Working from home. Sounds like the dream, right? The ability to plan your own schedule, work your own hours, and best of all, wake up whenever suits you best. On the flipside, companies who provide telecommuting opportunities also reap the benefits of saved costs, greater employee productivity, and better work-life balance.
It’s an unconventional setup that offers a ton of advantages, but before you ditch your traditional 9 to 5, it also helps to consider the (often unacknowledged) pitfalls. Loneliness, home-based distractions, and the blurred line between work and personal time all come at the cost of being a flexible, remote worker.
Below, we outline the pros and cons of telecommuting, and whether it’s truly the “ideal lifestyle” they say it is.
The advantages of telecommuting
According to Global Workplace Analytics, teleworking can save the United States over a whopping $700 billion per year. Businesses that hire remote workers are able to save on operating costs and capital expenses, such as physical workstations, computers, the need for constant air conditioning, and other energy-associated costs.
On the worker’s side of things, the expenses on public transportation, gas, eating out, and professional business attire are all reduced, or eliminated entirely. Teleworkers are thus better able to save up for other professional, educational, or personal investments.
One of the best-known advantages of telecommuting is the freedom to work when and how it suits you best. You’re likely still required to report to a manager (or team) — whether through emails, messengers, or video conference tools — though teleworkers are typically free from rigid office schedules, often able to set their own lunch breaks, run errands between tasks, and tend to personal appointments during the day.
Since most of these workers perform tasks at home, they also save the unnecessary hours spent on the road, subway, or bus to get to and from their place of work. This gives them that well-deserved extra time to spend with family, friends, or personal activities — achieving a better work-life balance.
In a survey conducted by Connect Solutions, two-thirds of employees stated they were more productive when allowed to work remotely.
The findings make sense; the flexibility of telecommuting provides its workers with a far more comfortable, easy-going work life. The better your work environment, the better your work mindset — allowing you to produce greater results overall. There’s also less stress with the lack of office politics, pressure to look presentable, and driving or commuting to the workplace at a set, strict time.
The disadvantages of telecommuting
Not all work suits a teleworking setup
Though teleworkers can help your business save costs, it helps to ascertain whether your current projects fit such a working style. Hiring remote workers can often come at other expenses, including communication issues and differing expectations, especially if you haven’t worked with them before.
These risks can be especially damaging with heavy, high-priority projects that require accurate detail and attention. With such tasks, you may be better off hiring on-site workers who can directly discuss and work with you on what needs to be done.
Additionally, teleworkers who fail to perform will often result in greater employee turnover and rehiring costs.
Lack of social interaction
As novel as it is, working from home can quickly shine light on a growing concern among telecommuters: loneliness. Sure, you get all the creature comforts of your private living room, but you also miss out on the daily banter, conversations, and camaraderie with coworkers. While email, phone, and instant messaging are all still available for remote work, nothing beats direct, social interaction.
This can be especially isolating for extroverted personalities, who rely on face-to-face interactions for that motivational kick and mental stimulation.
Some experts suggest turning to co-working spaces in such situations — environments that allow individuals to work remotely while surrounding themselves with other telecommuting employees.
While teleworking frees you from the hustle and bustle of a traditional office, it also offers a different set of temptations and distractions — all due to the comfort of your home.
With no managers or coworkers looking over your shoulder, procrastination can rear its ugly head, leading to time sinks on social media, Netflix, or house chores if you aren’t careful. Those with children or pets at home may also find their attention split between their needs and their current work tasks.
To curb these distractions, it can help to set up a home office or space exclusively dedicated to work and work alone. Working from the couch, on your bed, or in front of the television can easily chip at your motivation, though a proper workspace can alleviate the common temptations to tune in to cable shows or indulge in a four-hour nap.
As with any work setup, teleworking comes with its fair share of ups and downs. Adopting the lifestyle (or choosing to hire such workers) boils down to industry, personality, and career/business goals. For those who desire a bit of tradition as well as flexibility, partially remote schedules are also on the rise.
Whether you choose to embrace the digital work or stick to tried-and-true conventions, one thing’s for certain: in a world growing ever-connected through technology, telecommuting is here to stay.
Considering remote hires? Ensure quality digital communication through Netcom Solutions’ consulting services, where we offer comprehensive advice on IT networks, infrastructure, and other technologies. Reap the benefits of telecommuting, and enquire with us today.
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