By Margaret Hansen
Whether you're at home, in an airport or under the Tuscan sun with a laptop, telecommuting has not only skyrocketed into possibility, its potential for growth is enormous.
According to a recent study [PDF] by the Telework Research Network (TRN), 45 percent of the U.S. workforce holds a job that is compatible with at least part-time telework, yet only 2.3 percent of the workforce considers home their primary place of work - a sizable gap.
According to Telework 2011: A WorldatWork Special Report [PDF], while most companies offer telework options (37 percent formally, 60 percent informally depending on department/manager), only 28 percent announce the telework benefit to new recruits, which might partially explain the gap in the number of potential vs. actual telecommuters: workers just aren't aware of this offering.
Is It Right for You?
Some other WorldatWork trends about telecommuters:
- Nearly half telecommute almost every day
- They consist of slightly more men (56 percent) than women (44 percent)
- Their median age is 40
- 44 percent are college grads
Tasks That Can Be Remote
According to the TRN, more than 70 percent of the work-at-home population holds management, professional, sales, and office jobs. The USG list, although not all-inclusive, includes tasks that could be performed away from a central office:
- Batch work
- Data entry
- Design work
- Field visits
- Project management
- Record keeping
- Word processing
If your job or skill set includes some of these tasks in addition to others that require your physical presence in a company office, perhaps a part-time telecommute option would work well.
What's in It for Companies?
The WorldatWork study, in conjunction with Dieringer Research Group, Inc., noted that employers like to offer remote work options because they:
- Support business continuity strategy
- Reduce real estate costs
- Attract talent from wider labor pools
- Improve employee engagement/satisfaction/retention
- Are seen as a benefit or reward, as opposed to a "right"
Telework can also be used by companies to tap into disabled candidate pools.
Whether you're wishing to decrease your carbon footprint, balance personal responsibilities with work or just work more productively with fewer interruptions, there seems to be a growing interest in telecommuting.
More Pros and Cons from Our Social Media Friends
Yes. I would like to work from home. I get to spend time with my daughter. Costs go down such as gas, eating lunch out, and tolls.
- Amanda, ME
I do work from home. It's good in many ways, but you have to be able to stay focused.
- Elizabeth, ME
I would gladly work from home.
- Gerald, ME
Yes, I have always wanted to work from home but I don't have the capital to even think of working from home.
- Delbert, ME
Absolutely, I love the idea of being having to manage your time wisely, as well as still staying profitable but not commuting, depending in the job, the idea of setting up meetings and basing them around your schedule, and maintaining a more beneficial home life. If there are any great jobs out there that allow this, send them my way!
- Chris, ME
If there was a legitimate opportunity to work from home, I would take it to allow me more time with my child when he or she is born next year.
- Robert, ME
I'd prefer a co-working space.
- Chris, ME
I work from home through my Maine employer. I love my job but we have one vehicle and my children are very active in extracurricular activities, so it makes it difficult for my husband. There are definite pros and cons to working from home. I miss my fellow coworkers a lot. Definitely glad when I have to come onsite for a meeting or training.
- Melissa, ME
Would love to work from home so that could also spend more time with my daughter, but I have no idea what I could do...no skills for at home work, and no money for school to get those skills. Maybe someday... sigh!"
- Stephanie, ME
Would love to work from home! The happy medium would be to work three days at home and two in the office.
- Pamela, ME
Yes, I would be able to care for my sick cat.
- Robert, NH
I would love to if I was able to find one that was legit. It actually would save me money. No travel cost, no clothing expenses. And i could get more done due to the fact I would not have travel time. Bad weather - I could still work. I really can't find a down side.
- Gayl, NH
I would love to.
- Cheryl, NH
If there was a job legitimately enough to work 100% from home and still get paid what I make now, it would be great!! No child care issues, no transportation costs....and I find I get more done at home also!
- Lisa, NH
Would love to! I work from home one day a week now and get so much more accomplished!
- Hope, NH
I worked from home for 12 years, going into the office once a week. I was so much more productive at home!
- Jen, NH
Of course...especially with gasoline prices these days!
- Thea, NH
I telecommuted for 11 years straight. I WANT to go to the office.
- Jeffrey, NH
I would love to do that. I think it would save on gas and buying new clothes to work in. I wouldn't know which companies to trust and which ones not to trust. I have no experience in working online for any company.
- Carol, NH
I would... I hate traffic... and morons...
- Jan, NH
I have been working at home for 5+ years-as of lately. The economy is bad-contracts and work orders are shrinking. I haven't had any work for a few weeks and unemployment only pays out about $100.00 a week, which will go down because I made LESS last year. How do you support your kids on about $50.00 a week??
- Katherine, NH
If I was guaranteed steady income, I would do it.
- Aldina, VT
I would prefer not to. The interaction I would miss. A lot of distractions at home: chores etc.
- Wendy, VT
Yes. For many reasons including: cheaper on the high gas prices, more comfortable of an environment, etc.
- Jennifer, RI
There are pluses and minuses to it. I did it for about three years. It was great for the commute and wear and tear on the vehicle. It allowed me to not have to put our son in day care (another HUGE savings) and lunch was cheaper. But you lose some adult interaction and there are more distractions at home: TV, radio, etc. If I could do it again, I would.
- Michael, RI
Yes I would...It's hard to get daycare, so I can do my Union Construction Job... No one is up at 4:30 am to drop him off to.
- Jason, RI
I would because it would be less wear and tear on my vehicle, including gas. Also because of child care issues!
- Lisa, RI
I've done it before and it was great. Still in the same job but it's not as exciting as before and I feel totally distracted. Also, more and more stuff needs to be done at the office so it's harder to do at home. If I had a work at home position that was exciting to keep me interested and focused, I would love it. Otherwise, way too many distractions.
- Cathy, RI
Yes. In general I can get more done in less time on the days I work from home. Still need team days in office, maybe 1 day/week.
Second Tweet: Commuting sucks the life out of me - I start fresh and work longer from home.
I would like to work at home. Gd for ecosys, cheap on gas, flex hrs. +�I�have hard/software to do it.
As a graphic designer, I can work anywhere as I share my work electronically regardless of location.
Great question.......Since I have never experienced working from home, I can only give my opinion based on other people that I know. I do not believe that I would prefer to work at home unless it was the ideal setup.
I worked out of my home for over six years and it was great, especially in the winter when the driving conditions are poor.
With video technology and the cost of fuel, more companies are going to move to a home-based platform. Here you will have the best of both worlds. I have a low cost easy to use solution.
It's a toss-up for me. I used to think that my work HAD to be done in a separate location, especially if the work required interaction with people who were working at or near that location. And there ARE jobs where the company wants you working in a specific place, even if you deal face-to-face with people (which you could do at home). But, there were times I had to bring some of my work home anyway, just to get it done without distractions. The other benefit of working in a separate location is the benefit of working with other people, whose expertise you can tap when you aren't sure of what you are doing. Recently, I've been considering launching a business. That business could be run out of my home, at least initially. It would require more discipline on my part. But I've begun to think I have the discipline to handle it. [And, as a friend once told me, you MUST have self-discipline to work at home, whether you work for yourself or for a company.] You don't have other people around you when you work at home (unless you have a big home office and a staff for it). But you can always tap into other people in that business by phone. It's a little harder, but you can do it. A lot depends on what the job or business requires. I could go either way at this point. If I could do most of my work at home, I might actually be more productive - depending on the type of work I'd be doing. But I also commuted for many years between Boston and RI, and those were good working years too.
I'll second Roger's comments - especially as it relates to discipline and scheduling one's calendar to maximize productivity. I recommend to clients who are considering working from home that they understand themselves, their home's physical space and their family dynamics very well and study how all will interact for a successful work environment. It is one thing to work from home occasionally and quite another to work from home every day. If you are working for an organization, you also need to understand your organization's dynamics. Will you get the opportunities and visibility to keep your career healthy? Are you considered "privileged" to work from home or is it part of your organization's culture to have employees work from home?
I changed jobs over a year ago and went from working in an office environment for the last 20 years to working from home. If I had my choice, I would go back to the office. I miss having someone to bounce ideas off of.
There are less interruptions working from home but I value the personal contact from working in an office that you don't get working remotely.