The benefits of working from home

jobMore and more companies are beginning to give their employees a chance to work from home. As technology advances, people are better able to work from home while still being connected to the business they work for. Information can be shared easier through the cloud and online storage, as well as the ability to communicate through emails and video conferences.

Working from home has benefits not just for the employees, but for the businesses as well. An employee working from home used to be daunting, something a business could lose money and productivity over, but nowadays that’s not true. Working from home can actually increase employee productivity and create a better working environment for all involved.

Flexibility and Why Workers Need It

There are a few reasons why working from home is an option that more workers want to be able to have. To start with, many want to have a better balance between work and their life at home, including the time they spend with their family. It’s optimal for workers who have small children at home, or even a spouse who may need help in the day because of health reasons.

Workers also want this option to cut down on commuting and the cost of gas to get to work. It saves time for the workers and reduces stress. They don’t have to worry about traffic and if there is an accident or a jam somewhere on the road.

Working from home is also a good option for employees who might need a different environment because of health issues. Why get rid of an employee just because they need to be at home to better take care of themselves when they can work from home and get just as much done?

Increased Productivity

From a company’s perspective, employees working from home can actually increase their productivity. There are a few reasons as to why that is, starting with the fact that there can be less distractions in an office at home. Cubicles at businesses are noisy and busy, with coworkers walking around and chitchatting, or people upset about maintenance issues or any number of workplace annoyances. Working from home cuts out a lot of that chatter, allowing an employee to focus on what they need to get done.

Polls taken to show where employees go to get their most important work done shows that very few employees would actually choose to do their biggest work in the office during the normal work time hours. An overwhelming number, well over fifty percent, said they would choose to take that work home, while another eighteen percent would choose the office after work hours.

Working from home can cut down some of the stress of work place politics, grievances, and distractions, and this helps employees get more done at a better quality.

Health Benefits

One big health benefit of working at home is the reduction of stress and what it does to an employee’s mental health. They feel more comfortable at home and they don’t have to worry about the stress of a commute. It’s also been found that the closeness in proximity to the other employees can increase a worker’s stress and anxiety, making them less productive in the long run. They are better able to relax and take care of themselves when stressful situations arise than they could in an office environment.

Workers eat better at home than they do going into the office, giving them better health all around. They also have the ability to take small breaks for exercise, reducing stress and keeping their bodies healthy and able to fight off illnesses.

Employers will see a reduction of sick days taken off from employees who work at home. By not being in an office environment, employees can’t spread around germs and illnesses to each other. Not only that, but some things that would keep an employee home from an office wouldn’t necessarily keep them from working at home. They don’t have to worry about the travel and how that might make them sicker, or take way their worries of getting their coworkers sick.

How Technology Makes This Possible

We’re living in a decade where, thanks to technology, it’s much easier to stay connected and have meetings even if some or many employees aren’t in the office. There are many services out there that can let employees attend meetings from the comfort of their home office. Video conferencing is on the rise and carries benefits for employees who want to work from home, as well as employers.

Things like the video communications Bluejeans Networking can provide lets employers hold meetings with employees in the office, at home, or in other parts of the country or world. It opens up the possibilities of what a company can do from afar.

With services like this, there’s no need to stick with a strict office environment for all employees.

Got self-doubt? Time to phone a friend…

A few weeks back I wrote about The Doubt. I think we are all grabbed by an attack of self-doubt from time to time. Often, fear is at the root of it – fear of the unknown, fear of failing, fear of looking a fool.

There were some great comments posted on that article and one that stood out for me was Inge Woudstra‘s. Inge asked how I get through The Doubt.

To be honest I don’t actually do anything, other than grit my teeth and keep going! A lot like in We’re Going On a Bear Hunt

Uh – uh! A snowstorm! A swirling, whirling snowstorm.

We can’t go over it

We can’t go under it

Oh no! We’ve got to go through it!

(By Michael Rosen and Helen Oxenbury)

That made me think – maybe it’s time I tried a new approach?

One thing I do know is that The Doubt is made worse by isolation. If you work in an office it’s easy to say¬† “this makes no sense to me, am I being really dense here?”. Within seconds you’ll hear the reply “don’t worry, it confused me too, here’s what it means…’ and you forget all about it. But if you’re working at home alone, that little bit of doubt can grow and grow, chipping away at your confidence.

So last week I did something radical and picked up the phone. Seriously, it was that obvious but I’d forgotten how much of a difference it makes. I spoke to the fabulous and energetic Nicki Cawood and Emma Burford. (Actually, I Skyped Emma because I’ve got a new webcam and I was determined to use it). We didn’t talk about anything in particular, just threw some ideas around, compared notes and helped each other out a bit. But it made such a difference

So my top tip is to step away from the keyboard and talk to someone. There are tons of mums working at home who haven’t spoken about anything more stimulating than Peppa Pig and Mr Tumble all day and would leap at the chance of a chat about business.

I bet you’re an independent kind of person who doesn’t like to ask for help? Well people do like to help others and anyway, the solution to a problem that’s been keeping you awake at night could be blindingly obvious to someone else. Just talking things through can get your mind working in ways it can’t when you’re sitting in silence. (Or listening to screaming toddlers?) There’s nothing like extended periods in front of a computer to get you going around in mental circles and a conversation can often break through it.

Go on, pick up the phone!

By the way, do check out Inge’s website mumandcareer.co.uk. It’s a new online resource that aims to support working mums with ambition – definitely one to watch. And you can read Inge’s experience of Doubt on her blog, too.

Creative Commons License photo credit: Eric Kilby