More and more individuals are working from home, and this trend is not slowing down any time soon across many different fields and occupations. A report based on the American Consumer Survey from 2005-2018 was published by the United States Census Bureau in 2019.
There has been a 173% increase in the number of workers who do at least some of their jobs from home since 2005, with 4.7 million people currently making up this percentage. This number does not account for people who work for themselves.
Everything from computer science and mathematics to commerce and finance to law is represented among the wide range of professions and sectors that embrace remote work.
Furthermore, the Bureau of Labor Statistics found that half of all workers in the United States are employed in jobs that may be performed remotely, at least in part.
Moreover, the study found that companies could save an average of $11,000 annually for every worker who was granted telecommuting privileges. Now is a great moment to broach the subject with your boss of making remote work, even in part, a regular part of your job perks.
However, you shouldn’t make the move unless you’ve done your homework on how telecommuting will change your life and the lives of your coworkers and boss.
What Is Working from Home?
When a worker telecommutes, it indicates they have a flexible work schedule and aren’t required to commute (constantly) to an office building, campus, or other location. In its place, they operate out of a home office or some other remote site. In addition to remote work, telecommuting is also known as.
Some telecommuting employees never visit a centralized office; they work from home entirely. Some people just conduct occasional part-time remote work on one or more days each week or month.
Even while working from home is a popular telework scenario, it’s not a must. They can work from anywhere in the world as long as they are capable of producing results and have access to the necessary tools, like a laptop and high-speed Internet access, to do so.
During the past ten years, the phrase digital nomad has actually entered the common lexicon. It refers to a person who works and lives nomadic lives while utilizing technology.
People who work from home frequently have a fixed address or live close to their workplace. Most of the time, they don’t venture far from home. Digital nomads, on the other hand, operate remotely while frequently shifting their places.
Digital nomads and telecommuters both have similar needs for their professional lives. To that end, if you now live or intend to live on the road full-time, check out extra resources as well, like our guide to living in an RV full-time and remote work you can accomplish from anywhere in the world.
Reasons Employers Permit Telecommuting
Many businesses have suspected, and a 2019 study by a Harvard Business School professor confirms what they’ve suspected anecdotally for years allowing employees to work remotely at least part-time leads to increased productivity compared to similar organizations that don’t allow remote work.
This study by the United States Patent Office found that remote workers enhanced output by 4.4%, which is equivalent to an additional $1.3 billion per year for the American economy.
Researchers also discovered that allowing workers to telecommute led to a higher retention rate. Over ninety-five percent of businesses surveyed by Global Workplace Analytics agree that telework policies have improved employee retention, which can lead to significant savings.
It costs an average of 33 percent of an employee’s annual compensation to replace them, according to Employee Benefits News, a newsletter focused on employee benefits. As a point of reference, an employee making $45,000 a year would pay $15,000 in taxes.
Further, the questioned businesses believed that avoiding 75% of the causes of employee turnover is possible. Due to these benefits, more and more companies are allowing their staff to telecommute at least occasionally.
The advantages and disadvantages of Telecommuting for Employees
It would be great to be able to work in a more relaxed setting, such as your house or a nearby coffee shop. Working from home has its benefits, but it also has its drawbacks, just like working in an office.
Advantages of Teleworking
The advantages of working from home are obvious, yet they still matter.
Examples of these are:
- All Work-Related Distractions Must Stop. You know the type: coworkers that drop by your office just as you’re settling into a productive routine. Additionally, you can be dealing with a negative work environment. A distraction exists whether or not your coworker’s behavior is malicious. Telecommuting is a great way to get more done in less time and with less stress because it allows you to avoid the distractions of the office and focus on your tasks from the comfort of your own home.
- The absence of a daily commute. According to the 2018 American Community Survey conducted by the Census Bureau, the average American spends more than 200 hours a year commuting, or about nine full workdays. This amounts to 27.1 minutes every day, each way. It’s true that some individuals actually enjoy their commute, or at least have figured out how to make the most of it, but working from home may save you a lot of time, money, and stress.
- Flexibility. Maybe you’re the type who prefers to get their workout in over their lunch break instead of before or after work. It’s possible that, during a conference call, you’d like to do anything else, like start a load of laundry or empty the dishwasher, without missing a beat. There’s no denying that when you work from home, you have more time to do things like run errands or clean the house during your lunch break or after work.
Disadvantages of Working From Home
There are certain disadvantages of telecommuting, but they may not all be a deal breaker for you. Knowing the potential challenges is helpful when making the switch to remote work or looking for a telecommuting position.
- Felt alone and abandoned. Working at an office might be distracting because of all the people around you while working from home can be isolating because there are fewer opportunities to engage with others. The 2018 Buffer study on the state of remote work found that loneliness was the largest challenge.
- Communication. Telecommuters still face difficulties in maintaining open lines of contact with their coworkers and superiors, despite the development of tools for doing so. In order to create professional relationships, casual conversations are essential, but they can be difficult to initiate if you aren’t physically present in the same room as other individuals. When you first start using a new piece of technology, it can take some time to become acclimated to its limitations. This is especially true with brainstorming over the phone or holding team meetings over video. The respondent’s second most prevalent complaint was related to distant collaboration and communication.
- Potentials lost. Some persons who telecommute experience the out-of-sight, out-of-mind problem when it comes to promotions, opportunities to work on plum projects, and employee professional growth, on top of the loneliness and extra effort required to stay in touch with coworkers. Isolating and shutting off telecommuters can occur even if that is not the intention of those making the decisions.
- A High Level of Independence. To perform adequately in our work, most of us require some degree of independence. However, there may be certain drawbacks to working at a distance. There is a greater risk of working through family time or doing personal duties during work hours when there is no supervisor there or office to go to. Support from other divisions, like IT or housekeeping, becomes harder to come by as a result.
What You Should Do to Get Ready for Telecommuting
After weighing the pros and downsides and figuring out how to strike a good work-life balance while working remotely, there are practical concerns to think about. There are a few things you’ll want to take care of before you leave the office, including your workspace and how your job gets done.
Many of us are accustomed to working on portable computers and can access the Internet via Wi-Fi or cellular hotspots from just about everywhere. While telecommuting has many advantages, it is important to consider the physical requirements of working from home.
In order to deal with your new situation with as little stress and disruption as possible, it is important to plan ahead.
Home offices should be set up in a quiet area apart from the main living quarters so that you may focus on your work without being interrupted by household chores or socializing.
If you don’t have the luxury of a separate area to use as your office, you should still take the time to create an environment that sends the message to you and your family that you’re in business when you’re there.
A home office can be anything from a converted closet to a nook in the living room with a desk, chair, and computer monitor. Whatever it is, reserving time and space for it can help you avoid blending your professional and personal lives too much.
Don’t go into debt attempting to make your at-home workspace look as nice as your actual office. There are numerous cost-effective options for setting up a home office.
Many businesses now provide shared office space, cubicles, and desks for rent to freelancers, remote workers, and entrepreneurs who find that working from home all day isn’t for them.
These shared office spaces, also known as co-working spaces, are perfect for people who either want to avoid the solitude of working from home or who require more resources than a typical coffee shop can offer.
WeWork, ImpactHub, and Serendipity Labs were the three largest U.S. coworking chains as of the beginning of 2020, per data from Coworking Resources.
Moreover, the average monthly cost of a coworking space in 15 major U.S. locations was between $335 (Houston) and $675 (New York City) as of the beginning of 2020, according to coworking marketplace Upsuite.
2. Access to High-Speed Internet
It can’t be helped. In order to successfully telecommute, you need access to a fast Internet connection. Time to upgrade to a faster internet provider if you don’t already have one.
Using a mobile hotspot on your phone or stealing your neighbor’s Wi-Fi won’t cut it. Follow these tips to reduce your monthly cost of high-speed Internet.
Since having access to the Internet is essential for telecommuters, you may be able to deduct a portion of your monthly expense from your taxes if you itemize and only claim the amount that corresponds to your work-related usage. This is something only a tax expert can help you calculate.
If you plan to work from home, it is imperative that you have the proper tools to do so. In addition to a computer, you may also require a phone (Xfinity Mobile is a great option), an external monitor, high-quality speakers, a microphone, or a headset for teleconferencing and video chats, and a screen protector to prevent eye strain (check out this anti-blue light screen protector from Ocushield).
If your company will be providing a computer, make sure you have plenty of time to set it up and resolve any technical difficulties with the help of the IT staff before you leave.
When problems arise while working from home, you can’t immediately call IT to fix the problem. If you plan on doing any sort of remote work, you’ll need a plan in place for acquiring technical help.
Help with implementing security measures like two-factor authentication and backing up your files to an offsite server is also available from IT. Make sure you have a secure login for any websites or applications you need access to when you’re away from the office already established.
4. Miscellaneous Supplies
If you plan on working from home, there are a few things you’ll need in addition to a computer and appropriate software. How will you manage the time and money involved, for instance, if you need to send something in the mail or transport products or materials to a client?
Do you have a supply of printer paper and other office necessities on hand? You should evaluate your paper needs and determine if you can get by without a printer, scanner, and copier. Who will be footing the bill for these costs, you or your employer?
Have you been issued a company credit card or will you be reimbursed? Smoothing over to remote work is facilitated by having a written plan for various incidentals.
When you’ve settled into your virtual office area, it’s time to think about how you’ll feel about your newfound freedom.
The convenience of working from home, such as not having to make the commute, is sometimes overshadowed by the psychological and emotional challenges that come with working from afar.
The biggest problems people have with telecommuting are related to feelings of isolation and loneliness. Create a strategy to deal with them.
You’re undoubtedly used to hearing other people in the office and seeing coworkers when you step away from your workstation, even if you prefer to work in peace and quiet at your desk.
Realizing you won’t be able to bank on these chance meetings at home, you might wonder how to include them once again in your life.
For some, this might be as easy as scheduling lunch meetings or working from a public location like a library or coffee shop instead of their usual residence. Even if you’re stuck inside all day, you may force yourself to leave the house and interact with other people by running errands during your lunch break.
6. Establishing Limits
The difficulty of maintaining work-life separation is another common criticism leveled by those who do their jobs remotely. As the day comes to a close, it can be challenging to switch off your thoughts and relax.
Several strategies exist for addressing this problem.
- In the same way that an office worker is expected to clock off at a set hour every day, students are also expected to establish daily work limits.
- Removing yourself physically from your work environment, such as by turning off your computer or locking your office door,
- Saying aloud, “It’s quitting time,” or “I’m done with work for the day,” can assist you in mentally separating from your task.
- Wearing professional attire to work and switching to casual clothes for the evening.
And if you have kids, working from home has some unique challenges. Find your own method of success and stick with it.
Working from home presents its own set of challenges, similar to those encountered in a traditional office. You’ll still be easily sidetracked, but this time by something other than the contents of your fridge, a demanding child, or the allure of doing some housework when you should be focusing on your work.
Be wary of letting the convenience of working from home detract from your productivity. A closed office door or divider might serve as a visual cue that you are in the midst of work and not free to engage in other activities.
The ability to motivate oneself is crucial for working remotely. The ability to force yourself to work even when you’d rather nap or watch TV instead is essential.
Find out what keeps you going when you start to lose motivation and return your attention to that. Remember why you’re working so hard by keeping a picture of your loved ones in a frame and keeping it where you can view it every day.
Stick a note with your loan balance on your computer screen if you’re trying to stay motivated to pay it off. Whatever it is that drives you, making sure that constant reminders of it are right where your eyes can see them can enable you to stay on track.
Since your coworkers and superiors can’t see you, they might assume that you’re not putting in your whole effort. Implementing a system of responsibility is one of the most effective preventative measures that can be taken to deal with this problem.
A time-tracking tool like Toggl may help you see exactly what you’re spending your time on and set priorities, while a task management app like Airtable allows your employer and coworkers to monitor your progress on projects.
If you’d rather not use any fancy technology, you can always just send your team a weekly email summarizing your activities in a few bullet points. If you want people to be held accountable, you need to keep the lines of communication open, regardless of the approach you take.
If you’re not regularly in front of your coworkers’ or partners’ eyes, they won’t forget about you. Use a free app like Slack or Flowdock to have casual conversations with your coworkers.
Zoom can assist with your video chatting needs. Trello is useful if you only need to keep everyone on the same page virtually. Research the various open-source options for teamwork and select the one that will serve you and your coworkers best.
If you are eligible for a home office deduction, telecommuting might simplify your tax situation. The home office deduction is currently only available to self-employed telecommuters.
It was possible for workers to claim the home office deduction before the Tax Cuts and Jobs Acts of 2017, however, that option is no longer available. Know the ins and outs of the home office deduction whether you run a small business or are self-employed to ensure you are in accordance with IRS rules.
Remember to clarify your withholding allowances with your employer by April 15 if you are working remotely because you have migrated to a different city or state.
Withholding amounts for state income taxes may need to be changed if your new state of residence has a different income tax bracket than your previous state of residence.
Additionally, now is the time to seek the counsel of a licensed tax expert for guidance on how your new circumstances will impact your tax obligations.
In addition to the physical and emotional preparations for working from home, there are a few more things to think about before you take the plunge.
12. Networking and Professional Development Possibilities
Professional growth and networking are still important even while working from home, and can help you advance in your chosen field. Nonetheless, it can be challenging to learn about conferences and networking happy hours when you’re not physically there in the office.
Take the initiative to avoid falling behind. To ensure that you don’t miss out on any possibilities, sign up for mailing lists and newsletters and set calendar reminders to reach out to coworkers.
13. Implementing Continual Check-Ins
Whether it’s a weekly phone chat with your boss, a monthly lunch with your coworkers, a quarterly visit to headquarters for a day of meetings, or some combination of these, make sure to schedule regular check-ins with your employer as you design your remote work plan.
Keep these from being vague. Keep them consistent, on track, and measurable. By putting these on everyone’s schedule, you can better control expectations and avoid misunderstandings. You can change your plans if you discover that you have included more activities than necessary.
Workers and businesses alike can reap many advantages from allowing employees to work from home. You’ll be able to save money on gas, spend more time with your loved ones, and get more done if you work from home.
After carefully considering the pros and cons of telecommuting and making sure you’re both physically and emotionally ready to make the transition, you may go for it and start working from home.