Working from home may seem like a dream for some but a totally unmanageable situation for others. What are the real benefits and challenges posed by working from home, or telecommuting? Telecommuting is a term which envelops all the kinds of systems an employer can put in place to enhance employee flexibility as part of the company culture.
Let’s take a look at what’s really going on in the job market today.
- In Belgium only 1 in 3 employees can occasionally work from home, but only 1 in 6 says that their employer actually supports telecommuting. However, 50% of all employees would like to have more independence when it comes to managing their work-life balance, and 60% would even like to manage their own workflow. 36% of people would actually prefer the option of telecommuting over receiving a pay rise.
- The proportion of telecommuting employees is continuing to increase. In 2003, only 10.6% of employees were able to telecommute. In 2010, the figure reached 18.8%. And now, at the beginning of 2018, we are up to 30%. Telecommuting is clearly on the rise and this trend is likely to continue.
- Employer benefits? Working from home and telecommuting increase employee satisfaction, and 95% of employers who allow telecommuting say that this has had a positive impact on their retention rates. As well as cutting costs on real estate and fuel (nearly 60% of employers identify cost savings as a significant benefit offered by telecommuting), telecommuting has also been shown to provoke a rise in employee engagement. 62% of employees continue working from home under conditions which would otherwise cause them to call in sick.
- One of the challenges for the employer is the security of the technology that’s available. The technology to which employees have access at home may not be as secure and robust as the technology in the office. Team members may need help to communicate efficiently with colleagues who work from home. And 1 in 3 managers state that they want to be able to see their employees working.
- Organisations can easily respond to these challenges by carrying out a risk assessment of the data protection implications of working from home. Management can put in place collaborative communication tools like messenger and video conferencing. A transparent task management system can be set up in order to increase trust and allow performance based reviews to be carried out.
- Employee benefits? 86% of people who telecommute say that they hit maximum productivity when they work from home. 36% of employees who work the same amount of time at home as in the office say that they get more work done at home. And, due to the fact that no time is spent commuting, employees benefit from more leisure time.
- The challenges for employees? Working with colleagues who are not physically present can cause communication problems, especially if multiple team members are each in a different location. Employees who work from home tend to feel isolated from their colleagues as well. Separating your private and work life can be challenging. Also, a legal framework around working from home is often lacking.
- Some tips to make working from home really work: Connect with your colleagues and set clear goals for the day. Don’t do any chores during working hours and protect your weekends. Employees who work from home tend to overwork, so make sure you keep your work-life balance in check. Make a clear distinction between your working time and your free time! Also ensure that your contract states the telecommuting policies that apply.
Telecommuting is definitely on the rise everywhere as part of company culture. This is especially the case for younger people who want to travel while working, and for people who want to enjoy a good work-life balance.
So how about you? Are you up for telecommuting? And would your employer be? There are clear ecological benefits and time management can become more flexible, but it does require some self-discipline. But it might just be right for you if you’re looking to combine a career with a full and thriving life.