Is working remotely the new “corner office?” Many people say yes: the chance to work away form an employer’s office (most often at home) offers workers the chance to work where/when they want (so long as they get their work done and are available when the boss calls or emails). Providing them the chance to spend more time with family and just have more flexibility in their lives: 9:30 a.m. yoga class, anyone? Volunteer at the kids’ afternoon school museum trip, Dad?
So it’s (mostly) a win for the employee (more on the downsides in a moment.) But what about for the employer? Is starting up a telecommuting option for a company’s employees a good thing for the company?
First, a definition of remote work:
This working arrangement often is defined as one that allows employees to work “outside of a traditional office environment.” The idea behind it is that technology has evolved such that much work today no longer needs to be performed in a certain place at a certain time, and so why require that employees work from 8-5 in a designated, employer-owned space?
Benefits to Employers
Having employees work out of home offices can have many benefits to an employer:
- Offering remote work can be a great way to attract top talent: employees by far say they are happier working remotely and many are looking for this perk when they look for their next career opportunity. (They may, in fact, leave a current employer for another that offers the telecommuting option.)
- It can save overhead for companies that have a regional or nationwide presence: no longer is there a need to rent/lease office space, furniture and equipment.
- Employees tend to be more productive and engaged.
Remote Working Isn’t All Bunnies and Tulips
Here are some real and meaningful downsides:
- Employees can – and do – take advantage of the situation.
- Work sites can – and do – lose the camaraderie, collaboration and synergy that often take place when people work together in person on projects.
- Companies open their privacy to cyber criminals. Cloud options definitely make remote work easier, but unless employees’ connections are completely secure, companies may be putting their confidential/proprietary information at risk.
If your company is seriously considering allowing employees to work at home, possibly the most important thing you need to look at is the employee: working remotely is NOT for everyone. Unless you require that the individual come to the office every now and then, working at home, alone, all the time, can take a toll on some people.
Extroverts, for example, may find their solitude too much of a good thing. It is possible to become an absolutely miserable employee in a home office. Discipline also is key. Unless firm deadlines are in place – and even with them – it’s often just too easy for workers to become, shall we say, a tad easy going when it comes to productivity. Humans do, after all, procrastinate.
A Real-life Example of Working from a Home Office
We have a contractor – and she’s GREAT, by the way! – who runs her own writing business from home. Slightly more introvert than extrovert, she nevertheless tells us there are times she definitely misses working with other people and sometimes excruciatingly so. Mind you, the flexibility can’t be beat (she took days off in the middle of the week here and there this summer, although she told us she worked 14 days in a row in June to make sure she could take a complete week off) and she sure doesn’t miss commuting, especially in inclement weather in a Pennsylvania winter!
She’s also highly disciplined and communicative: she’s never missed a deadline!
So while she’s not an Ingenex employee, she does work at home and she experiences many of the problems working remotely can bring to those who do it. So take note if you’re thinking of starting a remote working situation at your company and think it through thoroughly. What’s more, make sure employees who opt to work at home have the discipline (and fortitude) to stick it out (and don’t be surprised if they ask to come back to the office).
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