Although working from home might sound like a wonderful alternative to trudging into the office each day for an eight-hour shift in a cubicle, it isn't a good fit for everyone.
Scott Boyar, an associate professor in the department of management, information systems and quantitative methods at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, said whether an employee is successful in working from home depends on the person, the job and the training the organization provides for the person to do that role remotely.
"An organization has a lot of responsibility when letting workers go virtual, but the employee carries a lot of it too," Boyar said.
Boyar believes employees thinking about working from home need to consider all of the factors that come with working remotely. He thinks potential telecommuters should be asking themselves three important questions before changing their work structure:
- Does it fit my personality and preference for integrating work into my family environment?
- Can I structure my time and stay motivated to work throughout the day?
- Will I fight the temptation to want to skip workdays altogether?
If they answer in the affirmative, telecommuting could be an excellent option for employees looking to find a better balance between their work and family life, Boyar said.
"While there can be distractions at home — like kids, animals, TV and chores — there's often flexibility to transition among various roles — particularly family — if boundaries can be set with some self-discipline," Boyar said.
In addition to a better work-life balance, other benefits of telecommuting include reduced transportation costs and environmental impact, and time savings due to not having to commute, Boyar said. In addition, if set up properly, work can be done independently with fewer interruptions than occur in an office environment.
"I like the social aspect at work, but it can be hard to get things done efficiently in the office with too many interruptions," he said. "However, being away from the office can limit informal social interactions that help employees form bonds with each other, and such social ties can improve job satisfaction and be a catalyst for advancement opportunities."
Boyar believes the ideal situation for most employees may involve a balanced approach that includes working in both the office and at home throughout the week.
"Organizations should not shy away from alternative work arrangements, such as telecommuting or flex time, because it gives employees with other responsibilities the opportunity to schedule necessary needs around their work," Boyar said. "This option can lead to a much happier employee, which is always good for a company."
Originally published on BusinessNewsDaily.