Telecommuting is becoming more and more commonplace for employees across the U.S. In 2019, 54% of U.S. workers work remotely at least once per month, 48 percent took work from home days at least once a week, and 30 percent worked remotely full-time.
Technological advances have made the practice less disruptive for employers to offer work from home opportunities, such as with the integration of video conferencing technology and collaborative cloud files and documents.
Telecommuting isn’t for everyone, however, and can often make employees weigh whether they prefer the convenience over less coworker interaction. When searching for your next job, consider the following pros and cons of telecommuting.
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What is Telecommuting?
Telecommuting can be referred to by several names including teleworking, work from home, and remote working. The term refers to the ability for employees to work outside of the office instead of coming into work every day.
Approved locations for telecommuting may be predetermined based on security concerns or personal preference, and the frequency of this benefit can vary from full-time, part-time based on a certain number of hours worked, and part-time benefits granted each month, similar to vacation time or paid time off.
Advantages of Telecommuting
1. Eliminates Time-Consuming Commutes
One of the most popular benefits of telecommuting is that the worker spends less time and money on their commute to and from the office, which reduces car wear and tear and fuel usage. This can encourage more productive workdays if employees are able to get a head start on their work from home or a remote location instead of sitting in traffic.
2. Fewer Distractions
For some, working in the office potentially brings distractions that cause frequent stops or restarts, which hinders work productivity. Working remotely removes office-related interruptions from an employee’s day, allowing them to focus on their tasks.
3. Promotes Mental Health
The option to work from home can make employees happier if they are able to better balance their work and personal life. With a more flexible work location or schedule, team members can plan work around hobbies, active lifestyles, or other obligations, such as childcare. Telecommuting can also positively affect mental health by removing the often-stressful commute from a person’s day.
4. Removes Distance Barriers
Working from home also increases the job opportunities available to a job seeker or worker by removing geographic distance from the equation. By eliminating the need to come into the office as frequently, a person living far from their company’s office can make their location more compatible with their work life than if they had to come into the office five or more days a week.
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Disadvantages of Telecommuting
1. Little Human Contact
While some people prefer as little human contact as possible to boost their productivity, others need to break up the workday with social interaction or work better face-to-face as opposed to over the phone or through video call. Those working from home on a full-time basis may experience increased feelings of loneliness or feeling left out compared to more frequent contact with their coworkers in the office.
2. Can Create New Distractions
Some people require an office environment to get focused and to eliminate distractions while working, such as hobbies, TV shows, and leisure computer use. Working from home can decrease productivity for people requiring a hands-on team structure to stay on task.
For some, their home or remote workspace may have similar or more distractions than the office when considering nearby strangers (such as in a coffee shop), pets, family members, or errands.
3. Can Negatively Affect Team Chemistry
Telecommuting can decrease team morale and weaken coworker relationships. Without frequent in-person contact, it can become difficult to feel connected with team members and build rapport, which can decrease the ability for the team to work together smoothly under tight deadlines or stressful situations.
4. Can Bring Security Concerns
Employees working remotely can also unknowingly introduce security vulnerabilities for business documents and project assets. Using devices or connections outside of their company’s secured network can expose files to malicious attacks when they would otherwise have additional layers of protection. Losing control of sensitive data often results in wasted time and lost resources.
Is Telecommuting The Right Fit For You?
When determining if telecommuting is the right fit for you, consider these factors:
- Industry - Telecommuting is likely not an option for sectors that rely heavily on hands-on tasks, such as manufacturing.
- Social Preference - Your need for social interaction will likely determine whether you prefer to work in a team environment or on your own.
- Proximity to Office - Your distance and level of traffic to the office will likely influence whether you want to work more or less remotely.