The Benefits of Homeworking
Having worked from home for over 20 years – I am a massive fan!
I have been able to do my job wherever and whenever I wanted, as long as I delivered results. For me, the benefits of working from home far outweighed the drawbacks. There are a lot of reasons why it’s good for individuals, organisations and society as whole to work from home. Here are some of the best reasons I have found from working at home.
Individual Benefits of Homeworking
Homeworking can be a very popular option for individuals, for good reason:
- Less commuting costs – working from home means less or even no commuting costs. According to Totaljobs the average UK employee spends £146 on their monthly commute, amounting to £1,752 annually. This represents a sizeable chunk from the annual salary.
- Savings in travel time – the average UK worker spends a lot of time commuting – travelling 31.3 miles and making 53 minute journeys every day. That is before taking into account how long it takes to get ready, being stuck in traffic jams, or waiting for delayed or cancelled public transport.
- Greater flexibility with home life – moving away from the office environment allows people to set their own working schedule so that they can manage their home life more effectively. Whether its managing childcare, going to appointments or waiting for a delivery working from home provides that flexibility.
- Less distractions – the office environment makes it very easy for people to distract each other. A distraction itself may only take a few minutes to deal with but it can take much longer to regain concentration. Working from home removes these distractions.
- Improved health and fitness – with time saved on commuting and the ability to set their own working schedules people have much more time and opportunity to focus on their own well-being. It also means that people are less likely to be exposed to illness by avoiding public transport and busy offices.
- Preferred working environment – being at home gives people lots of flexibility when it comes to workspace preferences. Maybe they need a certain temperature. Maybe they prefer to be surrounded by plants. Maybe they like being near a window. Homeworkers can arrange their working environment to suit their individual needs.
Organisational Benefits of Homeworking
Homeworking can help organisations operate much more effectively:
- Reduced overheads – allowing people to work from home helps to reduce overhead expenditures. If office space is properly rationalised to reflect lower occupancy office costs can be significantly reduced. This may include rents, rates, energy consumption, office supplies, furniture or office equipment.
- Increased productivity – studies show that homeworkers are more productive than those who work in a typical office environment. According to a Canada Life survey, homeworkers rank their productivity as 7.7/10 compared with 6.5/10 for office workers. They have greater autonomy, fewer interruptions and greater focus.
- Higher staff morale – people who work from home often have higher morale and enjoy their job responsibilities more than those in a traditional office environment. Increased morale often has a positive impact on productivity and work quality, which benefits the organisation’s performance.
- Reduced staff turnover – allowing people to work from home can reduce staff turnover. As people are generally happier when they work from home they are less likely to quit. Greater loyalty and reduced attrition mean less time and money spent on staff recruitment.
- Increased talent pool – by allowing people to work from home organisations can access a much wider pool of talent – whether that’s the sizeable older workforce, millennials who place greater emphasis on work-life balance, people from more geographically remote areas, or people who may not be able to travel to an office.
- Reduced absenteeism – studies show that home workers take fewer days off sick than those based in an office. A Canada Life survey found that people working in an office took on average 3.1 days of sick leave per year, whilst homeworkers only took 1.8 sick days. Also, homeworkers are less affected by bad weather or travel disruption.
- Corporate Social Responsibility – homeworking cuts down on commuting. In addition, people who work from home often conduct virtual meetings and facilitate communications electronically. This helps the environment and allows organisations to position themselves as good corporate stewards.
Societal Benefits of Homeworking
Homeworking can have enormous societal benefits:
- Environmental impact – the environmental impact of a shift towards homeworking comes from fewer people commuting to work. Homeworking may do more for the planet than expected. Coronavirus lockdowns have had a noticeable impact on pollution levels across the world. Here are some of the most impactful positive environmental benefits of homeworking:
- Reduced greenhouse gas emissions – Monster suggest that the average person in the UK could reduce their CO2 emissions by 988 kg per year by working from home.
- Decreased consumption of fossil fuels – based on an average UK commute of 31.3 miles (Total Jobs) a homeworker could reduce the fuel they consumed by 200 gallons per year.
- Reduced congestion – Monster suggest that there would be 1.1 million fewer cars on the road in 12 major cities if the number of homeworkers in the UK was doubled to 8.5 million.
- Community impact – the community impact derives from the improved work-life balance from home working. This allows people to spend more time with their families or in their communities. Research into the impact of Coronavirus lockdown measures by the Office of National Statistics has revealed that more people are doing more to help others in their community. This has been reflected in the media which has reported a terrific revival of community spirit. A lasting legacy of this crisis might be the demand for more homeworking so that people have sufficient capacity to focus on the things in life that really matter – family, friends and community.
Home working offers a significant range of benefits for individuals, organisations and society as a whole. But there are also some significant downsides which make it unsuitable for some people or organisations. These are covered in depth in a separate article on the downsides. myHaswell offers consultancy support to help organisations consider and implement homeworking, for more information contact myHaswell on 0118 449 2829.
Dr Angela Ellam
Angela is a co-founder and Director of Haswell Analytics Limited. She has played key roles in the shaping and managing the myHaswell services.