Commuting in Beijing can be an exhausting, dirty, harrowing experience. Whether standing on the subway, sitting on the bus, stuck in traffic, or crossing the street through a sea of cars, it is tempting to day dream about a reality in which getting to the office merely requires a walk down the hall. Rising in popularity over the last few years, telecommuting saves workers the hassle of travel, increases productivity and saves companies money on expensive offices. In a world ever more concerned with the state of our planet, taking commuters off the road also has a positive effect on the environment.
In 2009, there were 691,000 people working from home in the UK, according to the Labour Force Survey, up from 582,000 in 2006. This trend follows those who take advantage of the digital age, by telecommuting with a phone and a computer. Examples of professions more conducive to working from home “range from accountancy to telemarketing, via financial analysis, translation, data entry, graphic design, illustration, insurance, media buying, speech-writing, research, sales, travel agency, stockbroking, website design, writing, editing.”
Rather than slacking off while at home, some American studies have demonstrated an increased productivity of 30-40%. The time workers save by not commuting is utilized for work rather spent doing things unrelated to business. Also, because there is less supervision in a home office, employees work harder to demonstrate their effectiveness and thus guarantee continued job flexibility.
Despite all the advantages of working from home, there is still resistance from management who feel uncomfortable with the idea of not having employees physically present. This need for trust can be difficult concept for some companies, even though showing up for work does not automatically equate with productivity.
Clearly, telecommuting is not for everyone. It creates very vague boundaries between home and office, which is not appealing for people who need the certainty of leaving work at the office. With the prevalence of technology, it can mean knowing when to turn off the gadgets and resist the urge to check your work email. Working from home can also be difficult for those who wish to structure their social life around the office, but many companies bring employees in for regular meetings and are in constant communication.
To learn more about the increasing telecommuting trend, check out the Guardian’s article here.
Photo by richbeechina of Flickr.