As remote work becomes more normalized and research into the topic increases, we are developing a better understanding of some of the benefits of working from home. While this includes some fairly obvious advantages, such as a reduced need to travel and the potential for more flexible working hours, studies have also thrown up some more surprising findings, such as the potential for increased productivity.
Continue reading to learn more about five of the biggest upsides of telecommuting or check out How to Work from Home: A 2020 Guide to Remote Work.
The benefits of working from home are numerous and as our understanding of these advantages increases, the popularity of remote work grows as well. After all, it is understandable that employers would want to capitalize on any benefits, while for employees, working from home can be an appealing alternative to daily office life.
With that being said, the rise of remote work is still a relatively recent phenomenon. From 2007 until 2019, prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, it was estimated that work from home arrangements had increased by 159 percent.
As a consequence of this, many individuals working from home (and their employers) are still getting to grips with some of the main pros and cons. In this article, we will cover five of the biggest benefits in more detail and, where possible, provide advice on how you can make sure you actually reap those rewards.
1. Reduced Need to Travel
For employees, one of the most immediately obvious benefits of working from home is the reduced need to travel. This is because remote work eliminates the daily commute to and from work, which can save a significant amount of time over the course of a typical week, while the technology used can also help to reduce other business travel too.
Reduced travel then has a number of potential knock-on effects, such as lower stress levels. Workers can capitalize on this further by spending slightly longer in bed in the mornings, which will help to improve the quality of your sleep so that you are better prepared for work each day. The lack of travel may also give you more time to complete work-related tasks because it frees up some extra time during your typical day.
Meanwhile, for employers, fewer employees traveling to a physical workspace can help to avoid overcrowding and can reduce the size of the premises needed to operate effectively. On top of this, companies can promote work from home initiatives as being environmentally conscious, which can be a good public relations move.
2. Greater Work Flexibility
Another of the key benefits of working from home is the greater flexibility, not only in terms of precisely where you carry out your daily work tasks but also in terms of the time you start and the time you finish. In some cases, you may also find you have the flexibility to work longer on one day, in order to work reduced hours the next day.
When it comes to learning how to work from home effectively, carefully managing this flexibility is key. For instance, the flexibility to work from your living room, bedroom, or study room can be great for personal comfort, as can flexible working hours. Yet, you do also need some structure and routine, in order to get the best results.
For this reason, regardless of the hours you choose, it is often recommended that you try to be as consistent as possible from day-to-day so that you are getting plenty of time to rest and recuperate.
3. Productivity Benefits
For employers, one of the most surprising benefits of working from home may be a boost to productivity. While it may seem logical that remote work will lead to procrastination, due to a lack of supervision, a Ctrip study actually found that employees who worked from home were more productive than those who went into the office as usual.
There are a number of potential explanations for this, including a reduction in the number of distractions from work colleagues. There may also be a prevalent sense that the work carried out from home will ultimately be subject to suspicion and scrutiny. Meanwhile, a fear that work from home privileges could be revoked may serve as motivation.
Another big productivity benefit of working from home is linked to illness. Typically, if an employee comes into the office with an illness, there is a risk that the illness spreads, resulting in absence from multiple people at the same time. Working from home prevents this spread and also allows workers who are not badly ill to continue working.
4. Opportunities to Save Money
Both employees and employers also have opportunities to save money through work at home initiatives. If you are a worker, the savings can include everything from petrol or public transport costs associated with your daily commute, through to saving on lunches and workplace fundraising collections organized by colleagues.
If you are an employer, allowing people to work from home can help you to reduce some of the costs associated with your office or work premises. For instance, the aforementioned study, focused on Ctrip, found that the company saved around $1,900 per employee for the nine-month research period, due to savings related to space and furniture.
Nevertheless, some of these savings may only be felt in the longer term, because there may be some initial investment required to allow remote work to transpire, such as providing employees with laptops and other essential equipment.
5. Fewer Employment Barriers
Finally, a major benefit of remote work is the removal of some of the employment barriers that would otherwise be in place, and the single most obvious example of this is related to physical location or distance.
When office attendance is mandatory, a worker needs to live in close proximity to the workplace, because they will need to travel to and from the office every day. This means workers must either be willing to relocate or must seek employment close to home. For employers, of course, this also means a more shallow talent pool to choose from.
Yet, when telecommuting becomes the norm, this barrier is no longer as relevant. Employers can potentially look to find talent from all across the globe and workers can find work in other parts of the world too.
“If you have home-based positions to fill, your candidate pool stretches as far as the internet,” explains Mike Kappel, in an article written for Forbes. “And there are no relocation costs.”
Ultimately, working from home can be beneficial for both employers and employees, especially when they have an awareness of what the potential advantages are and how to make the most of them. In particular, the flexibility, lack of travel, and cost-saving benefits can be advantageous to workers, while employers may find that they have a more productive workforce, a deeper talent pool to hire from, and more space in their office.
Whether you’re a telecommuting veteran or just getting started, make sure you have the Essential Tools for Remote Work so that you can take advantage of all it has to offer. Also, don’t forget that Successful Collaboration While Telecommuting is often what makes a productive workday.