The idea of working from home remains alive and well with small business owners.
Last week, news that Yahoo CEO, Marissa Mayer, was discontinuing a policy of allowing company employees to work from home electrified the Web. A similar policy decision from Best Buy has also caused ripples.
In the U.S., an estimated 13 million, or one in 10 employees, work from home. Small business owners and entrepreneurs work from home as a way of reducing overhead and increasing flexibility. They often have their employees working from home for the same reasons.
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Why Working From Home Is Still A Good Idea
Don’t let anyone tell you working from home is a bad career move or that it will stop you from achieving your full potential. A list of great achievers who work from home includes no less than entrepreneur Richard Branson, star Amazon engineer James Hamilton, personal training and weight loss CEO Jeff Hyman, and Craig Newmark, Founder of Craigslist. Business Insider
You’re Always Accessible
Don’t believe anyone who tells you that working from home will make you less accessible to clients, suppliers or business partners. Or that employees who work for your business remotely will somehow be harder to manage. One of the upsides (or downsides) often discussed about working from home is that you’re always accessible. Chicago Tribune
According to a Stanford University study, an estimated 600,000 in the U.S. had “mega-commutes in 2010, traveling nearly 90 minutes or 50 miles for work.” Imagine the time lost on your startup or small business due to travel that’s not absolutely necessary. For any business that can be operated virtually or from a mobile location, cutting out the commute means obvious increases in productivity. The Wall Street Journal
Yes, working in an office can offer synergy and chemistry, but it also offers distraction. “For me, it was really challenging working in an office, because you have people walking, stopping by, knocking on your door and bringing you birthday cake,” says self-employed marketer Kelly Ann Collins, who doesn’t miss it at all. CNN Living
You Develop Better Work Habits
The key when working from home or managing a staff who does is to develop an effective policy. In this way, work from home arrangements can be superior to working in an office. They force you to think through the way you manage your own work habits and those of your staff. Randy Conley, Trust Practice Leader at The Ken Blanchard Companies, makes these suggestions about what your policy should look like. Blanchard LeaderChat
Reaping the Benefits of Working From Home
You Create a Better Workforce
An infographic from remote desktop app provider Splashtop shows the many benefits of allowing employees to work from home. For example, those working from home are 10 to 20 percent more productive. Also, 76 percent of telecommuters are willing to put in extra hours and 36 percent of employees would choose telecommuting over a pay raise. With benefits like this, what business owner in his or her right mind could refuse? DashBurst
You Create Ideal Conditions
The success of a great work from home program lies in how it is implemented. Here Sandra Wiley, COO of Boomer Consulting, leads us through the steps needed to create the perfect work from home program for your business. Steps include talking with your employees, making work from home an option instead of a mandate and utilizing the right technology to make your work from home program effective. CPA Practice Advisor
Looking at the work from home option, either as a solopreneur or a small business owner with staff, forces you to consider the most efficient way to operate your company. Some jobs cannot be done from home over an Internet connection. But for those that can, Lisa Belkin, Senior Columnist on Life/Work/Family, says entrepreneurs and employees must decide how the office of the future will be run. The Huffington Post
Prerna Gupta, Chief Product Officer at Smule Inc., wants to reinvent the office as a place to communicate ideas and strengthen personal and professional bonds. However, Gupta insists that the real creative insights on which companies base their major innovative leaps come from quiet times spent alone. That alone time is created by having employees working from home at least some of the time, and from giving them the trust and tools to do so. The New York Times
It Just Makes Sense
In the end, the main reason small business owners and solopreneurs should consider the work from home approach is that with the technology available, it is often the most practical choice. Executive coach, author, and entrepreneur, Jennie Wong, says there’s no place like home for your small business today. Just keep some important tips in mind that will allow you to manage your home business and office without loosing your mind. McClatchey
Working from Home Photo via Shutterstock
In response to the idea of eliminating distraction – This is a lot harder than it seems. My married business associates come into the office to reduce distractions. As a single guy I work from home part of the day because that is where I have fewer distractions. Like most situations, this is something that requires a situation-by-situation analysis. Blanket statements just don’t work.
Good point, Robert.
And I know people who can’t ever seem to settle in and work, when at home. There’s the TV, family to talk with, the dog to walk, laundry to do, etc.
I prefer working at home simply to avoid commuting time and hassles. But I tend to get into the zone while working, and ignore everything around me, no matter where I am.
Anita, getting into that “zone” is the key. Some days I can do it, and others are a little more difficult. On certain days my coffee pot works overtime, and the refrigerator door is opened too much. But, working at home for so many years is still more productive. I don’t think I’d do well in an office environment.
Yep, Kip, I hear you.
There are times when I am restless and keep getting up. I find that if I take a short walk and burn off some of that restless energy, it’s easier to concentrate. And a walk for me needs to be more than a walk to the coffee pot. Go outside if you can for 15 minutes around the block. If the weather is bad or you can’t do that, try going up and down some stairs multiple times.
It took me years to figure that out, though. I finally one day realized that my restlessness meant I had some energy to burn, and I wasn’t going to do it by walking 50 steps to the coffee machine for my 5th shot of caffeine for the day.
I think the thing that startup entrepreneurs should never forget is the savings in overhead that working at home offers. This doesn’t mean you should always work at home or even that it will be desirable to do so as your company grows. But in the beginning when starting with little or no financial backing, it may be necessary as a way to cut costs until the revenue or the investment starts rolling in. Thanks for sharing with the BizSugar community.
Heather, the cost savings is considerable. What’s the old saying? The biggest cause of death of startups is real estate — or something like that….
Plus, it also makes you more productive for you are able to work at your own pace and when you want to do it. Work has definitely changed over the years.
Plus working from home you have no overhead dealing with employees
Colleen E. Harrison
I started working from home while employed with the Internal Revenue Service as an IRS Revenue Agent. I did have to go into the office for such things as scheduled group meetings, case reviews and evaluations as well as training. I also had to provide all my own office furniture and equipment because the IRS was unable to fund such items. These were not tax deductible to me because working at home was not considered to be demanded by the employer, IRS. It was voluntary. Mileage to and from my audits of individuals and businesses was reimbursed by the IRS. I loved the opportunity to work from home. I still do as I run a tax business from my home office. It definitely cuts down on overhead costs and some of these costs, a percentage, can be deducted as home office expense deductions. It is great not to have to commute to work every day. I can take breaks as needed. Plus, I can work at all hours with safety and peace of mind. I have few distractions. Once one learns to focus on work and get into the “zone” productivity soars. There are many benefits to working at home. I could mention many others. It does take self discipline and self sufficiency as there is no one nearby to provide information or assistance. For me, it is the best way to work. I highly recommend working at home.
So many people are now working from home that it is surprising how many people are now outside working in their computers.
I agree with Robert. It depends on the employee. If they are self motivated and can avoid distraction or if they are rewarded / renumerated based directly by results then there is no worry about them pretending to work whilst noone is watching.
Working from home has trained me to work better. So when I launched my own business, it was easier to direct myself even if I don’t have anyone watching over my shoulder.