Working from home is increasingly common
With 34 million people in the United States working from home, it is clear that communication technologies have opened up new options for telecommuting. Most telecommuters work from their own homes, connecting via the internet to the company’s network. It is estimated that by 2016, the number of workers telecommuting will nearly double. It is easy to see why: telecommuting benefits both the company and the employee.
NeedaOffice, an office supply company, offers a handy for describing some of the pros and cons of work-from-home programs. According to their surveys, 66 percent of workers would telecommute, given the choice, and another 36 percent would choose a work-from-home option over a pay raise. Telecommuting obviously reduces or eliminates time spent sitting in traffic on the way to work. It also allows employees to be more involved in caring for their children and elderly loved ones, and it is easier to schedule appointments without taking a full day off of work.
Many telecommuters also report that working from home allows them to be more independent and creative, and that they are more satisfied with their jobs. In fact, 95 percent of surveyed employers say that telecommuiting “has had a high impact on employee retention” – indicating that their telecommuting employees are highly satisfied with their work arrangement and tend to stick with it.
Working from home can be good for businesses, too
Telecommuting is great for businesses as well. It saves money and increases productivity. Allowing employees to work from home decreases the frequency of unscheduled no-shows, which cost US businesses about $300 billion per year. When in-office employees call in sick, an estimated 78 percent of them are in fact, not sick, but simply need some time to attend to needs at home or unwind from all of the stress. The scheduling flexibility of telecommuting allows employees the opportunity to deal with their home and personal lives without missing as much work. Just sparing employees the commute alone increases productivity, as about 60 percent of the time saved on commuting is used to complete more work.
Many major companies, especially tech companies like IBM, Dell, Apple, Amazon, and Adobe, have a work-from-home option, and report positive results. AT&T says that their telecommuters, on average, work for five more hours than their office workers. American Express reports that teleworkers generate 43 percent more work than their in-office counterparts. Even the federal government has employees working from home, and apparently saved $30 million when a blizzard kept workers trapped at home last winter.
So, is working from home a viable option for you, or for your small businesses? The benefits are clear, but be sure to hire teleworkers who are tech savvy, self-motivated, and good at managing their time.