Pros and cons of telecommuting

Written by Jennifer Holtjennyholtwriter@gmail.com, who has written a longer version of this article that can be found at http://www.newyorkjobs.com/insider/working-from-home-more-pros-than-cons.htm

Decades ago it would have been unimaginable to stay at home and work in your pajamas. But, times have evolved and these days, more people are working from home, or telecommuting..

The Numbers

According to the 2015 Gallup polls, 37 percent of US workers state that they have telecommuted for work, a figure four times higher than the 9 percent recorded in 1995.  Companies also have been increasingly flexible when it comes to allowing workers to telecommute. The 2016 Employees Benefits survey report conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management stated that the percentage of employers offering telecommuting options on a required basis has risen from 45 percent in 2012 to 56 percent in 2016.  No doubt, telecommuting will continue to expand.

The Advantages of Working from Home

Flexibility and Autonomy

The major benefit of working from home is the flexibility that such an arrangement offers. Imagine setting your own schedule as you see fit. You might want to wake up a bit later, take your time reading the news or feed the animals first before sitting down and starting your shift. Working as late or early as you prefer is no big deal as you can just get up and go to bed whenever your work is done. This means no nightmarish traffic to go through (American workers lost 50 hours to traffic in 2015 according to INRIX) or no dangers in the night to contend with if you are working late. There are no dress codes to worry about, no dry cleaners to rush to, or clothes shopping to do every week to keep up with appearances.

Another benefit that comes with flexible working hours is the balance of work and personal lives. Let’s face it, if there is no harmony at home, this will eventually spill into the workplace and vice-versa. Hence, if you can balance work and home life, you will be less stressed and anxious and at the same time spend quality time with loved ones and experience high productivity levels.

High Engagement and Productivity Levels

A study conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) revealed that telecommuters have high productivity levels and are less likely to take time off from work even when they are sick. US News & World Report also confirm these findings reporting that teleworkers log in 5-7 more hours per week compared to non-teleworkers. This means that telecommuters often work even when on vacation or ill.

For as long as you set the boundaries of when to have a break or spend time with your pets or children, you will definitely have a higher engagement and rate of productivity by working at home. In comparison, an office has many distractions such as ambient noise and colleagues popping in or out for a chat that is often not even work-related.

No Micro-Managers

Being your own boss, at least when you are at home, has a lot of perks. Here, you don’t have to keep looking over your shoulder to see if your manager is sneaking up on you to check your progress. You won’t be dragged into endless meetings and brainstorming sessions that are only taking precious time away from the work you need to deliver.

Home Life Improves

It is quite challenging to balance home and work life, but if you are telecommuting you might actually manage to do this. Instead of hiring someone to take care of your kids, pets or the elderly, you are there for them. Those seemingly endless hours wasted in commuting can be spent with your loved ones improving home life and happiness.

More Time for Yourself

If you telecommute, not only do you get more things done or spend more hours with family, but you also gain extra time for yourself. If you are working for yourself, you might have some free hours to devote to a passion you love such as arts or graphics. You might even decide to enroll in an evening or online course for that accounting degree you really want. If you work hard enough, there will even be enough time to take off for a longer vacation each year. The point is, being a freelancer does have its benefits especially if you are not bound by a company or office establishment.  

The Disadvantages

No Structure and Self-Discipline

It is not easy to coach yourself into having a set routine when you are working at home and have no formal schedule to follow. Self-discipline, in this case, is very important as well as a checklist or plan of what needs to be accomplished during the day. Setting goals and targets are also useful to ensure you stay on track and don’t slack off just because you are at home.

No Pressures to Keep Busy

Apart from your pets and young kids, you might be the only one at home all day long, so there is certainly no pressure to keep on working. Besides, it is really easy to fall into the habit of putting off things that need to be done later on. When this happens, productivity is seriously compromised, so sticking to a proper schedule is of the utmost importance.

Personal Chores Get in the Way

Just as you would be tempted to relax or put off work in lieu of an extended coffee break, there are also piles of home chores waiting for you. Picking up your kids’ toys can easily turn into an hour of dusting, ironing, or DIY stuff. A solution to this issue is to create your own home office space in a corner of the house. If you have a guest cottage, turn this into a home office free from distractions and temptations.  If this not be possible, resist the urge to mop the floors or paint the kitchen until your designated break time.

No Social Life Outside of the Home

Working alone at home is probably not an exciting prospect for those who love the office atmosphere and the camaraderie among colleagues. It is very easy to fall into the trap of social isolation when telecommuting and work burnout is all too real.

Overworking

Working too hard might be a farfetched idea, but when you are at home, there is nothing to prevent you from stepping into your office and working till the wee hours of the morning. The other side to balancing home and work life is the delineation of boundaries between the two.

What’s Your Choice?

Working from home or telecommuting has its advantages and disadvantages. The type of work you do also has an influence on whether virtual work is the ideal solution or not. However, if you have the chance to enjoy the benefits of teleworking, why not use this opportunity to try it out for yourself before committing to it fulltime?  

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