Employees Working from Home vs. Office: The Employers Debate

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Employees Working from Home vs. Office: The Employers Debate

By Janette Speyer and Katrina McNeill

Last week Yahoo CEO, Marissa Mayer, had an internal memo leaked of which the basic message was that she would now require all remote workers to report to an office. In an age with so many start-ups, many are working from home to cut costs. So what are the pros and cons to telecommuting?

Telecommuting – The Pros:

1. An incentive to employees

Retaining good people is a constant struggle for any business owner. For some employees, the option of telecommuting enables business owners to maintain staff longer, which is reason enough for offering this time-saving option. A virtual office can be a huge benefit for people who take care of their kids from home, students who need a flexible schedule, people who do not have easy access to transportation, as well as many others.

2. Helps to save on costs

This is the most obvious benefit to telecommuting. Employees save considerable money on gasoline, work attire, and numerous other work-related expenses. Employers also can save too with less office overhead like rental expenses, company lunches, gasoline, and utilities.

3. Avoiding distractions at work

It could be that for some people, like web designers or engineers, could benefit enormously from NOT having coworkers coming up to them while they are trying to focus. The interruptions of questions or bogging them down with meetings can actually hinder productivity. Certain jobs require an extended uninterrupted period of time to focus. Consider offering telecommuting to these folks (even as a trial) as you might see an increase in productivity.

Telecommuting – The Cons:

1. Distractions at home

There are so many distractions in the home. For those with children, boundaries are usually not respected and mom or dad is right there to talk to or annoy for entertainment at all times. Additionally, you never know if they are just watching TV, reading a book, or perhaps sunbathing. You hope you have a trusted hard worker, but you never really know. One helpful solution to this is to issue a company computer, employers are in control of what is allowed as a distraction (at least on the computer) and the work performed is easier to monitor.

2. Daily interactions lost

Small business owners who have their whole team in the office Monday through Friday with no option of working from home, make this choice for many reasons. The main drive in their office only attitude is the benefits of daily interactions. Working side by side with others every day can and does spark business conversation, certainly a lot more than when someone is in another office. This interaction not only gives you the opportunity to learn from your colleagues and bond, it also fosters creativity and the hope of new ideas that could benefit the company.

Weighing your options:

It would be nice if you could look at each employee individually and decide case by case who gets to work from home. A problem arises here when only a select few get to work from home; others may not appreciate that they can’t have the same luxury as their coworkers. As the business owner, you decide if the pros outweigh the cons. If you do choose to have employees work from home, don’t be afraid to implement some processes to ensure they are working (like the office computer). Set up your decision with proper expectations by communicating that it is not necessarily permanent and that if it starts to fail, everyone will be coming back to the office. We would love to hear our reader’s motivations for home vs. office; it’s a hot topic that will certainly have a good variety of opinions!

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  1. Lola Stoney
    March 3rd, 2013 6:50  / 

    Office or home – both have disadvantages and advantages (as outlined in this post)
    All work workers should be given the opportunity to work from home – If a well thought out policy is in place along with suitable (not intrusive) progress monitoring system, this would work out well for both the employee and the employer.

  2. Ciara Hulslander
    April 17th, 2013 0:13  / 

    These days, working at home isn’t just a pipe dream — it’s an economic necessity. The Great Recession forced more than 300,000 stay-at-home moms to return to work. And in a recent retirement poll commissioned by Allstate, nearly 70% of near-retirees said they plan to continue working past age 65. :

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