Working from home is a dream for many people. But why is that? Is it really all it’s cracked up to be? What are the benefits of working from home?
In this article, we look at the advantages of working remotely for employees (including self-employed people) and for employers, who need to manage a remote workforce. While there are some downsides, it’s true that people who work from home do enjoy lots of perks too.
What are the benefits of working from home?
If you would like to quit your job and go remote then you probably already have some benefits of working from home in mind. Perhaps you hate your commute or want to be more available to your family during the working week. But we’re willing to bet there are other benefits you haven’t thought of too.
We’ve come up with 9 big advantages of working from home that apply to all home workers, regardless of their individual circumstances or industry.
Please don’t misunderstand this one. Working from home does not mean that you are completely free to do what you like 24/7. You’ll probably still have a boss and colleagues, perhaps clients too, and they will schedule calls and video meetings with you.
However, even accounting for this, working from home allows greater flexibility to choose your own schedule than office work. In the vast majority of cases, if you want to start work a little later in the day, finish a bit early, or take a longer break at lunchtime, this is much easier to do when you’re at home without your boss looking over your shoulder.
Choose your own environment
When you take an office job, you’re committing to work in whatever setup they already have established. Most people don’t get a say in whether their office is open plan, how many people are sat together in a bank of desks, and things like opening windows or putting music on must be negotiated with colleagues.
Working from home puts the control back in your hands. You can choose where you work, how to set up your office, what plants you have, what temperature you want, and what radio stations to listen to (and how loud they should be!).
Wear what you like
This is true for all remote workers, at least to some extent, but we do advise some caution.
For starters, even if you won’t be physically meeting people during the day, it’s likely that you will have video calls. Clearly, if you do, you can’t be sat at home in your PJs!
Secondly, what you wear has a significant impact on your state of mind. Following a morning routine of getting dressed properly, in reasonably smart clothing, will make you feel professional and ready to start the day.
So, while you can technically get away with more casual clothing while working from home, be careful that it doesn’t start to make you lazy and impact your work.
Get personal tasks done
Remember the flexibility that we mentioned earlier? It can present opportunities to get personal tasks done.
We’re not talking about skiving off work for hours at a time. We’re talking about taking short breaks during the day to get something done that would be impossible if you were working in an office.
For example, if you’re in an office, you probably won’t drive home to water your garden plants. If you’re working from home, it won’t cost you much time at all to pop outside and get that job ticked off the list.
Similarly, you wouldn’t schedule a grocery delivery for the middle of a working day if nobody was going to be home. But, if you work from home, you can easily work away until the delivery arrives, get things sorted, then return to work.
Of course, the important thing is that these are quick breaks. We’re not talking about procrastinating or skiving off work.
Some people love the hustle and bustle of a busy office. For others, chatting colleagues and people coming and going can be a major distraction that stops them doing their best work.
Working from home removes this issue. Assuming you have a dedicated space to work away from family, you’ll be free to work in peace and quiet.
This is often cited as the number one reason to work from home. The vast majority of people hate commuting, so the chance to remove it from their daily routine couldn’t be more appealing.
Not having to commute will save you money, as you no longer need to pay for fuel or public transport. It will save you lots of time, as it cuts out two journeys every day. And it’s good for the environment too.
Improve your diet
For most people, it is much easier to prepare a healthy and inexpensive meal in their own kitchen than it is to eat well and cheaply at work.
While workplaces do generally have kitchens, they are often limited in terms of fridge space and cooking equipment. Not to mention the risk of coworkers stealing your sandwich!
Working from home means you can easily plan your meals for the whole week and take the time to cook properly and eat well.
Compared to commuting to work by car or public transport, working from home will save you money. Instead of spending money on fuel or bus tickets, you’ll be able to save that money for other things instead.
You may also save money on lunches. Rather than buying your lunch every day, you’ll be able to buy cheaper ingredients in bulk.
Of course, this benefit only applies if you were paying to commute and weren’t making your lunches at home already!
More time with family
When working from home, it’s important to set up a dedicated space to work. We don’t recommend sitting at your dining table, particularly if you have family home at the same time. As much as you might enjoy having your family around, it’s important to draw a line between your home and work life. (Read our advice on how to work from home with kids.)
That said, working from home does give you more time to enjoy with the family.
You’ll have more time at the start and end of the day, as you no longer have to commute, and you can take lunch breaks with family too.
Improved mental health
Whether working from home improves your mental health really depends on your personality and mental health needs.
For some people, working from home has a negative impact. People not suited to working from home may struggle with loneliness, lack of motivation, and even depression.
However, if you’re the kind of person who enjoys working from home, it can offer great benefits. The benefits listed above – more flexibility, a better environment, an improved diet, more time with family, etc – all add up to make you less stressed and generally happier.
What are the benefits of working from home for employers?
Retain more staff
Many employees view the option to work from home as a major perk. A perk that they won’t give up easily! If you offer remote working and one of your competitors doesn’t, you’ll find that far fewer staff jump ship.
And how many times have you lost a good employee because they moved away? Sometimes, family circumstances mean that people are forced to move house. Even if they don’t want to move job, they may be forced out by an impossible commute. Of course, the simple solution is to let them work from home, so they don’t need to commute at all.
Offering the option to work from home can save a business a fortune in recruitment costs, while ensuring they don’t lose their most valuable talent.
Widen your scope for recruitment
Just as working from home can help you retain staff, it can also help you to recruit better people.
When you insist that everyone must come into the office each day, you’re limiting your recruitment options to people that live within a commutable distance. Remote working removes that restriction.
Suddenly, by allowing staff to work from home, you have the option to recruit from a much wider area – perhaps even anywhere in the world! – which means you have many more potential employees to choose from.
For some people, working from home can provide a fantastic productivity boost. Those people who find the office environment distracting may be able to work much more effectively in their home environment.
Of course, this very much depends on the person and their tasks. While some people and tasks are perfectly suited to home working, others are not.
We recommend offering home working on a trial basis initially. This should allow you to assess its impact on productivity.
Less sick leave
There are three key reasons why allowing employees to work from home can reduce the number of sick days they take.
- The mental health benefits that (some people) enjoy by working from home means less time off with stress and related issues
- People who are only mildly ill are more likely to work if they can do so at home, rather than having to face a commute while feeling under the weather
- Absenteeism may be reduced, as people who might otherwise have phoned in sick (say, for an appointment) are more likely to work for the rest of the day if they can do so at home
A flexible work force
To put it simply: Being flexible with your staff makes them more likely to be flexible for you!
By giving your employees the option to work from home, you’re showing that you trust them and that you are happy for them to manage their own time, at least to some degree.
This can pay dividends when you need flexibility in return – for example, some weekend work in order to deliver an important project on time.
How does working from home save companies money? There are several areas where savings can be made, including:
- Savings on office space. If your staff work from home, you don’t need to buy or rent as big an office.
- Lower utility costs, as a smaller office means lower bills.
- Less need for office equipment and supplies (including tea and coffee!)
- A reduction in travel costs and expensed journeys. Even if you don’t contribute to the costs of your employees’ commutes, you may find that staff who work from home charge fewer journeys back to their employer on expenses. This is because they have reduced commute costs themselves and they will become accustomed to getting aspects of their role done remotely rather than travelling.