These days most work takes place at a computer desk and the Internet can be used to accommodate almost any task. Given the how ubiquitous these technologies have become, more and more companies are exploring the option of allowing employees to work from their homes.
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Oddly, even at companies that offer this choice, many employees never take advantage of it; however, working from home can actually make you more productive than you would be at work. Here are four reasons why!
1. No Commute
The first advantage is obvious. Working from home means that you don’t have to commute to your office, which saves you time. There are other advantages, as well. For one thing, you’re not using gas to travel, saving you money and reducing your impact on the environment.
Skipping the daily commute can also have benefits that might be less apparent. Traveling to work can often be stressful, whether due to traffic, crowded public transportation or simply the stress of trying to make it to work on time. This stress leads to decreased productivity. A 2010 Greek study found that productivity is negatively affected by stress and positively affected by satisfaction.
2. Fewer Distractions
The office can have many distractions that you may not even realize are affecting your daily productivity. People can interrupt you to talk at any time, and you may have to take phone calls that disrupt your workflow.
Even background chatter can cause your focus to drift. These distractions are external and can be difficult to control. When working from home, you mostly deal with internal distractions. That is, your own desire to do something else instead of the task at hand; however, provided that you have the self-control to ignore these distractions, you can be far more productive.
At home, it is usually easier to eliminate external distractions since you have control of the space. This can make it easier to maintain your focus for longer periods.
3. More Motivation
A University of Illinois study found that employees who work from home might be more productive due to a subconscious desire to pay their employers back for the privilege.
Without the usual office interactions, those who work from home often go beyond the call of duty to prove that they are still valuable assets to the company. Many employers still feel that working from home will decrease productivity, since employees are not being closely monitored.
Those who work from home, however, actively seek to defend the arrangement by being more productive, even if they may not consciously realize that they are working harder.
4. More Happiness
Decreased stress leads to greater productivity and eliminating the commute is not the only way working from home makes employees happier. A survey by Staples showed that 80 percent of employees who telecommute reported a better work/life balance.
Stress levels dropped by an average of 25 percent, and 73 percent of respondents said that they eat healthier when working from home. In addition, 76 percent of employees said that they became more willing to put in extra time at work and more loyal to the company after they began telecommuting.
Some companies are still resistant to the idea of working from home, and middle managers tend to be especially opposed to telecommuting; those who micromanage rather than setting goals complain about being unable to observe productivity.
However, the evidence in favor of telecommuting is beginning to pile up. A study conducted at the Chinese travel website Ctrip found that employees who worked from home completed 13.5 percent more calls than those in the office did over a nine-month period.
Due to the reduced need for furniture and space, the company also saved an estimated $1,900 per employee during that period.
If happiness and productivity are important to you, and if you have the self-control to manage it, it might be time to explore telecommuting options at your company.