Why Can’t We All Work from Home?

Stephanie Brooks mulls over the question in a guest post….

An education blogger from more than six years, Stephanie Brooks believes she has perfected her online universities guide which provides the most comprehensive and accurate information about online colleges in the nation. When she’s not researching about the best schools in the country, she can be found playing with her pet parrot or whipping up some delicious food in the kitchen. She welcomes your comments.

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Within the past decade or so, working from home positions have flourished. As internet technology and mobile devices become more advanced and more mainstream, working from home became doable for most anyone. While at one time working online was considered a luxury, today online work is expected in some industries. As more and more jobs flock to the online realm, the world of office-necessary work has begun to shrink. Many smaller businesses and mostly web-based jobs have entire work forces working from their homes. For the individual, at-home work cuts the costs of travel on the pocketbook and for the environment. Businesses can save money having workers complete their days at home by eliminating the cost of maintaining an office. Employees use their own equipment (computers, paper, etc.) and maintain their own workspace, making costs for the business to lessen overall. That being said, at-home positions are not possible for all sectors of business. Tech jobs and highly individualized positions can function successfully at-home, but this is not the case across the board.

Recent research has been put forth suggesting that output from at-home employees is higher than in-office employees. It’s not hard to see why this is the case for certain positions. For anyone who has actually spent time working a day from home, you’ll likely agree that you are able to finish projects more quickly than you would in the office. While working from home, you have the ability to work in your own environment, at your own pace throughout your work day, and without the added distraction of coworkers. For many (certainly not all), sitting down and working at home encourages more focus than sitting in an office environment does. While this is somewhat individualized, it shows to be the case the majority of the time. Many at-home workers will find ways to distract themselves, but because they can do so in their own ways, they are more successful with completely their work.

So why not send all employees home to complete their work? That is the question, isn’t it? The simple fact is that not all jobs are suitable for an at-home environment as a recent BBC News article points out.

Home working doesn’t suit all jobs or sectors. There are some sectors of the UK economy where teleworking is impossible – retailers, manufacturers and City traders are among those where most people have to be at the workplace. In theory, call centres could allow staff to work from home. In practice, the cost of linking secure databases to thousands of houses stands as a considerable obstacle.

There are many positions that truly benefit from face-to-face interaction with team members. While tools like Skype have made face-to-face communication possible from home work environments, there is just something about being in the same room as other people during a brainstorming session and bouncing ideas off of one another. There is a certain energy created in a meeting full of people that just isn’t easily replicated in an indirect communication situation. That being said, even jobs and positions that require significant interaction with team members find themselves wasting time sending emails and using indirect forms of communication. In many cases, the fastest and most effective way to communicate with someone or answer a question is with direct, face-to-face interaction.

Even though so many jobs, positions, and employees are working from the comforts of their home offices today, it is unlikely that the traditional office environment will disappear anytime soon. Yes, more jobs are going to try out flexible schedules and environments, allowing employees to work from home. However, the classic office world is necessary in many ways. Studies have shown that employees who are never in the office and always working from home struggle to grow in their positions and with their companies. Without being seen and heard consistently by your colleagues, managers, and executives, it can be hard to demonstrate your work ethic, dedication, and ability. In many ways, the classic cliché “out of sight, out of mind” is the underlying issue for at-home employees. The home office will certainly grow as more jobs move online and the environment will certainly evolve, but office work and office banter will likely always remain important.

9 thoughts on “Why Can’t We All Work from Home?

  1. Pingback: Why Can't We All Work from Home? « Ramblings of a Remote Worker | Pals Work from Home Blog!

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  6. Great article and interesting debate on whether the traditional office will disappear or not. I’ve been remote working now for 4 years and from 6 different countries. I used to feel cut off at times, away from that energy you describe that can only come from ‘people’. However, the more you work alone/remotely the better you become at it. I find nowadays that I can get the same energy by visiting a busy coffee shop, this is particularly effective when meeting someone remotely on Skype. The combination of ‘people energy’ in the coffee shop and work focused debate on Skype seems to deliver the same result. In short, I’m not sure we have to be with our work colleagues to find that ‘buzz’ you speak of, we just need people…any people.

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