You’re likely aware that more people are working from home than ever before. According to a recent survey from Indeed, more and more jobs are allowing employees to work remotely.

Out of the 500 employees surveyed, 55% percent said they were allowed to work remotely, and among those, 75% said this perk improved work-life balance, and 60% said that their productivity improved.

Small businesses were among the least likely to allow their employees to work from home, although 40% of small business employers surveyed stated that they supported the option to do so. This begs the question:

“Should the modern employer be less focused on providing state-of-the-art office spaces if employees would rather skip the commute and work from home?”

I read, and then re-read this question, and it really got me to thinking! I have worked in lots of different work environments, everything from quiet and secluded, to noisy and open. Co-workers who largely went about their business each day – versus colleagues who liked to chat a lot.

As a result, part of any decision about remote work needs to address what type of worker YOU are. You have to be a self-starter, self-motivated, and okay with having little face-to-face interaction with colleagues. If that isn’t you, remote work might be a bad idea.

In addition to individual differences, the type of work the business does, as well as its size, also need to be taken into account. Certain professions, like writing, editing and graphic design, are much more conducive to remote work than other fields. When I started working from home (I still prefer that term over “remote” work!) more than seven years ago, the only big change in my day-to-day work was that instead of being handed a paper proof, I received it electronically.

“Brick-and-mortar” issues such as construction costs, office rent, etc. are another big consideration for any business thinking about allowing more employees to skip the office commute and work from home. It used to be that if a company wanted to expand, it was almost automatically looking at building (or leasing) a bigger building. Today this can be a murky matter. The firm might be better off sticking with the physical size building it has, and encouraging (wherever applicable) more employees to work from home. What a cost savings!

Or what if you are an EAP practitioner or other behavioral health professional with an individual practice? Chances are, the cost of renting an office, especially if you live in an expensive city where space is at a premium – such as New York, Chicago, or Seattle – is even more cost prohibitive than it is for an employer!

Then there is the complex matter of how to manage employees who work from home – an area that I believe is going to become a big EAP issue in the near future. Part one of an article by Jan Makela in the December “Employee Assistance Report” (EAR) offers some great advice.  For more on EAR go to http://www.writeitrightllc.com

It’s a lot to think about, but even if you haven’t had to consider these issues yet, you very likely WILL need to examine this emerging trend in the near future. Who knows? It might even involve fancy office buildings becoming largely a thing of the past.

 

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