may even be possible to avoid the
expense of buying one in the first
place. Eliminating the commute
also means that the worker can be
productive during the time they
would normally spend traveling.
Telecommuting allows workers to
attend meetings without having to
physically travel to different offices
or locations, thereby reducing business travel expenses.
home can have similar distractions—children, family, friends, pets and other
personal issues that would not be a consideration at the office. There are also
other, more subtle distractions, such as household chores or TV.
Blurring the Lines Between Work and Home
Working from home does require you to separate your work and personal
day, so that you clearly define when you are working and when you are off
the clock. Without the natural psychological cues that you are at work (like
riding a train or driving to the office) it can become easy to allow your work
life to take over at home. Very few of us are immune from this encroaching
into our personal lives—launching into e-mails on a Saturday morning because of an inability to disconnect.
Working from home can allow individuals to avoid the disturbances
and interferences that can come
with many office-based roles. In
the previously mentioned Stanford
University experiment, the company allowed workers from both the
home and office group to choose
where they wished to work. Just
over half of the home group opted
to continue working from home,
together with around one third of
the office group.
For some workers, being home-based allowed them to excel in an
environment with fewer distractions, while others needed the social interaction that a busy workplace provided. According to the
authors of the report, “… workers
with relatively better performance
at home remained at home while
those performing relatively poorly
at home returned to the office.”
Home-based working can lead to longer hours because work is so readily
accessible. Telecommuting workers may be expected to work on nights and
weekends in order to get projects done on time. This can be an advantage
for those who need or want to put in extra hours, but for others it can be a
trap that drains away their evenings and leaves them at risk from burnout
because they never switch off.
Home-workers sometimes lack access to support staff and equipment—
clerical tasks like scanning, making copies or stapling brochures cannot be
delegated to others. Worse, because these tasks are often less urgent, they can
end up being pushed to the end of the pile and worked on at 9:00 p.m.
Telecommuting can eliminate certain work distractions while creating others. For instance, employees can avoid the casual coworker
drop-by, which can end up wasting
time and hindering productivity.
On the other hand, working from
and self-discipline—are essential
characteristics for successfully
working from home. Being home-based comes with a different set
of challenges, distractions and
temptations compared to working
in an office environment, where
you are surrounded by your peers.
Learning to set objectives and
prioritize work, breaking it
down into manageable tasks,
prioritizing tasks for completion
and monitoring your progress
throughout the day—while
taking into account the inevitable
adjustments as priorities change—
is essential to succeed.
Depending on the nature of your work, you may spend several hours a day
on your own without access to colleagues or customers. The recent extreme
weather wrought by Hurricane Sandy forced many office-based workers to
work from home temporarily and in many cases the reality was a lot tougher
than expected. To read more about Hurricane Sandy, turn to page 28.
Making important decisions independently while lacking immediate
communication with colleagues or customers can pose challenges. Having
an independent streak can help; those looking for constant reinforcement can