The number of Americans working from home continues to rise. This increase in home-based employees has been aided by improved internet connectivity and the demand for more flexibility in work environment. According to data released by the US Census Bureau in 2017, about 8 million people worked from home. This data represents approximately 5.2% of workers in the U.S. According to a survey carried out by global analytics firm Gallup in 2017, work-from-home options help businesses and organizations retain their employees. The survey found that flexible work schedules and work from home opportunities played a major role in an employee’s decision to accept or reject a job. The Gallup report also suggested that remote working may also improve workers' productivity. But of course, there is a downside to anything so before you decide to make the switch it’s important to take a look at the pros and cons of working from home.
Here are some of the reasons remote working is a great option for business owners:
- More flexibility: Provided that you’re not stealing from your work hours to watch TV, go shopping or have lunch with friends, you can actually be more productive working remotely. If you are a parent with childcare duties, working from home can give you the flexibility you need to create a better work-life balance and boost your morale. Having a flexible work schedule also gives you room to carry out other tasks while still meeting your deadlines and making yourself available for online meetings when necessary. You can even take a short break if work gets unusually hectic. Not only that, working as a home-based employee allows you to create a work environment that suits your needs. You can develop a work schedule that works best for you, operate within your most productive work hours, create an ambiance that makes you perform at your best, and wear clothes that are the most comfortable for you.
- Less distractions: While there are possible distractions that you may face when you work from home, it is much easier to control than the chitchats and distractions from coworkers you would face in a typical office setting. At home you may find it easier to get work done from your home office with fewer distractions. Limiting needless interruptions and meetings with colleagues and superiors is one of the reasons most remote workers tend to be more productive than office workers. While there are occasions that require you to do face to face meetings or connect to meetings via video calls, you'll likely save yourself from attending meeting that might be irrelevant to your role.
- No long commutes: Whether it’s a 30 minutes train ride or an hour drive in rush hour traffic, you can never regain lost time. One of the top benefits those who work from home enjoy is the cutting out the commute. Those hours spent on the road can be put into getting productive work done. Remote working also helps you save money that you would have spent on transport fares or fuelling your vehicle. It evens aid in reducing your stress levels since you won't have to worry about rush hour road rage.
Working remotely sounds great but, there are some cons of working from home. Here are some of the things you should consider before taking the plunge to work from home:
- Miscommunication: It is so easy to misinterpret messages passed through electronic communications such as text messages, emails, and group chats. The absence of facial expressions and body language from your boss or colleagues may pose as a difficulty for some remote employees. The tone of digital messages isn’t the only problem. Sometimes when you work from home and you are unable to communicate work progress right away, you may be accused of slacking. For office workers, your boss or co-workers can easily check on you in the office but that’s not the case for home-based employees. Therefore, extra effort should be made to maintain positive communication among co-workers. As a remote worker, be sure to communicate what you are doing, what you’ve accomplished, and submit any necessary documents in a timely manner.
- Where’s the off switch? One of the cons of working from home is that there may not be a distinct separation between your work hours and leisure time. While some might assume remote employees do less work, remote employees may experience the constant need to keep working which could result in burnout. Since you are working from home, you are more likely to overwork, especially if you don’t have a start and closing time. In an attempt to have a work-life balance, some remote employees get distracted by household chores or take out too much time for their personal life. It is therefore very essential to set a work-time limit and stick to it. It can be isolating Another major drawback of remote work is that you go all day without physical access to your coworkers, which can be very isolating. It makes it difficult to establish trust and form relationships with your colleagues and clients since daily face-to-face interaction is absent. You might not realize it but there are also things you may miss out on if you work from home. This may include learning the best practices of co-workers, casual support from other office workers or having a spontaneous and enlightening conversation during a lunch break.
Working remotely has great benefits; however you need to have the right work mindset in order to do productive work remotely. Ensure you make yourself available for meetings and communicate regularly with your team. Don’t feel too relaxed while you’re working from home. Create a work environment within your home that will help you stay focused and without distraction.