Written by Beth Hildreth on April 25, 2013
Categories: Blog Posts

“You work from home? Does this mean you can do work from your bed while in your pajamas?” If you work from home, there’s no doubt that you have been asked these questions. Many people express skepticism upon hearing that a company has a flexible telecommuting policy.

The typical perception of a telecommuter is someone who can watch television, bang out a couple of emails and sit around all day in sweatpants. Many cannot grasp how one can be productive without physically being in their office. But as we are immersed deeper and deeper into a world where technology is more accessible to individuals and CEOs are exploring different strategies to reduce their company’s overhead, telecommuting proves to be an ideal cost-efficient solution – for companies and employees alike.

Telecommuting is particularly popular in startups trying to save money in their early stages. The MIT Beehive Cooperative, a community designed for MIT students in the early developmental stages of a startup, provides a place for teams to collaborate on their initiatives. When they aren’t meeting in the Beehive, team members work from home or in their dorm rooms. This eliminates the need for an office space, a harrowing commute and provides entrepreneurs an opportunity to allocate their limited resources towards bringing their ideas to life.

Working from home isn’t just for startup companies – many large corporations encourage telecommuting. According to the Telework Research Network, the number of remote workers grew 73% between 2005 and 2011.  JetBlue, for example, specifically hires customer service employees to work from home. According to the JetBlue blog, of the 2,100 customer service agents in the Salt Lake City, UT area, 1,800 work from home. According to CNN Money, Intel and Pricewaterhouse Coopers, two of the top 100 companies to work for, allow employees to work from home – with 80% and 70% of employees doing so, respectively. With such large-name brands allowing telecommuting and embracing “green” initiatives, it is surprising that more employees aren’t working from home.

Specific tools and creating a firm telecommuting policy outlined for employees is critical in order to successfully allow employees to work from home. Efficient communication tools are crucial for enabling telecommuting. Creating a virtual basecamp – a space for pending documents to be reviewed by team members outlining daily tasks – is beneficial for those executing tasks and project managers. Virtual meeting tools such as web conferencing solutions are helpful for bringing the team together when meetings are necessary, and using chat applications are a great means of enabling real-time communications between employees.  Many low-cost and free versions of these tools are available online through different service providers.

Benefits of Telecommuting:

Increased Productivity: Employees who work from home tend to be more productive, as the typical day-to-day distractions and interruptions experienced working in an office are avoided. Unnecessary meetings are eliminated, and daily “water cooler” conversations are cut down. Employees are also more apt to work from home when they aren’t feeling well.

Reduced Overhead: Fewer people coming into the office every day requires a smaller office space, which reduces rent costs. Not to mention, an enormous reduction in energy-related costs such as lighting, powering computers and printers.

Going Paperless: Paperwork, documents and projects become electronic and virtual for telecommuters. Imagine the long-term impact on the environment if every corporation became paperless.

While working from home increases in popularity, the benefits for companies, employees and the environmental impact that telecommuting policy has will also strengthen. Skeptics will always question a telecommuter’s motivation and work ethic, but the advantages are clear: Working from home provides a cost-efficient and environmentally friendly means of running a business – and employees won’t want to rip their hair out after a horrendous morning commute.

by: Jennifer Videtta, The Pulse Network