Saturday, March 16, 2013

Working from Home Becoming Commonplace

According to a recent study by Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc., working from home has become a popular arrangement. Approximately 80 percent of the 120 employers surveyed offered an option for employees to telecommute. This arrangement will not be falling out of favor in the near future, as 97 percent said they did not plan to eliminate what has become a popular employee benefit. Companies like Yahoo!, which recently discarded its telecommuting policy, seem to be in the minority.

Though the study found that most employers do not offer a blanket policy for telecommuting, these companies do provide this convenient option to at least some employees on a formal or informal basis. The CEO of the staffing firm that conducted the study explained that not all employees posses what it takes to work at home regularly. Working from home requires self-motivation and discipline and managers should make telecommuting decisions on an individual basis.

What is driving employers to permit their workers to work at home? Promotion of work-life balance, improved morale, and increased productivity are major factors. Also important is the cost-savings that working from home represents to the employer. Companies reduce their needs for office space, equipment, and supplies when some staff work at home permanently. They may provide stipends for some associated costs but overall, they realize substantial savings.

Employers should think carefully before implementing telecommuting policies that do not cover all employees. Increased animosity can result when some, but not all, employees are allowed to work at home. Even blanket policies are not always successful, with some companies experiencing decreased collaboration that forces them to rethink or eliminate the option of working from home. On the heels of the Yahoo! elimination of telecommuting, Best Buy added a restriction to its policy, requiring that employees obtain permission from their supervisors before working from home.

What does it take to work at home? In addition to the aforesaid intrinsic motivation, a high level of self-discipline and excellent organizational skills. People who are used to well-defined job descriptions, close supervision, or a team of staff may have trouble making the transition to work at home business owners. However, those who work relatively independently and can handle the freedom that working at home provides may easily make the change.

People who work at home tend to be jacks-of-all-trades, handling everything from fixing printers to performing bookkeeping. Though many people are drawn to the freedom of a work at home job, most secretly crave routine, making it important to establish a daily schedule. Though unexpected issues may throw this plan off course, having structure provides a task to return to when things calm down.

One of the biggest challenges of a work at home job is knowing when to end the day. With the office just a few steps away, many people have trouble resisting the temptation to check emails, return business calls, or work on projects into the wee hours. Remembering that work-life balance is one goal of working from home shut make it easier to call it a day.

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