Escape the Commute Culture: Working from Home Works

Heavy traffic commute to work

Commuting: Part of the Work Equation?

The Origins of Commuting

The word commuter appears to originate from a marketing campaign set up during the early days of rail travel in the United States.

In the 1840s, the railways were eager to attract new customers living in the suburbs of New York, Philadelphia, Boston and Chicago, so they offered a reduced or “commuted” fare into the city. Later, the term variations “commute” and “commuter” followed. Commuted tickets would usually allow the traveler to repeat the same journey as often as they liked during the period when the ticket was valid.

Fast forward 150+ years later, and the concept of life without commuting seems impossible. Yes, there have been waves of technological advancements since the 1800s, and remote work is a sustainable option for most white-collar employees, but there will always be the need for traveling to and from work, especially for jobs where it’s impossible to do otherwise. 

Commutes are Changing

The worldwide shutdown in 2020 fundamentally changed the way we work and get to our jobs. Remote and hybrid work have become commonplace, office spaces have become empty or sparsely used, and workers have started to question why commutes are even necessary. To find out more, let’s take a look at some key work statistics from another United States Census Bureau.

In 2022, the United States saw nearly 140 million people commuting to work, with over 20 million opting to work remotely. While the percentage of U.S. workers telecommuting dropped to 15.2% from 17.9% in 2021, it remained significantly higher than the pre-pandemic level of 5.7% in 2019. With more than 20 million people working from home in 2022, about 9 million fewer commuters departed their homes for the workplace during the core commuting hours of 6 a.m. to 8:59 a.m. in 2022 than in 2019.

Despite a decrease in solo driving to work in the U.S. to 68.7% in 2022 from 75.9% in 2019, public transportation usage also remained low at 3.1%, though up from 2.5% in 2021. In major U.S. metro areas, public transportation commuting rose in 2022 compared to 2021 but failed to return to pre-pandemic levels, with large cities like New York experiencing a substantial decrease in transit commuters. And, despite a slight increase in average one-way commute time to 26.4 minutes in 2022 from 25.6 minutes in 2021, it remained below the 2019 peak of 27.6 minutes.

All this to say, commuting for work has seen a renaissance in recent years, with environmental, mental and physical impacts at the forefront. Commuting will always be an important part of urban planning, mass transit, and company growth, but it’s not the only option. Sometimes a commute can be from your bed to your home office!

The Harmful Impact of Commuting

Not surprisingly, studies show adverse effects for long commutes – beyond simply the time wasted. Cedars-Sinai published an article pointing to adverse effects of commuting, including:

  • Raised Blood Pressure
  • Weight Gain
  • Back Pain
  • Stress
  • Decreased Time with Loved Ones
  • Sleep Problems
  • Car Accidents
  • Loss of Focus

“If you have a long commute, it’s taking the place of something in your life that’s healthy and reducing time with your spouse or your children or friends.” 

– Dr. Christopher Fitzgeral, Internal Medicine Physician at Cedars-Sinai

Happy employee working from home

Remote Work: No Travel Needed!

What are the advantages and disadvantages of working from home?

Working remotely offers numerous benefits, including the elimination of daily commutes, which translates to potential time savings and an enhanced work-life balance. With many individuals commuting over 30 minutes each way, the removal of this daily journey provides extra time for personal pursuits, contributing to overall well-being. Telecommuting also allows for significant cash savings, spanning from transportation expenses to work-related attire and even childcare costs, offering financial relief and flexibility.

Despite its advantages, remote work poses several challenges as well. Spending extended periods working alone can lead to feelings of loneliness, emphasizing the importance of socialization and maintaining connections outside of work hours. Additionally, setting up a functional home office may require initial investments in equipment and furniture, necessitating budgeting strategies to manage costs effectively. Employers who recognize the convenience, and often requirement, of remote work have the duty to provide stipends, arrangements, and wellness benefits that extend to the employees.

Telecommuting carries risks like overworking and diminished productivity due to distractions at home. While the flexibility of remote work can enhance productivity, it can also blur the lines between work and personal life, leading to longer hours and increased stress. Establishing clear boundaries and implementing productivity tools can mitigate these risks, ensuring a healthy work-life balance and sustained performance. Effective communication with colleagues is also vital to combating feelings of workplace disconnect and maintaining cohesion within the team and organization.

So, what are the benefits of remote work for different job types and industries? Let’s take a look at the advantages of working from home for different roles:

For Sales Professionals

Remote working can significantly improve sales performance for professionals primarily motivated by sales success and quota attainment. By eliminating distractions like office politics and non-essential meetings, remote sales professionals can focus more on building and managing their sales pipeline, leading to greater efficiency in closing deals. Additionally, the flexibility of remote work allows for easier justification of travel to visit customers or prospects, while remote management tools provide visibility into sales activities, enabling better process improvement and team management.

For Staffing/Recruiting Professionals

Remote work offers staffing and recruiting professionals numerous advantages, including access to a wider talent pool beyond their local area and reduced operational costs due to the elimination of physical office expenses. This flexibility enables professionals to source and recruit candidates from diverse geographic locations, enhancing the potential for finding the best-fit candidates for their clients or organizations while minimizing overhead costs associated with maintaining a physical office space.

Additionally, remote work enhances efficiency and productivity by leveraging digital tools and communication platforms for streamlined candidate sourcing, screening, and placement processes. Professionals can accommodate candidates’ scheduling preferences more easily, contributing to a positive candidate experience and promoting diversity and inclusivity in hiring practices. Overall, remote work fosters a more flexible, efficient, and inclusive approach to staffing and recruiting, ultimately leading to successful placements and satisfied clients.

For Working Parents 

For working parents, any little bit of flexibility helps. Remote or hybrid work allows them to balance professional responsibilities with childcare duties more effectively. With the ability to control their schedules, parents can adjust work hours to accommodate their children’s needs, such as school activities or doctor appointments, fostering a healthier work-life balance. Eliminating the daily commute saves valuable time and energy, enabling parents to be more present for their families and engage in activities that strengthen parent-child relationships.

Additionally, remote work leads to cost savings for working parents by reducing expenses associated with commuting and childcare. Research from shares that childcare costs can range anywhere from $200 to $500 a week! Without the need for full-time daycare or babysitters, parents can coordinate childcare arrangements more flexibly, saving on childcare expenses. Remote work also provides opportunities for increased involvement in children’s lives, allowing parents to participate in school events, assist with homework, and attend important milestones without the constraints of traditional office hours. Overall, remote work empowers working parents to better manage their professional and family responsibilities, leading to a more fulfilling and balanced lifestyle.

For Employers

The advantages of working from home can be recognized by employers too. 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 tough position. This strategy could even make it possible to hire employees with better skills, instead of being restricted to a search of candidates located within an hour or so drive from your office.

For Global Economy Workers

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, and today, amazing breakthroughs in VoIP communications, video calls and email make it possible to communicate from anywhere in the world, with decent sound quality and network throughout. 

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, 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 and leading a fulfilling life. The advantages of working from home for a global economy worker can quite 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.

Employees gathered around a laptop

Talking to Management about Remote Work

Set the Stage

When considering a request to work from home, it’s crucial to reflect on your motivations and assess the potential benefits for both yourself and your team. Understanding how remote work aligns with your tasks and responsibilities can provide clarity on whether it’s a suitable arrangement. This introspection involves contemplating your work dynamics, collaboration requirements, and the technological infrastructure necessary for seamless remote operations.

Framing your request with the company’s interests in mind can facilitate a more receptive response from your employer. Highlighting the potential productivity gains, increased focus, and reduced distractions associated with remote work can demonstrate its value to the organization. Additionally, presenting data on remote work trends and success stories within your industry can provide empirical evidence supporting your proposal, bolstering your argument for flexibility in work arrangements.

Transitioning into remote work gradually can serve as a pragmatic approach to gaining approval and demonstrating the feasibility of the arrangement. Conducting trial runs and documenting outcomes can offer tangible evidence of your ability to maintain productivity and effectiveness while working remotely. Moreover, open communication with your employer, coupled with a well-articulated request that addresses potential concerns, can foster a collaborative negotiation process aimed at reaching a mutually beneficial agreement.

changing strategies. The challenge is that sometimes these changes are not always understood until after the transformation. Companies are expected to stay competitive and maintain or expand market share. But, this isn’t possible by resting on your laurels. New techniques must continually be evaluated and tested. This strategy applies to technologies, IT systems, management styles and remote work policies.

If you don’t yet have a remote worker policy, perhaps now is the time to consider it. For those that do have a policy, have the results been quantified? Do you need better visibility, or do you know enough to consider your program a success? We all can benefit with continued education. The classroom may be right outside your office, or, perhaps across the cyber-reaches of today’s remote sales teams.

5 Reasons Why Now is the Right Time to Have a Remote Work Policy

Today’s workforce is full of exciting possibilities, with constant technological progress and new business models emerging. However, some may miss out on these opportunities due to fear of change or simply being unfamiliar with recent advancements. Reluctance towards remote work may prevent individuals from experiencing its benefits, including increased productivity and job satisfaction. Recent research highlights the advantages of remote work, urging businesses to consider implementing remote workforce policies, especially for knowledge workers and sales personnel. Now is the time to rethink negative perceptions of remote work and explore its potential benefits.

1. No Productivity Loss

Working from home has shown to be equally as productive as working in the office, despite distractions present in both settings. Given that distractions are inevitable, especially for parents juggling childcare responsibilities, embracing remote work for sales personnel could capitalize on its advantages without compromising productivity.

2. Capitalize on Smartphone Access

While smartphones are often cited as major distractions in the office, they can become productivity tools on the road, facilitating communication, time management, and task organization. Encouraging remote work from various locations can transform smartphone usage from a negative distraction to a positive asset for productivity and efficiency.

3. Remote Workers are Happier

Remote workers tend to be happier, with Forbes even citing remote workers as being 20% happier than their in-office counterparts. Happiness leads to more positive engagement during work activities and customer interactions. In sales, where successful relationships drive results, a happier remote sales team can offer a competitive advantage by providing customers with a trusted and attentive advisor, prompting businesses to consider strategies to foster a positive work environment for remote sales personnel.

4. The World is your Talent Pool

By embracing remote work, businesses can access a broader talent pool by eliminating geographic barriers in recruitment, particularly advantageous in competitive industries where attracting and retaining top talent is challenging. Remote work offers the opportunity to source employees from diverse regions, alleviating hiring difficulties and reducing the need for costly incentives to attract skilled professionals, ultimately facilitating the search for ideal candidates.

5. Technology Enables Productivity Tracking

With the availability of productivity management tools, remote work can be effectively tracked and managed, ensuring productivity levels are maintained regardless of location. These tools, leveraging digital platforms like smartphones and email, allow for activity monitoring and analysis, enabling businesses to identify top contributors or pinpoint coaching needs. Companies must continuously evaluate and adapt their strategies, including technology, management styles, and remote work policies, to remain competitive and meet evolving market demands, highlighting the importance of quantifying remote work policies’ effectiveness and investing in ongoing education and improvement initiatives.

How Does Prodoscore Enable Remote Work?

1. Activity Tracking
Prodoscore monitors various activities and behaviors across digital tools commonly used for remote work, such as email, CRM systems, project management tools, and communication platforms. By analyzing data points like email volume, client interactions, task completion rates, and collaboration frequency, Prodoscore generates insights into employees’ work patterns and productivity levels enabling better informed and objective decisions.

2. Time Management
Prodoscore tracks the time spent on different tasks and applications throughout the workday. It can identify periods of high activity, as well as instances of prolonged inactivity or distraction. This data can help managers understand how effectively employees are utilizing their time while working remotely and identify opportunities for optimization.

3. Performance Metrics
Prodoscore generates performance metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs) based on employees’ digital activities. These metrics can include sales conversions, customer response times, project milestones, and other relevant indicators of job performance. By correlating digital activities with business outcomes, Prodoscore enables organizations to assess remote workers’ productivity and contributions.

4. Benchmarking and Comparison
Prodoscore allows organizations to benchmark productivity metrics across teams, departments, or individuals. By comparing performance data between remote and in-office workers or different remote teams, organizations can identify trends, best practices, and areas for improvement. Some employees and roles may be better suited for remote work vs. in-office, and without Prodoscore productivity data, management teams have limited visibility. Our comparative analysis provides valuable insights into the effectiveness of remote work arrangements and informs decision-making. 

5. Customized Reporting
Prodoscore offers customizable reporting that allows organizations to tailor analytics dashboards and reports to their specific needs and objectives. Managers can create reports that focus on their unique productivity metrics, highlight trends over time, and track progress towards goals. These reports serve as a valuable tool for assessing remote work productivity and guiding performance management strategies.

As commuting undergoes a modern renaissance, shaped by technological advancements and global shifts in work culture, the traditional notion of traveling to and from work is being reevaluated. Remote and hybrid work is here to stay, and offers workers freedom, mental and physical health benefits, and increases in job satisfaction. Prodoscore offers valuable insights into remote workers’ productivity, enabling organizations to optimize remote work arrangements and foster a more efficient and connected workforce. Get in touch with us today to discover how data insights can justify a remote work arrangement for your company.

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