Companies working 100% remote have grown from less than 50 in 2014 to almost 200 in 2018. The debate rages on about the advantages of working remotely with the pro votes leading 15-1. The naysayers seem focused on the misconception that workers cannot be trusted to work diligently, completely ignoring the fact that productivity is king, not hours invested with nose to the grindstone. If a worker can finish their work in 6 hours a day, they earned their paycheck.

LinkedIn recently had the following to say about the growth of remote work: There are 170 companies in the U.S. that operate completely on remote working, up from 26 in 2014, reports CNBC, citing data from FlexJobs. CNBC calls these fully remote companies the “next big wave in work/life balance,” made possible by technology and an increasing focus on quality of life among workers — particularly, young workers. Some benefits also include a reduced environmental impact and money saved for workers on commuting expenses. And yet, despite its growing popularity within some firms and among workers, some companies, most notably IBM, have recently pulled workers back into the office, claiming that remote work reduces collaboration, reports Forbes.

Some commenters sang the praises of remote work too:

Working remote is great! So much work actually gets done. Have you ever watched a show without commercials? That’s what working from home is. The sad truth is that collaborating generally means sitting in meetings hearing about peoples weekends, weekend plans or other pithy anecdotes. If we focus on why we are at work in the first place………..to produce results then working remote definitely accommodates this. – Becky S.

When I work remotely I need 15 minutes for something that would take me 45 minutes in the office. I like to be away from the noise and even the feeling of other people around me (on a subconscious level) which makes it so much easier to focus on the task at hand. Isabella B

and of course I weighed in with the following: Remote work does improve productivity for a large percentage of people, but not everyone or every type of work. The benefits of telework are undeniable (image if just 30% of workers telecommuted, the reduction in traffic and commute times would be amazing! The goal should be 50-60%). I myself am twice as productive working from home (and far less stressed!).

The advantages are undeniable: reduced stress, higher productivity, reduced traffic, happier employees, reduced office costs (rent, utilities, parking, etc.), lower costs for employees (transportation, days off for home chores/appointment, etc.), and more.

There are disadvantages as well: overwork (it’s harder to quit working), somewhat reduced team building time, workers feeling disconnected or left out, workers feeling they are always at work (can’t walk by the computer without checking email), some work cannot be done from home.

The increase in productivity is undeniable for most people. Smart workers treat working from home as a privilege. Sometimes a periodic (monthly?) meeting at an office or coffee shop is a good idea to build teams. The real advantage is happier employees who remain loyal and dedicated to their jobs.

They can avoid taking time off to meet the cable guy or furnace repairman, run & do some chores, and take care of the house. Granted they should still send the kids off to daycare, if necessary as distractions\interruptions should not be allowed to interfere with work.

The insecure managers who think employees only work when they are being watched are driving away the good workers and harming morale. Respect is a two-way street based on trust. While lower level workers do require more supervision, most are trustworthy and mid-level workers will be more loyal employees when managers show some faith in them to meet their production goals. After all, productivity should matter more than hours invested.

The disadvantages are real too. Many people have trouble walking away form their work at the end of the day and tend to overwork. They can’t walk by the computer without checking email. When they can’t sleep, they put in a few hours on their work. It is more difficult to separate work and home life. Despite the reduced costs and time savings, some people just can’t separate themselves from their work.

The advantages to the community are huge! Can you imagine rush hour traffic reduced by 30%? How about 50%?! The reduced demand for ever-larger roads would reduce taxes! Of course, Uber type ride sharing will soon have a similar, though much lower impact and perhaps even make second cars unnecessary!

There is an annual Telework Conference in Houston every June that expounds on the advantages of remote work. IT is fun to attend and you can help push employers toward this rapidly growing win-win solution by adding your voice to the march toward telecommuting. I hope to see you there this year!

Leave comments below and let’s pressure companies to look into making telecommuting available wherever possible.

 

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