Telecommuting is on the rise. In fact, according to a Gallup poll, the number of Americans who have telecommuted is four times greater than in 1995. But, it’s still more of an exception than the norm.
Here are some of the plusses and minuses of telecommuting for a company.
- Productivity – According to a study by Jennifer Glass at the University of Texas and Mary Noonan at the University of Iowa, “telecommuters are almost twice as likely to work more than 40 hours a week”. I would agree with that one. I had a great PR job once where I started off commuting at least an hour just to get to my job. By the time I got there after battling with traffic it usually put me in a bad mood and zapped my energy. Once I started telecommuting I ended up actually working more hours, getting more done, and being happier about my job. Because I had more energy, I tended to be more creative. Seems I may be on to something. Studies show that 10-20% of telecommuters are more creatively productive.
- Cost savings – Employers save by being able to have smaller office space and pay less in office equipment, along with less expensive things like coffee, furniture, office equipment, etc. The employee who telecommutes saves money in gas, wear and tear on their car, business clothes, etc.
- Distractions – Employees who telecommute face the same kind of issues that entrepreneurs face. One is that there are many things to distract you when you work from home. It’s easy to fall into a habit of getting up late, taking too many breaks, and having the TV on in the background. One company I worked with had most of their employees working remotely. And one thing they mentioned was that, although they loved being home with their kids, they became a distraction when they tried to get work done. So the company opted to foot the bill for child care.
- Social isolation – Working from home can get lonely. Yes, you do have email and the phone to keep in touch with your co-workers, but it’s not the same as having lunch with them and hanging out after hours. You can have a teleconference, but it’s still not the same as having a face to face meeting.
All in all, most employees would rather telecommute given the choice.
Do you telecommute? What do you like or dislike about it?