To be, or not to be (allowed to work from home) that is the question

Work-from-HomeYou’ve probably seen the headlines lately (like this one posted in the LA Times on 3/6/2013) about some big companies making the decision not to allow their employees to telecommute any more – specifically, Yahoo and Best Buy.

Has this influenced your own business on similar policies?  We want to talk about the reasons why working from home (W.F.H.) can still be a great option, which remains exceptionally simple with today’s cloud technology.

(1) In an increasingly busy world, it can be a major challenge to work a standard 9-5 workday

Things as simple as having the flexibility to drop off and pick up your kids from school can be hugely important in trying to maintain a work/family balance. If both parents are working (which is often the case) in a traditional job setting, the amount of hands-on time at specific times relating to children’s schedules is reduced.

It also makes an employee’s life a little easier for scheduling appointments when they work from home. If they need to schedule doctor appointments, for example, or are in need of a professional service to their house for something (e.g., a plumber or appliance repairperson), they are able to work around that by adding hours later in the evening or after they’ve put their kids to bed.

(2) Reversing a decision to allow employees to W.F.H will increase expenses to the employee

Let’s face it – the commute is significantly farther if an employee needs to work from the corporate office rather than from home. This Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article cites the specific relevance in our home market: traffic congestion in 2011 cost the average commuter $818 in wasted time and fuel. Pittsburgh commuters were slightly above the national average, with $826 in losses for the year.

An additional consideration in terms of cost to employees, is the added costs of child care. Most employers don’t offer free child care as a benefit. Particularly in cases where a child is sick and can’t be cared for in a traditional day care setting, there’s a higher cost associated with finding someone to watch your child(ren).

(3) It can save the company money

Working from home by using cloud technology can save a company a lot of money on IT costs over time. We show in this blog post how that can look from the company’s perspective vis-a-vis cost. There’s also the savings that comes from not needing to maintain work facilities in terms of rent/mortgage, utilities, maintenance and upkeep, etc. Lower real estate costs means lower overhead expenses.

(4) It can reduce your carbon footprint

If you’re concerned about the environment, there is a huge advantage to having employees working from home in that eliminating the need to drive to another location cuts the total emissions from any vehicles. Each year, the Texas A&M Transportation Institute does a study of traffic patterns, analyzing everything from the time necessary to get from point A to point B to how much gas is wasted while sitting in commuter traffic, and beyond.

This Wikipedia article about telecommuting includes a large variety of potential benefits as well as potential disadvantages. But we’d like to throw this line in here to wrap things up in a neat little package: “Half-time telecommuting by those with compatible jobs (40%) and a desire to do so (79%) would save companies, communities, and employees over $650 billion a year—the result of increased productivity, reduced office expense, lower absenteeism and turnover, reduced travel, less road repairs, less gas consumption, and other savings.”

So – is it to be? Or not to be?

While we do realize that there can definitely be benefits to working in an office environment where direct contact and interaction with team members is feasible and encouraged, there are also distinct benefits to allowing employees to work from the comfort of their own homes. What are some other benefits you can think of that your company or employees might get from the telecommuting arrangement by way of cloud computing technology?