One of the growing trends right now is telecommuting. Technology has advanced to the point where it is possible to work from home, connecting to the office via broadband connection. Telecommuting isn’t just convenient; it’s also cost-effective in a number of ways. And it isn’t just a cost-saver for workers. Employers can save money when they allow workers to telecommute.
With technology improving, and many talented workers looking to work for the companies with the most perks, it is little surprise that employers are trying to find ways to cater to the up and comers. If you are starting to feel frustrated and burned out at your job, it might be time to talk to your employer about flexibility.
How Telecommuting Can Save You Money
As you might imagine, the biggest way that telecommuting can save you money is in commuting costs. Instead of driving, and spending money on gasoline, you can save when you work from home. Even if you work from home only two or three days a week, that can add up to substantial savings in gasoline. If you pay for some sort of mass transit, you might also save money when you telecommute.
Another way you save is in needing a smaller wardrobe. When you work from home, you don’t need the same number of professional outfits. Plus, the clothing you do have will last longer since you are wearing — and laundering — it less.
Don’t forget, too, that many people who go into work spend more money on meals. If you eat out when you go in to work, or hit up the vending machines, you might be surprised at how much you are spending. Working at home some of the time means that you have access to meals that are more cost-efficient — and you might have access to healthier snacks, since you can rely on fresh fruit, rather than eating what’s in a vending machine.
How Telecommuting Benefits Employers
Employers can also benefit when they allow workers to telecommute. Here are some of the ways that employers might be able to save when their workers are able to work part of the week from home:
- Reduction in overhead costs: One of the most obvious ways that employers can save is in overhead costs. Less power is needed when workers are at home, and less space is needed in the office.
- Increased productivity: Recent studies have indicated that productivity increases when workers can accomplish some of their tasks from home. This makes the whole company more efficient, and helps the bottom line.
- Better job satisfaction: Additionally, many telecommuters report increased job satisfaction. A happy employee is less likely to look for a job, reducing employer costs related to turnover and training new employees.
- Ability to expand job pool: Once an employer establishes a policy of allowing remote workers, its job pool expands. It is possible to hire people who might not find it practical to drive in to work every day. Employers can hire more quality people without being limited so much by geography.
Could You Increase Your Productivity By Telecommuting?
It’s true that telecommuting can save both you and your employer money, but it might also help you improve your productivity as well.
If you are looking for ways to be more productive in your job, and get more done in general, telecommuting might just provide you with a possible solution. Instead of going to a straight four day work week, you might be able to do more if you work from home.
Here are some of the ways that telecommuting can help increase productivity:
- Fewer coworkers stopping by to chat and take up time.
- Fewer meetings to attend.
- According to one study, employees actually work longer when they telecommute.
- Happier employees (glad they don’t have to drive in to work) are generally more productive.
- Less turnover due to happier employees.
Being able to work from home can help many boost their productivity while increase their sense of satisfaction in life.
Challenges to Productivity when Working from Home
Of course, while there is evidence that working from home can boost productivity, not everyone benefits from this arrangement. And there are definite challenges to maintaining productivity while working from home.
One of the main issues is distraction. While working in a traditional office setting presents plenty of distractions, working from home can provide its own set of different distractions. If you have kids or pets at home most of the day, they can really command a great deal of your attention. Even if your children go to school most of the day, it can be difficult, since they might have days off school when you are supposed to be working.
Your productivity can also suffer if something happens and your Internet goes down. In order to telecommute, you often need to have access to a high speed Internet connection. If that has problems, or if the power goes out, without a backup plan your productivity can be seriously hampered.
And, of course, it’s much easier to waste time surfing the Internet if you aren’t worried about the boss walking by and looking over your shoulder.
Overcoming Telecommuting Productivity Challenges
If you do telecommute at least some of the time, it’s a good idea to do what you can to limit productivity problems. Activity work to avoid getting stuck in a time wasting rut. Here are some things you can do to help keep you on track during the day, and ensure that you are more productive when you telecommute:
- Set a timer: Set a time for an hour or two, and see how much you can get done in that time.
- Create a distraction-free zone: Set up an office space that is distinct from other areas of your house. This doesn’t have to be an entire room, but there should be some cues that it is your workspace. Set up in a niche, or set up a screen, or set up with your back to the wider room. Try to find an area that is relatively quiet most of the time.
- Relegate email to a specific time: Avoid surfing the web, and only check your email at certain times of the day. Schedule in time to answer email, and even to take a break and surf the Internet for fun. If it isn’t your scheduled time, don’t do it.
No matter where you are, it’s important to work on increasing your productivity, and try your best to get things done in a timely manner.
More Opportunities in the Workplace
Thanks to technology, it’s possible to be more flexible than ever. There are new careers springing up, thanks to the Internet, and you don’t even need an online career to take advantage of the technology available. On top of that, the nature of many jobs—especially white collar jobs—makes it possible to add more flexibility to the schedule.
Some of the perks that you might consider talking to your boss about include:
- Flexible hours: According to the Wall Street Journal article, many in Generation Y are demanding more flexible hours. They want to be able to leave earlier and finish up work at another location. Or perhaps you want to come in later and leave later. Or maybe you would like to come in a little early so that you can leave early enough to be at home. Others prefer a schedule that involves four 10-hour days so that they always have Friday off. Look at your job, and assess how you might see more flexible hours.
- Flexible leave policies: Even if your employer won’t provide unlimited paid vacation, it is still possible to get a bit of a bonus. Some companies are adding more unpaid leave options. Many workers are happy to take unpaid leave, if it means they can squeeze in an extra vacation.
- Other perks: We hear a lot about workplaces that feature gyms, and decent cafeterias. There are also workplaces that include child care, on-site, as well as other perks. Ask your employer about the possibility of including some of these perks.
If you have some of the traits that employers want, it’s possible for you to look for more flexibility in your work environment. Many people like to feel as though they are valued, and that often goes beyond mere money. If you are a worker that values a higher quality of life, and is more interested in comfort and flexibility than in having huge pay, you might be able to work something out with your employer.
There are plenty of jobs that lend themselves to telecommuting, even if it is only two or three days a week. With the right planning in place, it’s possible for employees and employers to benefit from this arrangement.
photo credit: totalAldo (user no longer active on Flickr).