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Why Employees Want to Work From Home and How to Manage Them

Global remote workers

Telecommuting is becoming as much a requirement as a perk these days. With so many single parent households, dual income families, and less help from extended families, taking off in the middle of the day is sometimes a necessity and making up for the time at home is the only way to put in a full week’s work.

There was a time when more women stayed home with their kids. It was their job to do the shopping, pay the bills, cart the kids to sports, and attend meetings and conferences. There were no conflicts with work because this was their work. The kid’s needs were attended to without any interruptions at dad’s workplace.

Of course, every family wasn’t so idyllic but this arrangement was more the norm then than it is today. Now many parents are taking care of two jobs – the job of caring for the home and children and the job of making a living.

Not only do professionals have to work 8+ hours a day but they have to make breakfast, dress the kids, help with homework, drive the kids to school, clean the house, make and go to appointments, attend meetings and performances – the list goes on.

How do parents fit in a social life, a yoga class, or reading the news? How do they fit in hobbies like music and sports? How do they pick up sick kids from school or attend mid-day school events? For many parents, they don’t. For others, they manage these things by working from home.

Who Works From Home

According to research done by GlobalWorkplaceAnalytics.com, 20-25% of the US workforce teleworks at least some of the time. 80%-90% say they would like to and fortune 1000 companies are accommodating these desires.

“On average, a telecommuter is college-educated, 49 years old, and earns an annual salary of $58,000 while working for a company with more than 100 employees. 75% of employees who work from home earn over $65,000 per year, putting them in the upper 80th percentile of all employees, home or office-based.”

Benefits of Working From Home

The benefits of working from home go beyond just convenience and work-life balance, although, those are some pretty big perks for the employee. The benefits also include higher productivity and a greater sense of well being. Healthier, happier, more productive employees are good for business too.

Eliminates the commute

Cutting out the commute can buy a worker an hour or two, which is enough time for hobbies, education, and family time. The extra minutes could mean getting outside for a bike ride, taking music lessons, or going to the park with the kids.

Allows for making up personal time off

The ability to make up an hour of missed day-time-work at dawn or after the kids go to bed allows parents to take off for a midday event like a school meeting or concert.

Fewer distractions

Aside from having a private office, most office environments can be really distracting. People may stop to chat or ask questions. The many noises in office buildings, like the sound of people talking, can make it really hard to concentrate. Being at home, alone, eliminates a lot of the productivity hurdles that people face in a traditional office setting.

Custom work environment

Everybody’s different, and so is everyone’s ideal work environment. In the typical office, an employee may have a hard time concentrating with the light music her cubicle neighbor plays, she may be going mad from the silence, or she may be cold from the building’s air conditioning. She may prefer drinking tea all day or eating snacks frequently. Working from home gives a worker the opportunity to customize her own work environment so that she is comfortable and best able to concentrate.

Better Management Means Better Productivity

Many managers don’t approve of work from home situations because they think their employees aren’t working when they work at home. They don’t feel in control if they can’t see employees physically sitting at their desks. Loss of control makes them distrustful and frustrated. But if you think about it, this reaction is little more than bad management. A manager is fooling himself if he thinks an employee is being productive just because she’s sitting at her desk in front of him.

Establish goals

Managing employees successfully involves establishing set goals for employees. Unless it is part of the employee’s job to manage herself and her own projects, a manager needs to give her work and deadlines. If she is getting her work done, she’s working. It’s pretty clear, regardless of her location, that she is being productive when her work is done.

Track time on projects

For a little more visibility into the employee’s work day, the remote employee can track her time against the specific things she works on. She might track her time in meetings, on the phone, writing reports, etc. Tracking time for analysis can be both a relief for the manager and useful for analyzing how time is spent. Time tracking is a great tool for prioritizing.

Document work done

Taking notes on an employee’s daily work is a clear view inside an employee’s workday. What was she working on? Just read her daily notes. Does completion of projects correspond with these notes? If it does, you’ve probably got yourself a productive home worker.

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