Thanks to ever-advancing technologies, businesses are increasingly able to offer their staff flexible working options. Some have even gone as far as to embrace the working from home concept – or ‘teleworking’ as it is becoming known. Here’s a look at how offering employees the opportunity to work from home can offer considerable benefits for both parties.
1. Increased productivity
If properly selected, monitored and trained people who work from home will be as productive, if not more productive, than staff who work in an office environment. There is a big misconception that people who work from home are skylarking and are doing anything but working. In my experience, this simply is not the case. At Aegis, we have been allowing employees to work from home for three years and it is now a normal part of our business. Their output is excellent and in our industry it is something that we can monitor closely and compare when necessary.
Some teleworkers might split their time by working two or three days each week at home and spending the rest of their working week at the office. Others might work exclusively at home, only travelling into the office for activities such as team briefings and team building exercises.
By offering staff the option to work from home, they are also offered increased flexibility in terms of the hours they work. They are not constrained by office opening and closing times.
3. More ‘me time’
A lot of companies talk about providing their employees with a work/life balance. Offering ‘telework’ as an option enables them to do this in a meaningful way. The big advantage for workers is that they don’t have to commute to work. A return trip between, for instance, the Mornington Peninsula and Melbourne’s CBD can take more than three hours every day. Working from home can therefore save some employees more than 15 hours every week – time they can spend with their families, getting work done around the house or simply relaxing and concentrating on their leisure activities and hobbies.
4. Financial savings
Travelling to and from the office can result in considerable costs. These costs could include petrol, parking or train tickets. People who work from home are therefore often making substantial yearly financial savings by doing so. They could also save on the costs of office clothing and buying their lunch every day.
5. Reduced carbon footprint
Decreased travel also offers both the employee and the company for which they work the opportunity to decrease their carbon footprint, due to the decreased emissions associated with the transport that is no longer being used.
6. Reduced congestion and overcrowding
If all companies built an element of teleworking into their business, congestion on the roads and overcrowding on public transport would be dramatically reduced.
7. Increased retention rate
All positive effects on the employee have a knock on effect for the company in that happy employees means increased retention. This is a particularly pertinent benefit for industries that experience high staff turnover.
8. Equal opportunities
Teleworking opens up work opportunities for people with a disability. For example, one of our employees developed a sensitivity to light and telework offered the ideal solution allowing her to stay in the workforce.
It also opens up the potential opportunities to utilise workers in regional areas. This is great for all companies, because it opens up an otherwise inaccessible pool of skilled people. It is equally as beneficial for the communities where those workers live. I foresee that this will be a massive growth area once the National Broadband Network (NBN) becomes more widespread.
Another group that benefits by working from home is retirees who still wanted to work two or three days a week, perhaps because they needed the additional financial security or simply want to stay active in the workforce.
Of course, there are circumstances under which working from home is not the correct option. It probably isn’t the right solution for those individuals who are extroverted. Some people thrive in an office environment just as some thrive with the peace and quiet of being at home. Reduced communication with colleagues, missing out on taking part in office parties and functions and generally losing that ‘social aspect’ of being office based are all disadvantages that may be associated with working from home.
Aegis is a major supporter of the Australian Government’s National Telework Week which will be held from 12 to 16 November. It is being run by the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy.