Telecommuting, working from home, working out of a coffee shop or on a blanket in the park just a few blocks from the office - however you label it - can be rewarding. Studies from Stanford, a host of research firms, and just plain ol’ guys named James, have all thrown in their two cents on why telecommuting can boost productivity.
Here are three reasons why they might be right.
Before headphones were ever acceptable at the office, think how many times employees are inadvertently interrupted from conversations down the hall, or right next to them? A simple close of the microwave door or that gurgling sound the watercooler makes when someone gets water? The A/C or heat kicking in and startling you?
Heck, even with headphones, employees are still getting pulled away from their monitors for something. And no matter if the distraction was 5 seconds or 5 minutes, it can be a struggle to get back to what is was you were working on.
It’s safe to say when you’re telecommuting, the only distractions you face are self-inflicted.
Less Stressful Scenarios Play Out
One of the easiest ways to see how telecommuting helps people become more productive is they get to avoid common stress points. The morning and evening commutes. All the negative office talk, whether it’s political, sports-related, or some other theme that might set off a soap box moment - all that’s gone.
Not to mention working from home reduces the employee’s chances of having to burn through sick days because, not surprisingly, they won’t be near the communal germ hazards of the office: door handles, refrigerators, furniture, tables - you name it.
It’s A Boon to Productivity
It’s been estimated telecommuting increases an employee’s productivity by an average of 22%. Moreover, research found that employees who telecommute at least once a week end up putting in 5 or 7 more hours a week than those who just work in the office. Much of that could be chalked up to some of the reasons above.
Another reason lies inside another statistic: 43% of respondents to an ORC International study said their work/life balance is much better. It’s not hard to assume that employees who find a happy medium here will perform at a higher level when it comes time to crack open the laptop at home.
Now I’m not completely against or completely for telecommuting. I’m somewhere in the middle. But it’s not my opinion that should be the deciding factor. It’s up to employers to know whether they’re office model is built for this perk. Discover whether your employees would be receptive to working from home occasionally. Maybe give it a test run for a few days and try to judge the productivity levels to the days of working inside the office. Is there a significant drop or spike?