So why do so many of us like to stay home rather than go to the office? It is not because we are lazy or lack ambition, or prefer to hang out in our pajamas all day. The truth is there are a lot of benefits to working from home.

Not only do I speak from experience, but there are more than a few people out there that agree with me! A great book was written on the topic called “Remote; No Office Needed”, by the founders of 37signals. The book shows employers and employees how to work together while being hundreds of miles apart.

There are two categories of people that work from home; there are the self-employed and the telecommuting employees.

I joined the team a Frontcube as a “rockstar organizer”, a position with potential for growth. Here is the cool thing, I am from Canada but I currently live in Germany and I am working for a company located in Sri Lanka. Some people may find that overwhelming. Different countries, different time zones and definitely no office to pop in to, and to be honest is can be at first. However, as I was doing my research for this post I realized that this will be the way of the future and that I am doing well to teach myself to let go of the “norms” we grew up with about jobs. Having a great position with a firm is no longer defined by a beautiful corner office in a shiny glass building in the downtown of a large city. It could mean a home office and staying in your sweats all day (if you choose to do so). I love my sweats, if I may say so!

In the United States some 30 million people work from a home office at least once a week. And that number is expected to increase by 63% in the next five years, according to a study by the Telework Research Network as published in Forbes magazine in February 2013.

This is not an isolated trend. Today in Canada 1 in 5 university graduates works from home according to Statistics Canada. So the message is “do not be afraid to be just another stat” (in this case). Most millennials (that’s me!) list flexible work options as a key recruitment factor.

Top 5 reasons why people work from home:

  1. Convenience and Greater flexibility – in most cases you can choose where and when you do the work. Your office can be at home or at the local coffee shop. Careful can be addictive!
  2. Avoiding the commute – not only does this save time and money but can minimize stress caused by spending long periods of time sitting in traffic (aka road rage) which can affect a persons ability to focus and be productive at work
  3. Saving money – you are saving money by not going out for lunch, buying gas to commute or purchasing a whole new wardrobe of work attire
  4. Family – because of the increased flexibility you can spend more time with your family and you can be there for those crucial moments and appointments that you may have otherwise missed by being at the office 9-5.
  5. More productivity – allowing workers more job flexibility contributes to the overall well-being of a person which in turn will increase a person’s productivity, job satisfaction and lower turnover.

When implemented strategically with the proper training for employees and managers working from home can bring a lot of benefits to a company.

Top 5 reasons why allowing employees to work from home or hiring freelancers makes sense for the companies:

  1. Lowering costs – you are eliminating one of the biggest expenses for your business which is renting office space
  2. Decreased Absenteeism – the beauty of working from home means that even if you are contagiously ill and would never think to get dressed and go get the rest of the office sick, you can still sit at your computer at home in your pajamas for a few hours.
  3. Reduced turnover – increased job flexibility has been proven to lead to higher job satisfaction which in turn reduces turnover
  4. Increased productivity – as mentioned above giving your employees more job flexibility will lead to higher job satisfaction which is linked to increased productivity
  5. Likely to attract more quality candidates with flexible work options – not only are flexible hours one of the key recruitment factors for the younger generations but you are allowing yourself to look for qualified candidates outside of the city your company is located. Just because you may be located in Sydney, Australia doesn’t mean that the best candidate for the job is.

However it’s important to keep in mind that not all jobs can be done remotely. Professional jobs are more likely to be done from home whereas retail, service and some sales jobs are hardly ever done from home due to the nature of the job.

Although working from home has its benefits for both employee and employer, it has been shown that a lack of face-to-face time between workers can cause an employee to feel no sense of attachment to the company. There are ways that companies can mitigate this issue. We at Frontcube hold weekly facetime meetings via Skype or Hangouts.

We also ensure that we are logged into our chat forum on Hipchat throughout the workday in order to feel like we can reach out and ask a question or clear up an issue in real-time. Some people thrive on the collaborative and social aspects of the office space. If you are one of those people then working from home may not be for you; At least not full-time. Determining if you possess certain personality traits will help you decide if working from home is right for you. People who have a high level of independence and the ability to work alone tend to be more successful when working from home.

Once I came on board with Frontcube I was asked to complete the DISC personality test to help myself and my new employer get a better understanding of how I communicate best. If you would like to learn what DISC stands for or take the test yourself, you can do so by clicking here. Here are some other tips I can offer to help those that are already working from home or any of you hoping to do so in the future.

5 Key success factors for working from home:

  1. Create a routine or daily work schedule – it still has to feel like work but make sure to include breaks for lunch or coffee or to drive your kids to soccer
  2. Designate a work space within your home – don’t work from your bed one day and then from the kitchen table the next. Pick one space and call it your “office” so that you and other people know that you are are “work” when you are in this space
  3. Minimize distractions and be present – turn off the television and don’t stop mid-email to your colleague to make a to-do list for your husband
  4. Make sure to let others know you are on the clock – it is important to let your family and friends know that you are working so that they know not to distract you
  5.  Technology is your friend – when working remotely you rely entirely on technology to communicate and get work done so ramp up those tech skills or befriend a techie

Most importantly what I have learned is do not let the lines between work and personal life blur. You have to make a conscious effort not to be available 24/7 (unless of course that was agreed upon with your employer) because it will actually negate one of the biggest reasons why working from home is great; work-life balance.

So at the end of your work day, turn off the computer and enjoy your life. There is so much more to who you are than your “job”. I would love to know, are you currently working from home? If so, do you enjoy it? What limitations have you experienced while working from home?

Photo Credit: Kevin Konnyu via Compfight cc