New Mexico is all about breathing room. We like to live and work at our own pace out here, so it’s no wonder 4.7% of our workforce likes to get the job done from the comfort of their own home (or wherever else the mood takes them). There are quite a few benefits to telecommuting, and we’ve got the stats to prove it.
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1. Increased Productivity
The assumption tends to be that, if left to their own devices, employees will simply lounge around the house watching TV and never get anything done without the rigid structure of an office environment. A Stanford study shows the opposite to be true. Working from home actually tends to make you more productive. The study involved five hundred employees split into two groups: one at HQ, and one at home. The group that telecommuted hit the same work goals at a far lower expense of time and resources.
The difference owes to a number of factors. One is that your work-time is all work. There’s no 30-minute drive to the office, no walking up and down stairs to grab some files you missed, and no leaving early to beat traffic. Secondly, it’s just easier to focus when you’re in your own environment than sharing an office with a dozen other people and phones constantly ringing off the hook. Increased productivity is also cyclical with some other points we’ll get into below, like improved health.
2. Improved Morale
The American Psychological Association reports a number of benefits to an employee’s mood and their attitude toward the job when they are able to work from home. More precisely, they argue that working from home can “reduce stress” and “enhance motivation and growth.” This comes down to being in control of your surroundings.
If you think about it, nobody who works from home ever felt that they should have got the corner office. Their office can be any room in the house they like. When you’re in an environment that you are not in control of, half of your attention is devoted to managing the stressors of that environment, and you can start to resent even a very good job over having to put up with that on a daily basis.
3. Better Work/Life Balance
If you ask us, this is the most important point on the list, or at least, it is if you live in Santa Fe. There’s something going on every week here, like the Fiestas de Santa Fe. Ten straight days of food, dancing and art in the streets. Or the Golondrinas Harvest Festival at El Rancho de las Golondrinas. Santa Fe loves its street festivals, and you don’t want to miss out on them because you’re stuck in the office all day.
Or maybe you just want to cut out in the middle of the day for a long bike ride or some catch-and-release out on the lake. Whatever it is, Santa Fe is full of excuses to get out of the house, and with a telecommuting job, you’re free to come and go at your leisure.
A study done by the International Workplace Group shows that the flexibility of telecommuting helps to create better work-life balance. In Workspace Revolution: Reaching the Tipping Point, over 80% of employees reported that working from home has made both their home and work lives better. Telecommuting allows them to build a daily schedule that fits their personal and family needs, as well as their obligations to the job.
4. Better Employee Retention
That Stanford study shows that companies offering telecommuting options have 50% higher employee retention. Think of how many jobs you’ve had to turn down or quit because the distance was too far to drive, because the schedule conflicted with other obligations, or because you couldn’t find any good homes in the area. None of that is a concern with telecommuting. The only thing that matters when deciding whether to keep a telecommuting job: Do you like the job?
When you telecommute, all of those other complications are non-issues. You don’t even need to get along with your co-workers.
5. It’s Better for the Environment
This is especially important in Santa Fe. The wide-open layout of this town is beautiful. The buildings don’t crowd you in or block the natural scenic beauty. But that layout also means that you’re not likely to find a job within walking distance. The mean commute time in Santa Fe County is around 22 minutes. So for a Santa Fe telecommuter, this means, on average, 22 fewer minutes burning fossil fuels. And of course, this translates into 22 more minutes to yourself if you want to really savor your coffee or start your day with a quick walk before starting your work day. Many homes for sale in Santa Fe are within walking distance of a trailhead, park, or green space. It’s not unusual for a homeowner to squeeze in a morning bike ride before work.
6. It’s Better for Your Health
Have you ever been just sick enough that you go to work anyway? Most of us have. And what happens, every single time? Going to work just makes matters worse. You should be staying at home with a cup of tea and a bowl of soup, but you’re at the office under the fluorescent lights, probably spreading your cold to other people (which may be how you caught it in the first place).
But it’s more than just catching colds. The American Psychological Association reports that people who have control over their own schedule tend to be healthier in general.
If you get to decide where and when you’re going to be working, you can make healthier meals at home and you can exercise whenever you like. In a conventional office you can’t always jump out of your seat and take a walk around the block to keep your blood flowing. At home, who’s going to stop you? The APA also reports that the lower stress of working from home contributes tremendously to personal health.
7. Decreased Employee Turnover
The number will vary depending on position and industry, but according to the Society of Human Resource Management, the average cost to restaff a position is around $4,000. And that’s not to restaff an office, that’s per employee. A company with just 100 employees then would have to spend close to half a million dollars to re-hire if everyone just decided to up and quit one day.
This is probably why more and more companies are offering telecommuting options. When employees can work from home, companies tend to retain their high-value personnel for much longer than with a conventional, rigidly-structured work schedule.
The Future of the Workplace
Much of the common wisdom surrounding telecommuting suggests that it’d be preferable for the employee, but would drive productivity down and hurt the company in the long run. As it turns out, if your job can be performed from home, it works out better for everyone, from employer to employee to customer. It helps the environment, it helps the company, and it helps you.
And it means you can unplug your laptop and finish up your assignment at Iconik Coffee Roasters any time you feel like getting out of the house.