According to Global Workplace Analytics, a consulting and research firm that focuses on emerging workplace strategies, the total telework growth from 2011 to 2012, the most recent year for which statistics are available, was 3.8 percent. But those figures don’t tell the entire story, as the rise of telecommuters increased considerably since 2006, when the number of teleworkers grew by 26 percent over the year prior.
Telecommuting can pay dividends for workers and businesses alike. Workers benefit from telecommuting in a variety of ways. Working parents find telecommuting drastically cuts back on or even eliminates childcare costs, saving them thousands of dollars per year. Working from home also saves workers’ vehicles from the everyday wear and tear of driving to and from work, potentially adding years to a vehicle’s life expectancy.
Businesses also benefit from allowing employees to work remotely. Small businesses may need less office space if many of their employees work from home, saving them substantial amounts of money in rent. In addition, businesses that allow workers to telecommute may not need to spend as much on computers and other tools for their employees, as many telecommuters use their own personal computers when working from home.
While telecommuting can benefit employee and employer, the success of such an arrangement depends largely on the employees who will be working from home. Men and women who work from home often find they have more freedom at home than they did when working in an office, and how they handle that freedom will go a long way toward determining how successful they are at telecommuting. The following are a handful of strategies telecommuters can employ to ensure their work-from-home experiment is a productive success.
- Stick to a schedule. Workers in a traditional office adhere to a schedule, and so should telecommuters. Sticking to a schedule will allow you to maintain the same level of productivity you achieved when working in the office, and will ensure your personal life does not encroach on your professional life.
- Tell others your schedule. Though you’re now working from home, your schedule likely has not changed. You may be able to sleep in a little later because you no longer have to commute, but your workday is likely still eight hours. Once you have established your schedule, let others in your household, your spouse, children or roommates, know when you will be working on a daily basis. This reduces the likelihood that your housemates will distract you or walk into your office while you’re on a video chat or conference call with colleagues or clients.
- Ask for a work phone. Many companies who allow employees to telecommute will provide a phone for such workers. This phone should be linked to the same network workers use in the office, and be a wholly separate line from your personal lines at home. It is important that telecommuters keep a separate phone solely for work so their personal and professional messages do not get mixed up.
- Use the technology at your disposal. One of the ways technology has made it easier to work from home is by providing a number of ways workers can stay in constant and instant contact with their coworkers. But such technology is only useful if telecommuters make it work for them. Video conferencing allows telecommuters to conduct face-to-face meetings with co-workers, while instant messaging lets you stay in touch with coworkers you work with directly. Use these programs to your advantage, and you’ll notice you’re not only more productive but also still able to maintain a personal connection with your coworkers.