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Working from Home: Good or Bad?
11-04-2012, 10:04 AM
Post: #1
Working from Home: Good or Bad?
A recent survey conducted by the Census Bureau of America reveals that the number of Americans working from home has increased by 41% in the last decade. The number of people who work at home at least one day per week increased to 9.5% of all workers in 2010, up from 7% in 1999. The largest jump was among government workers, a 133% increase, while the private sector showed a 67% rise.

These numbers are pretty remarkable, and they represent a new phenomenon in the US economy. Private companies, federal government workers, and small-business owners are coming to the realization that working from home can save them a lot of money. The costs of office space, car expenses, communication, and electricity are all reduced when working from home. But working from home is not all good. The main problem with it is that it may lead to reduced productivity. For some, the combination of family and work in the same space means neither one gets the attention it deserves. I wanted to explore the pros and cons of working from home in a deeper way. Let’s first start with the positive.

Pros: First, small-business owners typically don’t, and sometimes can’t, take a break from their business, and are working from home after hours anyway. Therefore, having their office at home makes the most sense. Having your office in your home saves you from paying double on every office-related expense, such as rent, electricity, Internet, office supplies, etc. Also, not having to drive back and forth saves you money on gas and other car expenses and also helps the environment.

Second, working from home allows you to balance work and family more easily. It allows you to respond to problems that arise in your work and home with greater flexibility. If you do it right, the juggling act of these two main roles becomes much easier. From a different angle, if you decide to employ remote employees, giving them the liberty to work from home can enlarge your applicant pool. Also, for many, a flexible lifestyle may be more important than a high salary.

Cons: For some, working from home is just impossible. Sometimes you need equipment that cannot physically be in your home. In other cases, your business requires a lot of meetings with clients and business partners, and conducting them in your living room might not look presentable.

Also, your home might not be suitable to work from. Even though working and living in the same space can make it easier to balance the two, your home life might become a distraction. Business owners who work from home first need to assess if they could make the adjustments needed so they could engage in their work and their family fully yet separately. If you share office space or have employees working for you, you might miss having face-to-face interaction with them. Working from home requires work relationships to be more structured and takes away from the spontaneous communication enabled by working in the same space.

Of course, working from home requires some logistics, but at the end of the day deciding whether to work from home or not is a decision that should be based on individual abilities and situations. Only you know if you have what it takes to succeed as a home-based business owner: are you self-motivating? Do you have the space needed? Can you really balance work and life? These questions and many more should be considered before making this decision.
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11-05-2012, 11:42 AM
Post: #2
RE: Working from Home: Good or Bad?
There is probably a "depends on what you are trying to do" part of this question. There are many benefits to working remotely in today's workplaces. Cost of facilities, travel, commuting, etc are reduced. On the other hand, as an economist might say, the ability to interact with people is diminished. Now is that good or bad? As someone said the speed of light is much faster than the speed of sound. That is why a person may look smart until they open their mouths. Just a little humor to keep you engaged.

Remote working dampens ones ability to speak. We think in short sentences - we don't have to type or text as much. The "ya know" index is increasing daily. How can we understand somewhat complex concepts without being able to express them - verbally?

If I can't explain it, how will someone else ever understand it? With that said, can HAL be far behind??

Posted by Ben Boldt
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11-05-2012, 04:39 PM
Post: #3
RE: Working from Home: Good or Bad?
LinkedIn Groups
Group: Future Trends
Discussion: Working from Home: Good or Bad?
This finding is no surprise. For any national organisation with field staff working in multiple locations, my personal view is that all senior management should be offered mobile contracts and flexible hours. This works extremely well provided the organisation cites the closest office as the base for the purposes of expense payments and undertakes a workplace assessment of the home environment. I find it incredibly narrowminded of any organisation to continue to require people to travel to a specified location on a daily basis when the operational reality necessitates a different approach. Even more ridiculous is any organisation that refuses to take on staff who live a significnat distance away from the principal office because of a misconception that they need to be there sitting behind a desk 5 days a week...what a waste of talent. I am yet to encounter a situation when a good manager with sound leadership qualities cant perform well in a mobile environment provided they spend a reasonable amount of face to face time with their direct reports and engage appropriately in management meetings which may or may not be at the Head Office. A bedding in period for a couple of months may well be appropriate for a new manager to establish himself / herself but that should suffice.

Recruitment consultants should take the lead on this issue and advise their clients accordingly. They have a duty to do so and will inevitably procure a better pool of candidates. It simply makes good business sense all round.

Mark Atkinson , VCSchange

Posted by Mark Atkinson
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11-05-2012, 06:54 PM
Post: #4
RE: Working from Home: Good or Bad?
I enjoyed reading this article, primarily because I have been "working from home" since 1999 in the UK until 2006, when I took off to sail around the world on my small yacht. Since then I have been "working aboard" running my telemarketing business internationally. It works well for me and for my clients as they get a good job done at a fair and reasonable price, because my overheads are fairly low. I have found that the work/home balance is fine once your partner and friends understand that you are working. Also I have to make my self stop working! I do find that it is very easy to start work earlier and finish later than when working in an office, so discipline is crucial. I actually believe that each hour I work is far more productive when working from home as I am not interrupted by the "desk passing traffic".

I also find it incredible that businesses are not more flexible in their working modes and habits and not encouraging more people to work from home, especially as it is much more environmentally friendly, incidentally, my power for running laptop and charging mobile phones is done with both solar and wind power, occasionally resorting to small petrol generator!

Thanks for the article.

Posted by Gillie Davies
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11-11-2012, 09:00 PM
Post: #5
RE: Working from Home: Good or Bad?
Always good to see a Peter Cook fan about the place!

Now that I am self-employed I work chiefly from home, although I do have the use of an office if I need one. Typically this is for meetings, or perhaps when the school holidays are in full swing and I need to get out of the house!

When I was employed, I used to work at home as and when I needed to get something finished. The lack of distraction was very useful, as I had one of those jobs where the day would derail quite rapidly on occasions as various issues demanded attention. It was difficult, therefore, to guarantee that I could concentrate on specific tasks, so it was easier just not to go in. It is odd how people seem to be able to survive if you aren't there, yet if you are available it is absolutely critical that you attend to their problem without delay!

I think it will become more common for people to work in a more virtual environment in the future. Project teams can be assembled for a specific task, and disbanded when it is delivered - no fixed costs, no overheads, and the flexibility to react to the demands of the project. Why would you do it differently?

Posted by David Hardstaff
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