Telecommuting has become a double-edged sword for many employers and employees alike. On the one hand, proponents claim it allows them to get more done, by removing the need for travel and the distractions of the office. On the other hand, some people say it’s much easier to slip into lethargy and lose motivation if you’re working in your dressing gown.
Your level of productivity when working from home most likely depends more on you as a person, though. All employees being equal (and we know they aren’t), the arguments are overwhelmingly in favour of working from home, especially in the digital age.
With technology, there’s no excuse to “need to be there”
If you’re working from home, and feeling like you need to be more “in front of the project” in order to fully get stuck in, it means you’re probably not making the best use of technology. Skype, a simple tool of which there are many more powerful business variants, is capable of a great many things: video conferencing and screen sharing, to name only two.
There are many tools which allow you to collaboratively create and edit documents (Google docs), check in software code (Microsoft TFS, JIRA), or oversee a construction site (video-conferencing mobile apps). If you feel like you’re disconnected from your work, find a better way to connect.
You start the day in a better mood
You can sleep later, and not have to sit in traffic and get stressed out by bad drivers and bad music on the radio. You don’t have to deal with crowded subways and buses, and you don’t have to rush your breakfast and morning coffee. This means you’re at your desk and ready to work by 9am, whereas if you were to drive to work you’ll spend the first fifteen minutes making coffee and catching up about the weekend.
You might miss out on these daily social interactions, but if you’re telecommuting then you knew that when you signed up.
You’re more comfortable in your own home
While some would say this isn’t necessarily the best thing, there are clearly fewer distractions and sources of stress in your home. You have your own bathroom, for one, and you don’t have to go out to buy lunch. You can easily pop out to go to the bank or the post office if you need to, and you don’t have to try and squeeze these things in before or after work, or in your lunch break. If you need to pick up the kids from school, it’s no longer an epic mission.
While not all of these will translate directly into productivity, they make for more relaxed, less stressed-out employees.
You can use all your own stuff
While most telecommuters are issued with a laptop and a Blackberry, this doesn’t mean you can’t use your own computer, desk and printer. You know how it all works, and where everything is. You like your own version of Word and Excel better than the crummy 2003 version they have on the office computers – it’s all about being in a space where you feel free to be your most productive.