5 Advantages of Telecommuting
Telecommuting has more advantages than disadvantages.
I had been working from home (WFH) for 9 months by the time the world was starting to practice social distancing. If you consider the cheaper overhead and increased talent pool, it's clear that telecommuting has many advantages for employers. There's just one problem:
...honestly, I don't care if my employer is saving money. I need to know what's in it for me.
Change leads to uncertainty. Even when that change is good, that uncertainty can lead to resistance. But there is nothing to fear, working from home is great for employees.
Here are 5 advantages of telecommuting:
- Focused Productivity
- More Opportunities
- Safer For Underrepresented People
- You Can Work From Anywhere
Let's explore each one in more detail.
Is the average workday really 8 hours a day?
...Are you sure?
No, not if you're honest with yourself! Many employees are productive for less than 3 hours a day on average, with many of the distractions coming from their own coworkers.
Believe it or not, I actually found it eaiser to stay productive when I started telecommuting. There are fewer opportunities for distractions, such as "water cooler chat." As a result, I am able to complete my work much quicker. That's a big deal if your employer values the quality of your work over the quantity. And that's not all.
You know those meetings that probably could have just been emails? Well, now they can be! An underappreciated advantage is that written communication is used more in telecommuting environments.
What would you do with your extra time if you had less meetings and finished work quicker? Tweet me @leovolving to let me know!
The flexibility alone is worth telecommuting.
If you work from home, you will probably find that you don’t have to take time off of work to run important errands. It's much easier to do things like lunch-time workouts from home than an office, or trying to fit them in after business hours.
Believe it or not, the flexibility of working from home even improved my social life!
The decrease in social contact at work motivated me to make more efforts to see my friends and family when I'm not working (albeit virtually for now). I'm left with a stronger desire for human interaction at the end of the day because I haven’t spent that energy on idle break room conversations.
It’s true that some days can be a little boring and quiet - but that can happen in an office too! It’s important not to let a couple of bad days detract from the overall advantage of telecommuting.
I mentioned earlier that increasing the talent pool is an advantage for employers. But don't worry, it's a mutually beneficial advantage.
I ended up working for a company based in Nashville, Tenessee while living in Los Angeles. Had this company only been looking for local candidates, I would have never had the opportunity to be considered for this job. If you're unable to relocate, you're stuck with whatever jobs are available in your city, unless you telecommute. It's hard for some people to be sympathetic towards someone whose city already has a large concentration of tech jobs (like me in Los Angeles) but that's exactly my point!
Only a small handful of American cities have seen growth in new tech jobs.
Many Americans are missing out on opportunities every single day. Telecommuting evens the playing field and progresses us one step closer to truly equal opportunity in America. Allowing employer to live anywhere will help make companies more diverse, which brings me to my next point.
I'm black, transgender, and biracial. I almost had to quit the industry.
Don't get me wrong, I have worked with a lot of great people, but I've also had experiences so toxic that I had to recover from physical and psychological damage. In any given work space, I can never be certain if I'm being judged for something other than my work. If that ever does happen though, I know that I'll be monitored excessively.
It's impossible to do your best work when you're constantly worried about discrimination and hostility.
Another important point to consider is that the risk of discrimination is compounded with each marginalized community to which a person belongs. For example, a disabled person of color (POC) is more likely to experience discrimination than me as an able-bodied POC. This is commonly referred to as intersectionality.
One of the most important advantages of telecommuting is the decreased risk of workplace discrimination. Anyone who's experienced it knows what a game-changer this is.
Telecommuting drastically reduces the amount of time that coworkers must interact with each other which means that employees are empowered to do their best work in an environment that is healthy for them. Fun Fact: Employees are more qualified than their employer to determine what is a healthy environment for them, which brings me to the final advantage of telecommuting.
Ultimately, telecommuting is usually cheaper for employers and employees alike.
If you are hired for a telecommuting position, employers must provide you with computers, monitors, keyboards, and other home office equipment that is necessary for your job. Where you decide to set up that office is entirely up to you, and it can change as your needs do.
However, no one said that you have to be at home when you work from home.
Because I'm able to stretch out my vacation days, I take more vacations while telecommuting. When I travel, I always try to work a few days from my hotel room to save a couple of vacation days. When my work day ends, I can head out to do some exploring. There are also "digital nomads" who work while spending most of their time traveling.
Where would you go with more vacation time?! Tweet me @leovolving to let me know!
But what if you don't want work at home or on the road?
If you're worried that you may need more separation between work and home, don't. Employers can provide stipends for telecommuters to use for coworking spaces, which are a nice alternative to the high cost of leasing office space. You can also look into tax write-offs for any out-of-pocket expenses that accumulate for your home office (including rent/mortgage and utilities).
...You'll need to ask an accountant if you have questions about that last one. Taxes are hard!
As you can see, I'm a huge proponent of telecommuting.
The world has changed around us. The 40-hour workweek was once considered to be a fair balance between work and leisure for employees. I’d argue that it’s time to re-evaluate that equation and allow technology to do what it was built to do: improve the lives of humankind.
Are there other advantages to telecommuting that I missed? Tweet me @leovolving and let me know. Thanks for reading!
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About the Author: Leo Yockey
Techie, Writer, and Speaker from Los Angeles. Advocate for underrepresented technologists. Hobbies include reading, PS4, and spending time with my girlfriend and cat. If you like what you see here, you may want to join me on Twitter.