When Marissa Mayer ended Yahoo’s work-from-home policy, a debate erupted in the media and in break rooms everywhere, questioning the merit of the decision. The magnitude of the ensuing uproar is due to the fact that she called into question issues that all workers deal with, not just those working at Yahoo: the very nature of work—productivity, creativity and innovation. Shortly following her decision, Best Buy terminated its own Results Only Work Environment, begging the question: if it’s not about results, what is it about?
Many people wondered if this was the start of the end for working-at-home. After all, if a new mother thought it was a bad idea, doesn’t that say something?
Not necessarily. It is important to consider that Mayer was brought into Yahoo for one main reason: to save a floundering company with her notoriously severe and admittedly neurotic business tactics (she once demanded a thorough screening of 41 imperceptibly different shades of blue to determine the most popular choice.) Best Buy is also trying to find a way to survive in a world that uses it as a showroom for online mega-stores like Amazon.
So these two decisions certainly haven’t shut the book on working from home. The practice is increasing in popularity all the time and offers many benefits. Let’s dig deeper into some misconceptions so you can determine if it is right for you.
Misconception: Working from home only benefits parents with young children
Reality: Working from home benefits employers, employees and the environment and might not even be desirable to parents of young children. Parents who are unable to find affordable care for their children during working hours may have no choice but to find telecommuting opportunities, but this is not as ideal as it seems. Children may not understand why they are not receiving undivided attention and parents may find it difficult to find quiet hours to work undisturbed.
The environment, on the other hand, benefits immensely.
Global Workplace Analytics and the Telework Research Network compiled data and found that:
“Half-time telecommuting could reduce carbon emissions by over 51 million metric tons a year—the equivalent of taking all of New York’s commuters off the road.”
The worker also receives great benefit. Instead of making a long commute and arriving at work frazzled, you can start your work day in with a calm state of mind. Saved hours can also be used to check emails and schedules that may have distracted you during the work day. Also, working from home is healthy, allowing you to use saved time to exercise or cook a healthy meal. Furthermore, this increase in productivity can benefit your employer.
Misconception: I won’t be able to communicate with my coworkers as easily.
Reality: Some positions require being at an office, but many do not. If you feel you need to be in the office simply to walk to a co-workers office, you may not be aware of the latest technological tools. There are a plethora of tools that make communicating over video and sharing documents in live time easy and affordable.
Misconception: The home environment is too distracting
Reality: This one is also about technology, specifically productivity tools. There are so many ways to remove online distracters that it is a non-issue if you make use of available tools. There are apps that allow you to block websites for a certain time without the option to unblock until the timer runs down. Websites like Instapaper save articles and videos in one place for reading after work. Lifehacker regularly reviews and explains how to use these tools at http://lifehacker.com/productivity/
If you consider your motivation for working at home and support your efforts with technology, you will reap all of these benefits and help the environment.