There was a time when managers were reluctant to allow their team members to work from home. Many believed the option was simply an excuse for employees to goof off, away from the structure and accountability of working in an office.
Those days are gone. Research shows that people who work from home are more productive and less stressed, and the option saves both workers and companies money.
More People than Ever Are Working from Home
Let’s look at some statistics from Global Workplace Analytics:
- Working at home regularly, among people who are not self-employed, has grown by 140 percent since 2005, nearly 10 times faster than the rest of the workforce or the self-employed.
- 3 million employees (3.2 percent of the workforce) now work from home at least half the time.
- Most people — 80 to 90 percent of the U.S. workforce — says they would like to telework at least part-time. Two to three days a week seems to be the ideal work-from-home schedule that allows for a balance of concentrative work at home and collaborative work at the office. Millennials are especially attracted to companies that allow them to work from home at least some of the time.
- Fortune 1000 companies worldwide are revamping their space around the fact that employees are already mobile. Studies repeatedly show they are not at their desk 50 to 60 percent of the time.
Telecommuting Saves Employees and Companies Money
Two-thirds of managers who offer telecommuting report that employees who work from home are more productive overall.
One reason is that employees are more engaged in their work when they have the flexibility to take care of personal responsibilities without having to jump through hoops just to take their kids to the doctor. Employers lose an estimated $1.8 trillion in lost productivity each year because of lack of engagement with the job, parents stressed over the cost of child care, chronic health problems and other situations that the work-from-home option alleviates.
Telecommuting saves employees money in transportation, parking, and eating meals out. It saves companies money on office space and utilities.
If you are thinking about allowing your employees the flexibility of working from home, you can use the online Telework Savings Calculator to understand the economic, environmental and societal impact of flexible work.
Working at home is quite different from working in an office. Here are some tips to help keep work-from-home employees productive.
- Find ways to avoid feeling lonely
It’s reported that 39 percent of people who freelance often feel lonely. This number is higher, at 54 percent, for Millennials.
To combat loneliness, consider getting a pet, working from a coffee shop (a “coffice) or office-sharing building, visiting your clients and attending networking events. Make sure you don’t end up spending more time on social media than you should, just to feel connected with others.
- Set boundaries with friends and family members
Some work-from-home employees have the opposite problem of being lonely: they find that once friends and family members realize they’re home all day, they often expect them to socialize during the day. It’s important to set boundaries as soon as you begin working from home. Let people know your working hours, and try to stick with that schedule. If you do allow people to drop by during the day, set a time limit on the visits.
If you have children, create stoplights from colored construction paper. Tape or hang the red light up when you cannot be disturbed and the green light when it's OK to come in. The yellow light means to check first. Kids will understand this system easily.
- Use technology to connect with coworkers
With video chatting technology, you can meet with your team without having to drive to the office. Google+ Hangouts is an excellent medium because you can meet with up to 10 people for free. Skype is a great resource, but at least one person in the group has to have a paid subscription for meetings between more than two people. And with the free version of Zoom, you can host up to 100 participants in a video session and conduct unlimited one-to-one meetings, with a 40-minute limit on each meeting.
- Use cloud storage
When you work from home, you become your own IT department, even if you still have the support of your company’s IT department for networking tasks.
Make sure you are protecting all the documents and data on your computer. That way, if it crashes, gets stolen or becomes corrupted with viruses, you will have an automatic backup, without having to copy everything manually. Also, if you have a meeting away from home and want to log in to another computer, you can simply log in to your cloud backup and retrieve any of your files. Now, if this seems to be over your head, then there are many services which can help you either remotely or in person, such as the Geek Squad from Best Buy. For a little more than a hundred dollars a year, you can have them perform many of the services, repairs, cleanups and instructions which you may need, 24/7, as often as you need. It’s a great deal.
Dropbox and Google Drive are great cloud-storage solutions. Your first 15 GB of storage are free with a Google account, and a Dropbox Basic account is free and includes 2 GB of space. You can purchase more space with either app. Plus, there is a limit to the size of documents you can send someone else via email. You can store large documents in either Dropbox and Google Drive and share the files with other users, so you can work collaboratively.
Carbonite is an excellent file-backup solution. For only $6/month for one computer and $24/month for multiple computers, Carbonite automatically backs up all your files. If you get a new computer, you can transfer all your files from Carbonite to your new computer automatically. And if you’re working from a computer that isn’t your own, you can log in to Carbonite to access all the files on your computer.
- Set a training goal for yourself
FSEdNet has hundreds of “bite-sized” training videos averaging 8.5 minutes each. Work with your team to determine which areas of instruction will benefit you most and set a goal to watch a certain number of videos each day. This will give you something to look forward to when you need a break from other tasks. The platform will automatically log the training which you’ve completed. Be sure to fully utilize all of our resource tools and worksheets to make notes about how you will use this training to improve your productivity and your relationships with clients.
FSEdNet: Video Training at Home or Anywhere Else
Our three training platforms provide competency-based learning that is ideal for agents and advisors who work from home: FSEdNet for advisors and agents, FSLEdNet for leaders and FSSEdNet for staff members.
Our training videos cover a small amount of information on a specific topic and are accompanied by our Participant Guides, which contain detailed written notes. The mobile app delivers a podcast-like experience. All these formats are available to managers, advisors and staff members 24/7, on any device, so they can learn at their own pace, from wherever they work, and review the materials as many times as needed.
Visit hello.fsednet.com now to request a demo, schedule a consultation or learn more about our competency-based e-learning solutions tailored to the financial services profession.