There are many arguments in favour of ‘working from anywhere’, both from the employee’s and employer’s perspective and, now that SaaS technology is commonplace, telecommuting is no longer a luxury. Here are five often overlooked reasons to telecommute.
1) You’ll benefit from your own company
Without the regular distractions of a busy office you are afforded more dedicated time to work through your daily tasks.
According to a study carried out by the University of Calgary, simply being able to see a colleague working on something different to you is enough to slow down your own performance.
The reason for this is a built-in response-interpretation mechanism that’s hard-wired into our central nervous system. If we see someone performing a task we automatically imagine ourselves performing that task. This behaviour is part of our mirror neuron system.
Other distractions that can be avoided (whether welcomed or not) include:
- Colleague’s questions
- General movement within the office
- Coffee rounds
- Questions regarding company devices and/or software being used
As of March 2014 over 4.2 million UK employees worked from home.
2) You’ll avoid being part of the ‘rat race’ (at least for a day)
As well as the obvious time and cost savings involved in not having to travel to the office (the average London worker spends over an hour per day and over £1,400 per year commuting*), there are also health benefits.
For one thing, you’re not subjected to the pollution levels that exist in most cities and built up areas.
Avoiding the commute to the office also helps to reduce the stresses associated with travelling in cramped, over crowded carriages and fighting your way through the transport systems.
Some of the effects of commuting include:
- A rise in your blood sugar levels if driving more than 10 miles each way
- Higher cholesterol if driving more than 10 miles one way
- A commute of more than 20 miles per day can lead to a higher risk of depression, anxiety and social isolation
- Higher anxiety levels
- Reduced happiness
- A spike in high blood pressure, as well as increased rates long term
- You can’t sleep as well
- You can develop back or neck pain
According to a research paper published in the Journal of Health Economics, it was found that the commute adversely effects woman more than men. The reason given for this (the only reason concluded) is that women have to make more stops and complete more tasks on their commute than men in general.
One major symptom of many health problems is absenteeism, this obviously carries costs and inconvenience for business.
With all of these potential problems associated with most office based employees journeys, it’s also in the best interest for employers to introduce and promote telecommuting.
3) You can decide to work the hours when you’re more effective
Those employees who have the option to change their hours are often more engaged and greater brand advocates, who are happier in their role and have a greater sense of wellbeing.
Employers that encourage flexible working hours benefit from the above effects on employees, as well as reduced absenteeism and improved employer branding. They’ll encourage a happier, healthier and more productive culture of employees, who are aligned with the brand vision and goals.
In a speech entitled ‘Business benefits of flexible working‘ Jenny Willott from the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills stated:
“A government survey of employers’ attitude to work-life balance found that the majority of businesses surveyed found flexible working had a positive impact on employee relations and employee motivation. Surveys by the CBI and BCC in the last couple of years have found exactly the same.”
The industries which made up the largest proportion of home workers in the UK in 2014 was banking and finance, real estate and admin support services.
4) Your pet’s at home
Working at home can be a bit lonely if there’s no one else in the house. If you have one, a dog is known to reduce loneliness and provide some camaraderie throughout the day. They’re great listeners – that’s right – tell you dog your ideas and talk through problems you might encounter during the day, you’ll be surprised how effective it is to say things out loud.
Dogs also force owners to take a break and give people a valid excuse to get out of the work environment and go for a walk (which is also known to improve morale, motivation, productivity, wellness and creativity).
According to a study by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, owning a pet can decrease blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and increase opportunities for exercise during breaks, both of which have immense health benefits.
Pets of all kinds are also known to reduce stress and encourage us to work beyond those hours that we might normally do when in the office.
A fish tank, for instance, is a great stress reliever and will add some colour and interest to any working environment.
5) You can control your working environment
Quite often when you telecommute you can choose where to setup your ‘desk’, which isn’t a luxury most of us have in the office.
Whether it’s your home office or a local coffee shop, just by having the option of picking where to work is a real advantage and a boost to morale and job satisfaction.
Having a choice of environment means that we can assess our work location based on criteria that we have no control over if in an office, including:
- Natural light instead of fluorescent strip lighting
- Fresh air instead of air conditioning
- Lower ambient noise as opposed to distracting conversations or other office sounds
- Fresh, healthy food and drink at lunchtime instead of pre-made sandwiches and crisps
- A generally more pleasant environment, such as the garden, instead of the same old office
- More plants in your working environment
“Telecommuting isn’t brain surgery. It’s very easy to implement, but it’s breaking down the barriers” – Kathy King
*As of 2014
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