Pros and Cons of Telecommuting

Factors for employees and employers

Are you spending more time working from home? Does your employer give you this option? Have you moved your business operation to your home full-time or started a new stay-at-home job? You are not alone. 

Telecommuting is on the upswing. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, an estimated 20 to 30 million Americans are now working at home for at least one day a week, and the number of telecommuters continues to grow unabated. Certainly, advances in technology have helped fuel the trend. Wireless devices, Web applications and other online tools, such as meeting software, make it easier to interact with colleagues when you work from a remote site. 

Is telecommuting “better” or “worse” for workers and employers? There are several potential pros and cons to consider.

 Pros of telecommuting: Here are some of the reasons why you or your employer might prefer to work from home instead of in a traditional office or other workplace setting. 

  • You do not have to spend time commuting back and forth from work.
  • It is easier to focus without the usual workplace distractions.
  • There are no transportation costs.
  • It can provide a better balance of work and personal pursuits.
  • Employers may save money on real estate and other overhead expenses.
  • It has shown to be more productive for many employees.
  • People can work at their own pace without pressure. 

Cons of telecommuting: Conversely, telecommuting is not beneficial for everyone concerned. Here are several negative aspects to consider. 

  • The employee has less personal contact with managers and coworkers, hindering communication.
  • It can be more difficult for managers to supervise someone working from home.
  • The worker may have more disruptions at home, resulting in reduced productivity.
  • You might miss the social aspect of working with peers.
  • Having a remote workplace could jeopardize security for the company.

 Nevertheless, there are some steps to take that may minimize the cons on this list. For example: 

  1. Come into the office occasionally: Even if you work from home full-time, some regular face-to-face interaction can be helpful. Go out of your way to attend important scheduled meetings.
  2. Establish the rights and responsibilities. Know when you are expected to be onsite. Become familiar with the company’s policy on telecommuting and adhere to it.
  3. Make sure you remain accessible. Let other people at work know how to reach you during business hours. Use the new technology to your advantage. 
  4. Keep track of your work flow. This can enable employers and employees alike to assess the productivity of working from home. 

Finally, try to remain flexible. If you are relatively new at working from home, or you just started working from home on a full-time basis, you may encounter a few glitches in the system. Make the necessary adjustments that are appropriate under the circumstances.