The option to work from home (WFH) has gained traction in recent years. Some companies offer a variety of WFH options, ranging from one day a week up to 100% telecommuting. Full-time WFH has become even more prevalent in the wake of the pandemic.
As concerns of the pandemic diminish, many office buildings are re-opening and asking their employees to return to the office. Other offices are taking a more conservative approach with either some variation of WFH being allowed or continuing along the path of full-time WFH being offered indefinitely.
At JBS Custom Software Solutions, we have always been a 100% work-from-home company since its founding. Our years of experience in this area with both working from home AND managing those who work from home, provide our teams with the greatest chances of success, while also ensuring a healthy work-life balance.
We touched on some of the management concerns of remote workers in a previous article titled Working from Home - Agile Everywhere. For this series, however, we want to address specifically the benefits/concerns/pitfalls that remote workers may be thinking about.
Benefits of WFH
One of the key benefits of WFH is saving money. There are obvious savings for things such as commuting, food, etc. In fact, according to this article, you could save anywhere from $2,000 to $5,000 per year on your commute alone. But there are some less obvious ones that you may not be thinking about...
This is especially true if you work in a business firm or business casual environment. Chances are good that you have a wardrobe that you need to keep at least reasonably refreshed for your daily work attire. When you work full-time, you can more than likely reduce the need to buy as many outfits as are required if you had to be in the office every day.
Depending on how much work you do at home, you can deduct a portion or all of your internet expenses. The same is true for other things such as your office, your electricity, computer hardware, etc.
Most insurance companies use your average daily commute as a factor in what they charge you per year for car insurance. You may be eligible for additional discounts by contacting your insurance company and indicating to them that you no longer have a daily commute for your job.
Time is Money
If you consider your time (even your non-working hours) as valuable, it is reasonable to consider your commute time as a financial benefit. According to flexjobs.com, the average worker spends 54.2 minutes per day on their commute. If your time is worth something to you, then that's an immediate savings of about 1 hour per day for most workers.
This largely depends on how flexible your company is when it comes to the times that you are actually available and working. Most businesses that have WFH as a common offering will often have "core hours" that employees must be available for a given day. For example, a business could say that you must work 8hrs per day, but you only need to be available and working between the hours of 10:00 am - 3:00 pm (not including lunch). Some companies will be even more flexible and just indicate that you must work 40hrs per week, without regard to when those hours are worked.
Being able to run errands, whether it's a trip to a store, waiting for a contractor at home, can be a huge benefit to working from home. This can save having to take PTO (Personal Time Off) while you are waiting at home for that elusive Comcast guy who is supposed to show up "between 10:00 am and 12:00 pm" and does not arrive until 2:00 pm.
When you have flexibility in your work schedule, this provides some neat options for those who have families. Being flexible to take a few hours to spend with your kids, or to go out on a spontaneous brunch-date with your significant other, are great options to have when working from home.
Sometimes you have days that you just can't stay awake. Taking a nap at work might seem like a bit of a faux pas, but a 1-2 hours nap over lunch can really change the rest of your day and be of great value to not only you but also to your productivity for the company. If you had to show up at the office every day, the only practical way to get a nap would be to snooze in your car, which often is not ideal.
Work When Sick but not Severe
With increased concerns about spreading sicknesses among coworkers, there is also increased pressure to take time off from the office even when you have just got a little sniffle. When you are not sick enough to take a day off, being able to work through it while keeping your snots confined in your immediate area, is a wonderful option that will leave that PTO open for when you really need it!
Less Distraction, More Focus
Think of all the distractions that you get when in the office. I can not help but think of the movie "Office Space". Between the constant interruptions by his multiple "bosses" and the nagging and banter by the main character's peers, it's astonishing that he never got anything done in a given day. While Office Space is just a movie, it is often frighteningly accurate in how well it represents the distractions we get while at the office.
Next time you are in the office, make note of how often you get interrupted by someone walking by your office or cubicle. Especially for those with any sort of engineering position, every interruption can have a costly impact on productivity. A single five-minute interruption can cost an average of 28 minutes of lost productivity PER INTERRUPTION! In fact, that same article also goes on to suggest that workers could be losing up to 6 hours of productivity per day.
Those that are more the social-type, we often relish in that talk in the break room with others. That is a good thing! But when we see others just hanging out, it can often be tempting to hang out as well. Suddenly thirty minutes go by and you wondered what happened to the time. When working from home, in general you have to be more intentional about when you take breaks. That can be a good thing, if managed properly (more on this in Part 2).
Audio and Visual Distractions (noises of people, etc.)
People clipping their nails, heads bobbing above the cubicles, music turned up just a bit too loud, people having a conversation as though they are the only two people in the room. These are just a few of many examples that can really kill the productivity of workers who have to share space. Being able to work from home, free from distractions of others, can really recoup those lost minutes of distractions that you get in the office.
The more people who WFH, the better! It means less gas consumption, less waste, less road noise, and less traffic. All good things for a better environment!
Thanks for reading, stay tuned for part 2 of this series as we discuss three main concerns associated with working from home (WFH).
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