10 Advantages of Working from Home

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As the way we work continues to evolve, telecommuting is becoming an even more popular option in many fields. See more pictures of home office decor.
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Most individuals have to commute to their workplace every day, but now many are choosing to work from home or a nearby location. Telecommuting, or working remotely from a place other than an employer’s primary office, is a reality for many Americans [source: Gordon]. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, around 5.5 million individuals worked from home between 2006 and 2008 [source: U.S. Census Bureau: News]. An unrelated study indicated that 17.2 million Americans worked from home or remotely at least once a month in 2008 [source: WorldatWork]. It is important to note that some of these people might be self-employed instead of simply telecommuting, yet there are certainly many that are taking advantage of this alternate work arrangement.

Not all jobs offer telecommuting as an option, but it can have obvious benefits for certain people, companies, and even the environment. This article explores 10 reasons why you might want to consider working outside your employer’s primary location. First, let’s see what workplace advancements have made telecommuting more accessible.

10. Technological Advancements

Technological innovations, such as instant messaging and video conferencing, have made telecommuting a more viable option for many workers.

Technological advancements such as email and video conferencing have opened up the world of telecommuting to many more people, allowing them to work efficiently even when not in the office. “The technology has allowed more people to do more parts of their jobs in more different locations than ever before,” said Gil Gordon, a long-time telecommuting consultant.

New tools and employer tech support have made it convenient for employees to stay in touch with their colleagues and managers through calls, instant messaging, or video conferencing. Customer service representatives might be able to take calls from home or a coffee shop just as easily as they can from an office. Lawyers can review patent contracts from home using a secure server system [source: Rhodes]. Even doctors are using technology to help them diagnose patients remotely [sources: Terdiman, Flynn].

Due to the nature of some jobs, such as retail cashiers or airline pilots, telecommuting might never be an option for them. However, for many positions, technology has made this work style a viable alternative and sometimes even a preferred way of doing business. “Teleworking is best suited to jobs that are information-based, predictable, portable, or that demand a high degree of privacy and concentration,” said Marcia G. Rhodes, the spokeswoman for WorldatWork, an international human resources company.

9. Reduced Commute Time

Technological advancements have made it easier for people to connect across vast distances, making face-to-face meetings less necessary, or at least less frequently required. If you don’t have to drive to see your colleagues or sometimes even your clients, you can dramatically reduce your time spent in the car, leaving additional time for work or personal tasks.

Based on a survey conducted by the Bureau of Transportation in 2003, it was found that the average commuter spends around 26 minutes traveling to work, with the majority of commuters using their personal vehicles. This means that on average, commuters spend almost an hour a day traveling to and from work, which adds up to more than 100 hours per year. This time spent commuting is longer than the standard two-week vacation given to most employees. The U.S. Census Bureau estimated that a large percentage of workers, about 75%, drive to work alone while only about 5% walk. Driving to work contributes to harmful materials in the atmosphere, including air toxics and greenhouse gases that are believed to affect climate change. Leaving your car at home and telecommuting instead can help reduce these stresses on the environment. Conserving fuel by accelerating and decelerating slowly, cutting down on idle time, and clearing out unnecessary items in your car can also help. Not commuting to work can also save you money on gas and other expenses such as parking and clothing.

6. Increases Efficiency

Many workers feel that they could be more productive if they were working from home, away from the distractions of the office environment. Eliminating these distractions can lead to increased productivity. However, it is important to hold employees accountable for their productivity, as it is still possible for them to waste time while working from home. Telecommuting jobs often require employees to focus on completing tasks rather than working a set amount of time, which can make them more efficient. Some companies, such as Cisco, have seen significant savings in productivity by allowing employees to work remotely.

In a 2005 survey, more than half of the respondents said they would rather give up their morning coffee than their ability to use the Internet for personal reasons at work. This shows the importance of having access to technology, even if not in the office.

5. Saves Company Expenses

Having fewer employees in the office can lead to reduced property and utility costs for the company. With telecommuting, companies may be able to scale back their office space, which can result in lower rental expenses and utility bills. Additionally, telecommuters may not take advantage of in-house perks such as free coffee and snacks, which can also lead to cost savings. Telecommuting can also be used as a bargaining chip in employee compensation negotiations.

4. Enables Relocation and Retention

Telecommuting allows employees to work from anywhere, making relocation possible without the need to leave their job. This can be a significant benefit for both the employee and the company. It can also improve employee retention rates as they have the flexibility to work from home.

Telecommuting offers benefits for both employees and employers. If an employee needs to move to a new location due to family reasons, a company that offers telecommuting can retain a productive employee who likes working for them. This benefits the employer by not having to train a new employee and retaining the best person for the position. However, telecommuting also means that employers can now look for new employees outside of their geographic region and acquire better people who fit the job description.

Telecommuting also offers flexibility with time and schedule. Scheduling conflicts related to personal and professional obligations are usually the main reasons why an employee seeks a telework arrangement. This can allow an employee to hone in on the best work time for them and their clients. They can also take advantage of doing errands during off-times when others might be in the office. A 2008 survey of telecommuters found that, of the time saved by working remotely, 60 percent was spent working, and 40 percent was spent on personal time.

Moreover, a telecommuting position can help employees balance their job with their personal life. There is a possibility for less conflict in trying to balance the demands of a family with a full-time job when telecommuting. For instance, not having to commute for 30 minutes could allow a parent to drop their child off at school. Telecommuting also allows an employee to perform home maintenance throughout the day, which would not be possible in an office.

1. Decreased Stress

Dealing with a physical commute, such as being stuck in traffic, can be an enormous source of stress for many individuals. However, telecommuting can have stress-reducing benefits for employees. According to Gajendran and Harrison, telecommuting can lower stress levels for workers. “For many people, the most challenging part of their workday is getting to and from the office,” explained Gordon. “If they can work from home even a few days a week, it can significantly reduce stress in their lives.” A study by Hewlett Packard in the UK found that participants experienced higher heart rates and blood pressure levels during their daily commutes than experienced fighter pilots going into combat [source: Hewlett Packard].

Telecommuting can also provide employees with a greater sense of control over their work lives compared to an office environment. Telecommuters may not be micromanaged as much as those who work in an office. “They feel more in control,” Rhodes noted. “It is vital for employees to feel that they have autonomy over when and where they work and how they complete their tasks.”

From reducing stress to benefiting the environment, the advantages of telecommuting have become increasingly available to more workers. While telecommuting is not ideal for everyone, advances in technology and employer support have transformed the way work can be accomplished. “In today’s knowledge-based economy, what is essential is getting the job done, regardless of when, where, or how many hours it takes,” Rhodes emphasized.

2. Detrimental to Heart Health

A four-year study revealed that dealing with traffic raises the likelihood of having a heart attack within an hour after being in the situation. Some experts suggest that the pollutants associated with vehicles could raise stress levels, which might contribute to heart problems [source: Mozes].

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The sources cited include a website about climate change and driving, an article on mobile source emissions, a news release about web addiction, an interview with the CEO of The Telework Coalition, and a report on telework trends. All of these sources are available online and were accessed in November 2009. The sources are listed in a bulleted list with hyperlinks to each source.


1. What is telecommuting?

Telecommuting is a work arrangement in which employees can work from home or other remote locations instead of commuting to a physical office. This is made possible by modern communication technology such as email, video conferencing, and instant messaging.

2. What are the benefits of telecommuting?

Telecommuting offers numerous benefits to both employees and employers. For employees, it provides greater flexibility and work-life balance, eliminates the stress and expense of commuting, and allows them to work in a comfortable environment. For employers, it can reduce overhead costs, increase employee satisfaction and productivity, and provide access to a wider pool of talent.

3. Is telecommuting only suitable for certain types of jobs?

Telecommuting is suitable for a wide range of jobs, from administrative and customer service roles to software development and marketing. As long as the job can be done remotely and the employee has access to the necessary technology, telecommuting can be a viable option.

4. Does telecommuting have a negative impact on collaboration and teamwork?

While telecommuting can make face-to-face collaboration more difficult, modern communication technology makes it easy to stay in touch and collaborate remotely. Video conferencing, instant messaging, and online project management tools can all facilitate collaboration and teamwork, even for remote teams.

5. Can telecommuting lead to isolation and loneliness?

Telecommuting can be isolating for some people, but it doesn’t have to be. Regular check-ins with colleagues, virtual team building activities, and participation in online communities can all help remote workers feel connected to their colleagues and the company culture.

6. Are there any downsides to telecommuting?

Telecommuting does have potential downsides, such as the lack of face-to-face interaction with colleagues, the need for self-discipline, and the potential for work to encroach on personal time. However, these issues can be mitigated through regular communication with colleagues, setting clear boundaries between work and personal time, and developing good time management skills.

7. How can companies ensure the success of telecommuting programs?

Companies can ensure the success of telecommuting programs by setting clear expectations for remote work, providing the necessary technology and support, offering training and resources for remote collaboration and communication, and regularly checking in with remote employees to ensure they feel connected and supported.

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