What are the Advantages of Working from Home?
The topic of remote working has recently become a hot subject. The recent IBM announcement to eliminate remote working has been talked about a lot. What underlies all the discussion is a remote working revolution now in full force. What led to this transformation? Should you consider this as an option for your team or work schedule? Let’s start with gaining a deeper understanding to the question of “What are the advantages working from home?”
First, it is important to understand the differences between teleworking and remote working. A remote worker will typically not commute to an office. They work at home 100% of the time, between travelling to customer locations, team meetings or other travel requirements. This type of worker might be in a sales, marketing or customer service type of field where the job they are trying to do is very closely related to how productive they are at their craft.
The answer to the question “What are the advantages working from home?” really depends upon what your role is within the organization. Different benefits apply to different positions. I have summarized a few of the more common “personas” to provides insights into this question.
Advantages of Working from Home: For A Remote Working Sales Professional
For this type of person, the first and foremost benefit is improved sales success, higher quota attainment or greater efficiency. To a professional that is very closely measured and compensated on getting sales closed, the window of what motivates behavior and decisions is typically closely tied to their bottom line.
How can remote working help improve sales performance? To start, a benefit could be more focused time to work on building and managing their sales pipeline. This type of remote worker might not be as engaged in office politics, lunch meetings or the conversations that occur around the proverbial water cooler. Being highly motivated to close deals, this type of worker may appreciate avoiding ad-hoc meetings on ancillary topics or projects that would take away time from closing deals.
Lastly, another benefit might be that it is easier to justify jumping on a plane to visit a customer or prospect, as part of closing the deal. As a remote worker, they are not commuting into the office every day, potentially spending an hour or so each way in a commute. Remote management tools now exist such that sales managers can easily understand what activities are being performed by their remote teams – given the potential options that now exist. This freedom of choice could lead to the potential for future process improvement – taking a best practice and sharing with the rest of the team. Or, to identify an employee that is perhaps not putting as much effort into their sales efforts as necessary. Regardless, with the visibility now possible, the choice of where to physically sit to do work is now effectively much greater, helping to unlock new options for sales team staffing.
Advantages of Working from Home: For A Creative Marketing or Advertising Professional
This type of worker might not be the best fit to work remotely 100% of the time, at least as a remote worker. Instead, teleworking one or two days a week might be the right balance, offering benefits that help achieve greater productivity or creativity as well as unlocking more time in the day for these exercises. For example, for those tasked with creating new ad copy, marketing campaigns or content, anything that can be done to break up a normal routine can do wonders to drive new creativity.
A person who teleworks can effectively disrupt the typical “Monday through Friday” routine by working different days in a different location. They can explore different places to work beyond their home office, to further amplify the potential for new creative ideas. A walk to a local coffee shop to write a new blog post is a great example.
Time is another variable that is easier to shift when working remotely. For example, it maybe that at 11pm in the evening is when a marketer is most creative, potentially coming up with new ideas for a new project. As a remote worker, this type of person might be able to capture more of these potential “inspirational moments” when not locked down to a steady schedule and the thought that work takes place only in the office.
Advantages of Working from Home: For Working Parents
We all know raising a family is a difficult, time consuming and expensive. Of course, the rewards and fulfillment can be extraordinary – but no one will argue it can be a lot of work! For this type of worker, the option to work either remotely or as a teleworker could mean the difference between having a job or not. Those working to just make ends meet are highly focused on what can be done to avoid expenses.
What are the advantages working from home, as a working parent? Child care, transportation costs (gas, train tickets, bus passes, etc.) can all theoretically be cut out with a remote working position. Or, at least reduced when teleworking a day or two a week. Even little things like eating out for lunches can be a cost that is cut. Lastly, it becomes more cost effective to work part-time if you are a working parent. In this type of scenario, it might not make sense to hire daycare for a part time job (as you might need to commit to weekly schedules), instead of working a few hours at a time, based on when is good for your schedule – even in the evenings.
Advantages of Working from Home: For Employers
Not each of the advantages working from home are captured by the workforce. There are several benefits employers stand to gain. For example, by considering a position that is occupied by a remote worker, the pool of potential candidates expands significantly – certainly to within a time zone or two from where your office is.
Take a company that operates in the metropolitan region of Dallas / Fort Worth in Texas, approximately in the center of the US. This company could consider candidates from either coast and in between – across the entire US – as potential job candidates, with no more than a 2-hour time zone difference. Some knowledge workers could even be considered on a global scale. This scenario creates considerably more options, especially when filling a difficult to staff position. This strategy could make it possible to hire employees with better skills, or perhaps a candidate with skills that simply doesn’t currently exist at the time you are hiring, when restricted to a search of candidates located within an hour or so drive from your office.
Advantages of Working from Home: For Global Economy Workers
In the words of Thomas L. Friedman, the world is indeed flat. What he meant is that the competitive playing field between industrial and emerging market countries is leveling. Individual entrepreneurs as well as companies, both large and small, are becoming part of a large, complex, global supply chain extending across oceans, with competition spanning entire continents. This transformation has been occurring for the past couple of decades.
As an employee of a global organization, one thing that quickly become apparent is that at any time of the day or night, someone is working, a customer might need help or an action may need to be done. This demand on global economy workers really would have been quite painful in the 1990s, given the level of technology sophistication was quite rudimentary. Voice calls overseas were expensive; Internet access was in its early, nascent stages. And, if your communication was targeting a developing nation, coverage was spotty at best.
Today, amazing breakthroughs in VoIP communications and email such that it is now possible to communicate from anywhere in the world, and do so with decent sound quality and network throughput. In this case, the advantage of teleworking or remote working is the fact that you don’t have to go into the office to take an evening call to the other side of the world. Or, conversely, an early morning call can now be accomplished from a home office, creating a huge advantage best described as leading to a better quality of life.
Those in relationships can attest that we all need to strike work-life balances. Doing so is the difference between making relationships work, keeping family ties as well as leading a fulfilling life. With regards to what are the advantages working from home for a global economy worker, it can literally be the difference between success and failure of achieving life balance. This benefit could far outstrip any of the other advantages discussed in this article.