When thinking about allowing employees to work from home, the word “telecommuting” comes to mind. However, home working does not always imply telecommuting, as companies are continually looking for new ways to reduce expenses and meet the demands of an evolving workforce. In many cases, the benefits of telecommuting and hybrid ways of having employees work from home are the same, but the reasons are different.
One way employers are benefitting from allowing employees to work from home is that they are enabled to address a variety of personal needs. For example, while an employee that has been in an accident may work from home effectively, going into the office may not be practical. When the employee can be expected to be confined for extended periods of time, technology can allow them to work from home. The company does have to hire in temporary help, and this saves money.
Another example is when an executive is involved with extensive travel and is rarely at the home office. The secretary/administrative assistant can be even more effective working from home, because they can be on call 24/7 as part of their job description without ever having to step into the office. Often, a weekly or monthly meeting at the home office is required, but most of the time, the employee is free to manage their personal and work schedules. For them, it’s very much like having their own business.
Naturally, losing the time and expense of commuting is an advantage for the employee. For the employer, there is no issue of whether an employee arrives on time, since that issue is decided when the employee is on demand as needed. Not every day is the same, so there will be work days that will start at 8:00 a.m. while others will start at 10:00 a.m. This flexible scheduling without involving commute time results in a greater productivity and a less stressful working environment.
Despite the seeming advantages of allowing employees to work from home, it needs to be understood that many employees simply do not have the personality that would enable them to work from home effectively. Some people need to be under constant supervision to do their best. Others do not have the self-discipline to be able to distinguish the home environment from the office environment when working from home. This may be an issue of greater concern with parents who have young children with constant demands, although numerous studies over the years have shown that women with children make the most conscientious employees.
Technology has made the idea of working from home much more palatable for employers. Video technology and secured laptops make it possible for employers to meet with employees and conduct personal meetings without compromising sensitive and confidential information. Since many people have WiFi networks established in their own homes as part of the mobile technology trend, it costs the company little to nothing to encourage employees to work from home. In addition, smaller office space will reduce heating and lighting expenses for the company. Overall, the benefits of having employees work from home when possible will result in a more profitable company and a reduced-stressed workforce.