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Photo by Manny Pantoja on Unsplash

“Homeworkers embody the real American Dream. Not fame or fortune, but being your own boss. Calling your own shots. Taking control of your life, not necessarily to work more–or less–but to work the way you want to work.”
Lionel Fisher

Work-at-home is clearly taking off. More and more businesses as well as employees and entrepreneurs are seeing the time and monetary benefits of working remotely.  From flexible schedules to saving on work related costs both for employees as well as employers, the work-at-home scenario is becoming a viable alternative to working on site. There are many arrangements from part time home and part time office to full out completely working remotely on a full time basis. According to Workopolis  “more than 77,000 people (Canada) have gotten behind the (work-at-home) movement”.

Work-at-home is increasingly being looked at and experimented with, but what do the studies and surveys say?

What the Research Says

According to a 9-month study done by Ctrip , which was recorded in an article entitled ” Does Working from Home Work? Evidence from a Chinese Experiment” ( Bloom & Liang), the following findings were noted concerning work-at-home employees of their company

  • The employees who worked at home were 13.5 percent more efficient than those who worked in the office.

  • Work-at-home employees “reported shorter breaks and fewer sick days and took less time off”.

  • Attrition rates were 50 percent better with the work-at-home employees.

  • CTrip saved “$2,000 per year, per employee in office space”.

     

According to the job-hunting site, Workopolis, the following stats (Canada) were noted.

 

  • 90% of people who work from home say it has made them more productive.

  • Businesses find it easier to keep work-at-home employees.

  • The average Canadian wastes 182 hours and about $3,000 per year on costs related to working away from home.

 

What Are The Advantages?

Schedule Flexibility

Working at home enables the worker or business owner to have more control over his schedule and to be able to work according to his periods of creativity and optimum productivity. Some people work better in the early mornings whereas others are more highly productive in the evenings or even during the night. This option allows workers to adapt as long as they meet their deadlines and set goals. It is an excellent option for people living in geographically isolated locations as well as for those who enjoy travelling and working at the same time such as digital nomads.

 

 

You have to balance your passions, not your time.”     – Lisa Sugar

 

 

The flexibility of the working schedule can adapt to different family situations such as having to care for young children or aging family members. Overall, the work-at-home situation can help people live a more balanced lifestyle.

 

Saves Time and Money

Working from home helps both employers and employees cut back on expenses. For the remote employee, the costs of commuting (as well as any vehicle maintenance) are reduced. There are also savings in the work wardrobe as there is little need to invest much in buying new clothes for work. Meals costs are also reduced since most meals and snacks would be consumed at home (if that is where the “home” office is). Just in coffee alone you could easily save about $45 a month or more.

 

 

“Don’t tell me where your priorities are. Show me where you spend your money and I’ll tell you what they are.” —James W. Frick

 

 

There is also a huge savings in time. The average worker spends about 2 hours commuting to and from work so, over the course of a month, that comes to 40 hours of lost productive time. Meetings can be shortened substantially with Skype calls that focus only on the essentials and not on the usual time wasting that happens during meetings. There is also no wasting of time at the coffee machine during breaks or prolonged discussions with coworkers who interrupt your train of thought. It is also easier to focus and get jobs done in less time thereby freeing you up to move ahead or take a break with the time you have saved.

 

Reduces Stress

The stress of commuting, making lunches, finding appropriate clothing, getting children to school or daycare, and having to deal with unpleasant coworkers or bosses all contribute to an overload of stress often more than we can handle at a time. Sometimes there is no rest as we find ourselves busier and busier trying to get everything done and be where we are supposed to be. The work-at-home option can relieve us of some of this stress, particularly the commuting stress and the having to rush out the door with everything we need every day kind of stress. While there may still be deadlines and jobs to accomplish, we can, to a certain degree, be in charge of how and when we do these.  It is also far easier and less stressful to do our job without having to interact with unpleasant or invasive coworkers.

 

 

“It is not a daily increase, but a daily decrease. Hack away at the inessentials.”
– Bruce Lee

 

 

Because working from home allows us to work at a more flexible schedule which we are in control over (even with set hours) and can work from the comfort of our own home, this removes a lot of the stress we would otherwise have. This reduced stress allows us to be more creative and productive as well as more satisfied and happier with our work and our job.

 

No Office Politics

This one is a huge advantage. Even if the other advantages were not present, this one alone would make working at home worth it. Who wants to deal with all the gossiping, backhandedness, competitiveness, pettiness and all the other unpleasantness of working with other colleagues? Office politics are very often a huge contributing factor to absenteeism, burnouts, depression and anxiety as well as reduced productivity and lack of motivation. Office politics are just drama for the sake of drama. By working at home, you can avoid the drama and squabbling that happens in the workplace and get your work done without unnecessary or unproductive interruptions.

What Does It Take?

 

“The world’s greatest achievers have been those who have always stayed focussed on their goals and have been consistent in their efforts.”
Dr Roopleen

 

 

Organizational Skills

When someone is working solo at home (or wherever the office is), it is crucial to have excellent organizational skills. The work space needs to be kept free of non-work-related clutter and mess. Donut crumbs and coffee mugs all over the place do not make for an organized workspace. In the same way as you would try to keep your work space in a company office clean, it is even more important to do this for a home office. You can’t depend on the night cleanup crew to help you out.

Time management is even more important for the remote worker or home-preneur than in a company office. You still need to schedule your day, meet deadlines and pace yourself. It is important to have visual reminders of goals and deadlines as well as organized lots of priorities and things to do. Finally, your email inbox needs to be organized and efficient to be able to access information easily.

 

The Ability to Work Solo

Working remotely at home can be very isolating. You may feel out of the loop with coworkers or, if you are a home-preneur, you may feel the discouragement of isolation. It is crucial to be able to function alone and also to build in social connections. You do not have to be isolated and alone if you don’t want to, There are many ways that you can build and maintain connections through scheduled chats, webinars and even (yikes!) the phone. You can also schedule face-to-face meetings if you want as well. Anything is possible.  Working solo is a choice and so is feeling isolated.  We are in charge of how we feel and how we connect.

 

The Ability to Focus

Working at home requires an home-preneur or remote employee to have laser focus.  He or she can not let home distractions such as laundry or cleaning or any other house responsibilities get in the way of work to be done.  There can be no compromises in this area. Even if a worker is working from home, this is still, technically his office for a certain period of time during the day. It may mean that he or she will need to begin the day in the same way as an office employee by showering and dressing “for work”. A business mindset and routine can be enough to trick us into thinking that we are now ‘”off to work” even when the office is at home. Maintaining focus will require daily discipline. If it is not tolerated at the office, it should not be tolerated at home.

 

Phenomenal Communication Skills

Working remotely will require you to develop your written communication skills. Not in the way of writing a novel, but in the way of being hyper clear whenever you need to request or communicate information. Since you don’t have the added advantage of face-to-face conversation or being able to slip into a coworkers office for discussion or problem-solving session, your ability to give clear, precise information that does not create misunderstandings now becomes a priority. You will need to adapt to sending short emails rather than long, drawn -out and detailed emails. In this way, there is less likelihood of misunderstanding. You will also need to pay attention to tone and punctuation much more than if you were working in-house and could depend on body language to help you.

Working remotely will also mean that you will need to prioritize written communication and communicate everything even if it does not seem necessary.  It is better to over communicate than to not communicate something that might have been important.

 

Self – Motivation

The ability to self-motivate is very important for the remote employee or home-preneur.  Without the scheduled meetings, lunch hours, breaks and office work hours, the work-from-home worker needs to be able to set his own schedule and stick to it. He needs to self motivate and the best way to do this is by setting daily, weekly and monthly goals to stay on track. He will need to hold himself accountable to meeting his or his employer’s deadlines.  It can be hard to be self-motivated, but setting goals and rewarding yourself for their accomplishment can be a useful tool to get things done. Another tip might be to compete against yourself by setting a goal and seeing if you can beat your record for meeting it.

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Diana Lynne’s passions are family, traveling, learning, and pursuing a debt-free life. She also loves hanging out with family, friends and being with her dog Skye. Diana is a Quebec City girl. who loves living life.  You can connect with her through Livingandstuff.ca

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