Do you want to see the world? If yes, then you should work from home.
How is that even possible? When you say, “Work from home” what it really means is that you are working outside the confines of a formal office.
You don’t have to beat rush hour traffic in the morning and in the afternoon.
You don’t have to clock in and clock out.
You don’t have to wear formal office clothes.
You don’t strictly follow a 9-to-5 schedule with a one-hour lunch break.
Unless you are a telecommuter, you don’t have a boss to directly report to.
Your “home” could be anywhere.
Of course, you could work from your own house. You could also work from your favorite coffee shop, the gym, the supermarket, or at the public park.
You could also travel; see the world while working at the same time. There are no boundaries to where you want to go.
Who Works From Home?
Working from home is a matter of choice: Yours or your company’s.
According to data from the US Small Business Administration (USSBA), 99% of all businesses registered in the US are categorized as “small” and more than 50% of these small businesses work from home.
It makes sense for small businesses to start out from home. As we will discuss shortly, working from home has several advantages for the start-up. However, these advantages will also carry over to more established businesses.
Another study, this time the GEM Entrepreneurship Report, revealed the following statistics:
- 69% of start-ups work from home
- 59% of established businesses are home-based
It is not just the start-ups and established entrepreneurs who are taking the home-based route. Freelancers are another component of the home-based economy.
Freelancers are professionals; remote workers who offer their services to companies on a contractual basis.
Here is a typical profile of a freelancer:
- Well-experienced; put in years working the 9-to-5 shift
- Knowledgeable and highly-competent in a specific skill or discipline; many are certified or licensed in the field of expertise
- Good with computers; ability to perform tasks using a variety of software programs
A 2017 report by the New York Times showed that roughly 43% of the US workforce has done freelance work.
The growth of the freelance market has given rise to another segment of the home-based economy: the Telecommuter.
Telecommuters are often confused with freelancers. Although both types of home-based professionals work from a remote location, telecommuters are hired by a company.
Telecommuters start out as FTEs or Full-Time Employees of the company. Eventually, they are transitioned to Telecommuter status by the company for the purposes of cutting cost and increasing productivity.
Yahoo! under Marissa Mayer was one of the first US companies to experiment with telecommuters. Mayer wanted to see if productivity would increase if workers were allowed to work from home.
While Mayer’s telecommuting program produced the desired results during its early years, eventually it fell short of the company’s long-term goals and had to be discontinued.
Yahoo’s failure in telecommuting did not stop other companies from integrating telecommuters in the workforce.
Here is a partial list of US companies that continue to hire telecommuters:
- Working Solutions
It has been projected by market analysts that by 2020, more than 50% of the US workforce will be composed of telecommuters.
7 Benefits Of Working From Home
So what are the benefits of working from home?
1. Higher Level of Productivity
We have often quoted a report by productivity coach, Steve Pavlina, which revealed that out of 480 office minutes, workers are only productive for 90 minutes. That is only 19% productivity.
This finding is substantiated by another report which showed that American companies lose an estimated $1.8 Trillion a year due to low productivity.
What factors affect productivity?
- Distractions at work – Internet surfing, social media
- Water cooler chatter
- The long commute, traffic
Companies found out that by integrating telecommuters into the workforce, these factors would be mitigated and productivity would improve. A 2-year study conducted by Stanford University confirmed the positive impact of telecommuting on productivity.
Are distractions present when you work from home?
Yes. You will have distractions when you work from home but these factors are easier to manage compared to time spent at the office:
- Put away the mobile phone; leave a voice message
- Use a separate PC for work; it should have no access to social media and other non-work related sites
- Utilize focus blocks; 90 minutes of 100% focus for work followed by a rest period of 30 minutes
2. Lower Attrition Rate
Attrition is a reduction in the workforce whether through resignation or retirement. In the context of Human Resources (HR), attrition is synonymous with the weakening of the workforce.
A company that has a high rate of employee turnover – employees leaving the workforce – has a negative connotation. When a company has a reputation for having high attrition rates, the common assumptions relate to an unhappy workforce.
In its 2018 report, the Work Institute estimates that 1 in 4 Americans will leave the workforce to look for better opportunities. The alarming statistic should be a wakeup call for most employers to meet the demands and expectations of their employees.
A proven way to lower the levels of attrition is to hire remote or home-based workers. Studies have shown that employees who have accepted telecommuting assignments are much happier and productive.
For companies, lower attrition rates mean more savings. They are able to save almost $11,000 per employee in terms of absenteeism, turnover, and overhead costs.
How about work from home entrepreneurs?
Ask home-based entrepreneurs how different it is working from home and an office. Many, if not all will tell you they are happier with the new career direction for the following reasons:
- They no longer have to worry about rush hour traffic.
- They don’t have to deal with office politics.
- As business owners, what they earn equates to their level of productivity. When you are an FTE or Full Time Employee, your salary essentially encapsulates your worth to the company.
- They set their own work schedule.
Instead of having to worry about traffic, a home-based entrepreneur can get started on work right after having his first mug of coffee!
3. Better Life/Work Balance
As an FTE, your schedule is at the mercy of the Workforce Manager or the Supervisor. If you are asked to put in overtime work to finish a deadline, you can’t say “No” even if it means missing your daughter’s ballet performance or your son’s football game.
In some cases, you may even have to bring work to your home. Instead of having a nice glass of red wine and a plate of cheese with crackers with the wife on a Friday night, you find yourself crunching numbers or finishing up a report.
Working from home assures you of a better life/work balance because now you have complete control of your schedule. If you are a freelancer, your client may give you deadlines.
However, all the client cares about is that you complete the project on or before the due date. It will not matter how you set your schedule.
When you have a better life/work balance you are happier because you are able to fulfill your obligations to both your clients and family. It makes you feel more fulfilled. You no longer live for work but instead, work to live.
4. Streamlined Costs of Business
Some entrepreneurs believe that your business should have a brick-and-mortar office. So they look for affordable office space, pay the required security and rental deposits, buy furniture, and make the daily commute to work every day.
Over time they realize that they could have saved hundreds if not thousands of dollars every month if they managed their business from home.
In the first place, by working from home, you can save up on the following expenses:
- Tenant dues
- Internet service
Of course, you can factor in the estimated rental cost on your home office to get a more accurate measure of business performance. However, you don’t really pay actual rent.
Likewise, businesses that outsource work also reap the cost-saving benefits of contracting the services of freelancers, telecommuters, and other third-party service providers.
In our experience, clients save money by contracting Mountaintop to handle website management, digital marketing, and content marketing instead of hiring FTEs. They save up on salaries, employee benefits, rental space, the additional cost of Internet bandwidth, power, water, and office supplies.
5. Stay Fit and Healthy
Stress is one of the leading contributors to heart disease, strokes, type 2 diabetes, obesity, and other dangerous illnesses and conditions. Your career can be a major source of stress.
In addition to overtime work and meeting deadlines, you also have to deal with traffic, office politics, lack of job fulfillment, financial problems, the threat of being laid-off, the absence of a clear career/succession path, and company culture to name a few.
Doctors prescribe regular exercise as the best way to manage stress. Those who work in an office environment say they have “no time to work out” because they are “too busy”.
Working from home will afford you the time to exercise. You don’t even have to go to a gym to get exercise. You can get a few exercise equipment such as dumbbells, resistance bands, a Yoga Mat, and a jump rope to get started.
Or why not take a quick run or a 30-minute stroll at the park?
You can also eat healthier food when working from home. You have complete control over what you eat. Sure it takes time to prepare your meals. But with advanced planning, you can pre-pack your meals and just reheat your food for a few minutes when you want to eat.
Office people tend to patronize bars, restaurants, and the food court for lunch. While some restaurants offer healthier fare, it will be hard to choose a fresh garden salad with olive oil vinaigrette dressing when everyone else is ordering hamburgers with French fries!
Taking frequent naps is another good way to combat the effects of stress. You might be allowed by your employer to take a 10-minute nap during your break. However, taking a 30-minute nap in your own bed or favorite couch is even better.
6. Generate Higher Savings
Working in an office entails daily expenses. Your list of expenses includes gasoline, food, water, and an allowance for contingencies. You will also be tempted to spend more.
Thinking of going to the mall for a quick bite? You might end up buying something else other than just food and drink. Of course, there are the get-togethers with the office mates. It is not uncommon for office mates to have a few drinks at the bar after work hours.
The expenses all seem insignificant until you check the daily balance of your bank account.
You will spend less when you are working from home. First, you don’t have to commute. Second, everything you need – food and water – are already in place. Lastly, unless you watch the shopping network during your break time, there is nothing at home that will tempt you to spend.
Thus, spending less means you can save more of your hard-earned income. The money that you used to spend on gasoline, food, drink, and contingencies will now go to your savings account.
How much money are we talking about?
According to a survey by CareerBuilder, the average American office worker spends $3,500 per year on transportation, food, coffee, water, and contingencies! You can do a lot with $3,500 in your bank account every year.
7. Provides an Environmentally-Friendly Solution
A study conducted by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) revealed that we could prevent 1.5 billion pounds of gas emissions if all office equipment was Energy Star certified.
The problem is when you set up an office, your priority is to buy equipment that will fit your budget. Oftentimes, these types of office equipment may not be environmentally friendly.
With fewer expenses, you can purchase more environmentally friendly equipment for your home office. For many people, especially the Millennials, creating a sustainable workspace is a big incentive for working at home.
You do not need as much paper and can do away with equipment such as fax machines, printers, and copiers when setting up your home-based office.
Did we convince you about the benefits of working from home? Before you make a decision to move your business from a brick-and-mortar office to your home, there are a few things you need to consider:
- Make sure your home office is conducive for productive work. There should be no distractions within the area. No TV. No refrigerator. The PC should be dedicated for work purposes only.
- Prepare for contingencies. Be ready to move to another location in case of power failure. If you are not confident of your Internet Service Provider (ISP), consider getting a backup ISP.
- If you live with other people, ask them to respect your business hours. That includes your kids.
- Make sure your PC is reliable. That is your bread and butter equipment. Invest in a good, powerful PC that can get the job done.
Do not scrimp on the hardware. If you regularly meet with your clients online, buy the best headset and make sure there is enough capacity to handle audio-visual calls.
Working from home will be a definite change of pace. It may take some time to get used to. However, you will soon realize that transitioning to a home-based office was the right move for your business.
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