Working from home is a dream come true for many workers. With advances in technology, working from home is now a reality for many Australians. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, almost a third of employed Australians regularly work from home. The ability to work from home, and employers’ acceptance of the practice, is a shift in the way we work and view work-life balance. Working from home can have huge benefits for employees, employers, society, the economy and the environment, but it’s not without downsides.
What is working from home?
‘Working from home’ doesn’t mean that a worker is specifically required to work from their home. Rather this broader term refers to the flexibility of employees to work from any location outside a dedicated workplace either full-time, part-time or on a flexible basis. An employee may choose to work from their home, but they may also work from a cafe, on the train, at the local library or at a co-working office. With the use of laptops and easy access to the internet, work can be done from almost anywhere.
Why work from home?
Aside from the stereotypical picture of a worker sitting in bed with their laptop, working from home has a seriously long list of perks.
Cut the commute
Research by Deloitte showed that the average one-way commute for Sydneysiders was 37.5 minutes, that’s 6.25 hours per week! Can you imagine what you would do with a spare 6.25 hours? Working from home allows workers to cut out increasingly lengthy and expensive commutes, saving them time and money.
When a proportion of workers work from home it can also ease burdens on strained infrastructure which leads to a happier commute for all those still making their way to a workplace.
Aside from the benefits of a non-existent commute, working from home can help workers to achieve a work-life balance. For example, parents can be home when their kids get home from school. Employees with a work-life balance are happier, healthier, less stressed and often more engaged with their work.
Increase productivity and minimise costs
There are countless studies and reports that show working from home can actually increase an employee’s productivity. A work from home program can also help a business to reduce office space, while the appeal of working from home can help a business to recruit and retain employees, all of which can save a business thousands of dollars each year.
It’s not just employees and their employers who benefit. Society as a whole, benefits from happy and healthy employees. Increased productivity improves the entire economy, while the ability to work from home allows more workers to remain in or enter the workforce. By minimising office spaces and reducing the number of commuters each day, working from home can reduce pollution and carbon emissions.
What are the downsides?
Working from home isn’t for everyone. Those who work from home often report feelings of loneliness and isolation. The distractions of a home environment can also be detrimental to some employee’s productivity.
Is working from home a good idea for you?
The nature of your work will often dictate if working from home is a good idea. There are some occupations where working from home just isn’t possible. Working from home should balance the needs of an employer with the needs of the employee and the effectiveness of working from home should be measured by outcomes. We suggest a working from home trial period. At the end of your trial period ask yourself or have a manager evaluate whether you are delivering results. If the answer is ‘yes’ then working from home might be just the shift you need.