Working From Home in 2020: Why you need to act now plus 20 expert tips

More and more companies understood that to attract and maintain for longer periods the talents they need for their business to be a competitive one, they have to adjust the working program, to switch towards flexible and remote working hours.

This article covers the following topics:

Introduction

When it comes to working from home, there are always two groups of employers’ opinions: employers who imagine their workers will simply lay on the couch all day long, doing nothing; and the other group of employers who think their employees will be happier, therefore more productive. Chances are that the answer greatly depends on the type of business and the personality of each employee. While some employees are most efficient working 40 hours per week in an office, there is growing support for the second group of workers who feel they are more productive working from home.

Yes, the first impression is that working from home is awesome… right up until your child needs all your attention, your cat wants to sleep on your laptop, your neighbor builds something in his own house but it sure sounds like he is just next to you. In the beginning, you might think that working from home fits you the best, but soon you can discover that you became your worst enemy. Also, working from home tends to blur the boundaries between work and personal life — if you work too hard, you will have no personal life left.

On the other hand, in the office from work, your coworkers represent the greatest threat to keeping you from getting some real work done. When you are the most focused, they drop by your desk, want to have a chat, invite you to lunch, breaking your concentration. The social benefits of working in an office, belonging to a team are nice to have, but they can become a challenge if you are easily distracted and you find it difficult to concentrate once you have been interrupted.

Next, you will learn more about the statistics, benefits, and tips on how to work from home, but before that let us dig deeper to find out more about the history of working from home. In the end, you will find some opinions about the future of work from home.


The history of working from home

Contrarily what you probably believe, the history of working from home is not as recent as one might think.

From a long-view perspective, working from home has always been a thing, not just in the last several decades with the advent of telecommuting, but for hundreds of thousands of years. Combining workspace and living space is a natural way for families and communities to efficiently pool resources, make the most of the space at hand, and work cooperatively together for the good of all.

Here are seven surprising facts from the history of working from home:

1. Home-based jobs have been around for, well, millennia.

We could say the early agriculture-based humans, along with the hunter-gatherers, had their early versions of working from home going back thousands of years. While our stationary agricultural forebears sheltered in place with farm-based operations, the more nomadic hunter-gatherers made the fireside their “home,” wherever it happened to be.

The work-home environment was a definite feature of life for hunter-gatherers, who and brought the fruits of their labor back to the tribe. Together, people prepared animals for consumption, sorted and ground grains, and fashioned clothing for coverage and protection.

Both home-based groups operated under the same principle, combining work, living space, and resources for the good of the entire clan.

2. Medieval “work-homes” were precursors to today’s open-plan offices.

Way before today's open offices and cubicle work-life, medieval "work-homes" were designed to combine not only domestic activities but also more “commercial” pursuits in a single living space. Occupants could cook, sew, weave, sleep, and eat in one area while harvesting, butchery, dairy, and other tasks were performed at the other end of the house, often under the same roof.

3. Even the Industrial Revolution could not kill the work-from-home movement.

The Industrial Revolution had a huge impact on how and where people work. Industrialization pulled workers out of their homes, which may not be surprising. What may be less expected, though, is that craftspeople and merchants took advantage of the home-workplace hybrid to have street-facing shops, with personal living space in the back, or upstairs, for family.

4. World War II helped set the stage for the modern, tech-connected home worker.

The propaganda during World War II drew women to nontraditional workspaces like factories and the munitions industry. The invention of the world’s first electronic digital computer occurs during this time and thanks to this early technological innovation; computerization was on and running, laying the groundwork for personal computers, and thus shifting back to working from home.

5. Environmental issues helped propel the telecommuting trend.

The 1970s brought a perfect storm: the clean air movement, gas shortages, and high fuel costs, due to the oil embargo. It all might seem like a bad turn, but cumulatively, it amounted to good news for telecommuters, as telecommuting was an alternative to transportation from home to work and back. For years, people drove from their homes in central business districts, without thinking about the consequences over the environment. Instead of commuting to a central already congested location downtown, workers were recommended to report to the closest office to their homes to receive and complete assignments there.

6. Working from home is no longer just an employee “perk.”

Between 2005 and 2015, work-from-home options increased by 115%, becoming not just an extra perk, but a requirement for potential employees wanting to work at least half-time or more from home. Research shows that remote work is most definitely on the rise, which is good news for the many job seekers demanding work flexibility as a right, not just a “perk.”

7. Employers are embracing work flexibility.

The very existence of resources for remote work is proof that more and more companies have embraced remote jobs as a way to enhance their candidate pool and improve their efficiency and productivity and the results are surprising: according to FlexJobs’ 2017 Super Survey, along with other research, flexible work makes employees happier and more productive.

Especially, but not exclusively, the tech industry is well known for its flexible schedules and telecommuting opportunities, which makes sense, considering most tech companies are web-based and technology is the greatest resource when working from home. With video chats, conference calls, VPN networks, and wireless Internet, tech employees can constantly stay connected as though they are sitting in the office, rather than at home.



20 tips for working from home

As we already mentioned, working from home can be hugely rewarding for all involved, but only if the employees keep their productivity level up, maintain a healthy work-life balance and nurture business relationships.

Everyone working from home has to figure out when to work, where to work, and how to create boundaries between work life and personal life.

Here is a compilation of tips for working from home efficiently, while keeping the boundaries between work and personal life.

1. Maintain regular hours

Set a schedule and try to stick to it. Having clear guidelines for when to work and when to stop helps many workers from home to maintain a work-life balance.

2. Create a morning routine. Get started early

It is very important to create a routine that gets you started in the morning: make a cup of coffee, have breakfast, take a shower, returning home from a jog… whatever ends with you starting work. Believe it or not, one way to work from home productively is to dive into your to-do list as soon as you wake up.

3. Set ground rules with people in your space. Close the door

It will be very easy to leave the door to whatever room or space you set apart to be your workplace open. Don’t do it. If the door is open, that represents something to you and your family. To you, it represents the idea that if it’s a bit tough, or you don’t feel like working today, you don’t have to. To your family, it represents the idea that you are around, and available.

4. Structure your day as you would be in your office

When working from home, you're your manager. Without things like an in-person meeting schedule to break up your day, you can be quick to lose focus.To stay on schedule, segment what you have to do and when you'll do it over the day.

5. Keep a dedicated working space

Just because you are not working at an office doesn't mean you can't, well, have an office. Rather than cooping yourself up in your room or on the couch - spaces that are associated with leisure time - dedicate a specific room or surface in your home to work. Keep your desk and your working area tidy.

6. Turn off the telephone and social media

Social media is designed to make it easy for you to open and browse quickly. At work, though, this convenience can be the detriment of your productivity. Turn off messengers and email notifications too.

7. Don’t stop working if it’s a hard day

There will be times when you haven’t got any ideas, or just don’t feel productive. Train yourself to do some work anyway. It is a shortfall from "It's just not happening at the moment" to "It's a bit tough, I'll stop for the day". Next thing you know, you never seem to get anything done.

8. Work when you are most productive. Schedule your day around your natural schedule

To capitalize on your most productive periods, save your harder tasks for when you know you will be in the right headspace for them. Use slower points of the day to knock out the easier, logistical tasks that are also on your plate.

9. Give yourself breaks

Don’t be locked in the room all the time. Know your company's policy on break times and take them. For every hour you work, have a 15-30 minute break. Give your mind time to digest what is done, then come back. You will improve the quality of what you produce a hundredfold.

10. Be careful what music you listen to while you work

Music, TV, the weather… Just about everything will influence your mood. Some you can’t change, some you can. Make sure that you surround yourself with things that will give you the best frame of mind for whatever you’re about to do.

11. Over-communicate. Interact with other human

Working from home requires you to over-communicate. Tell everyone who needs to know about your schedule and availability. When you finish a project or important task, say it.

Interacting with other people during the day is allowed, even if they're not your coworkers. It is a good idea to see another face during the day when most of your workday is solitary.

12. Make time for people

When people ask, give them what you can. Respond in some way to every email. It doesn’t matter how long it takes you to get around to it. You don’t have to reply to that day. Just make sure you do. It matters.

13. Prepare your meals the night before

When you're in your own home, it can be tempting to spend time preparing a nice breakfast and lunch for yourself. Don't use precious minutes making your food the day of work, cook it the night before.

Preparing food ahead of time ensures you can use your meal times to eat, and that you aren't performing non-work tasks that spend energy better used at your desk.

14. Pick a definitive finish time each time

Set an alarm at the end of the day to indicate your normal workday is coming to an end. You don't have to stop at exactly that time, but knowing the workday is technically over can help you start the process of saving your work and calling it quits for the evening.

15. Commit to doing more

Projects always take longer than you initially think they will. For that reason, you'll frequently get done less than you set out to do. So, just as you're encouraged to overestimate how much time you will spend doing one thing, you should also overestimate how many things you'll do during the day. Even if you come up short of your goal, you'll still come out of that day with a solid list of tasks filed under 'complete.'

16. Keep a notepad and pencil nearby

Write down ideas for blog posts, projects, anything that springs to mind. Then have a pinboard to stick them on. Look at it twice a week to refresh your mind of things that could be done sometime. Some of the best work you will ever do will come from random bits of inspiration.

17. Don’t go back to work when you’ve finished

Did you just have a great idea for a post? Fantastic, write down the basics on a note, and pin it up. Don’t turn on your computer if it’s not crucial, once you’ve finished your day.

18. Know when to stop

Don’t work late into the night. Set defined times when you are going to work, and then when it passes, stop. Even if you don’t stop right away, but make sure that you don’t end up letting work run your life.

19. Don’t be hard on yourself

The most successful employees working from home have a reputation for being extremely disciplined. But everyone lets their attention drift sometimes. If you find yourself working one minute and booking flights for your upcoming vacation the next, don’t be too hard on yourself: allow yourself this break and then get back to work.

20. End your day with a routine

Just as you should start your day with a routine, create a habit that signals the end of the workday. It might be a sign-off, an evening dog walk, or a snack with the family. You might have a simple routine such as shutting down your computer. Whatever you choose, do it consistently to mark the end of working hours.


Benefits of working from home

The numbers are speaking for themselves: there is no doubt that “working from home” gains more attention in the current working world.

For most people, working from home is seen as an employee benefit, with workers gaining more from flexible working arrangements than employers. Next, we will emphasize the benefits that working from home can bring for all involved.

Benefits for the employee

Many employees value flexibility in their working arrangements for several reasons, often depending on their circumstances and priorities.

Health

This is the most common answer when people are asked why they like to work from home. Eating healthier, being able to go to the gym or to take a walk, taking breaks when they are needed help the employee working from home to relax and relieve the stress; thus, when he/ she is back to work, is more focused and therefore more productive.

Another stress-related factor that disappears when working from home is the commute. Many employees get to work already frustrated after spending precious time getting there. For employees who work far from the office, cutting out the commute can make a world of difference for their stress and overall health.

Parents

The parents represent one common group that chooses to work from home instead of other benefits.

Working at home allows parents to be a part of their children's routines throughout the day; not just early mornings, evenings, and weekends. Working from home, parents can take a lunch break with the toddler, hear all the day's news when they get home from school, and so much more. Of course, working from home parents don't have unlimited time with their kids, but they do have more frequent opportunities to be with their children. Working from home also saves money on childcare costs for children who are not yet school age.

Money

There has been a lot of discussion in the flexible job market about how working from home will save money. According to flexijobs.com, the average person can save at least about $4,000 per year by working remotely, by eliminating the costs with:

  • gas consumption;
  • car maintenance;
  • dry cleaning and laundering;
  • lunches & coffees;
  • office wardrobe;
  • tax.

Benefits for the employers

Besides being an effective talent recruiting and retention tool, letting employees work from home can save employers money in myriad ways.

Increased productivity

Employees working from home have greater autonomy, face fewer interruptions with useless meetings and other time wasters and they can focus on their work.

They 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 the quality of work and productivity, which benefits the business in terms of bottom-line earnings.

Reduced costs

The advantages of working from home can be easily observed in the office-related cost reductions. The company providing work from home for its employees is cutting the costs with office spaces, rents, office supplies, utilities, snacks, IT equipment.

Hiring the best, no matter where they are located

Opening the talent pool seems to be one of the biggest employer benefits when it comes to working from home policy. Allowing employees to work from home, a company can hire the best of the best while not limiting by geographical restrictions.

Increased job satisfaction and reduced turnover

This helps companies cultivate long-term staff that develops an increasing degree of knowledge about your business. Greater employee loyalty also means less time and money spent advertising for open positions, screening, interviewing and hiring new staffers and bringing them up to speed on job responsibilities.

Working from home makes employees happier. Happy employees don’t quit. Simple logic.

Environmental impact

Employees who work from home often communicate with colleagues and managers via email, telephone, and videoconferences, reducing paper consumption.

Conducting virtual meetings and facilitating communication electronically helps protect the environment through reduced automobile emissions. This helps the environment and can allow you to position your business as a good corporate steward.

The future of working from home

Today’s companies have the opportunity to build the future we want to work in. This is a future with a calmer, more balanced, and more fulfilling way to work and live. This is a future with work from home.

Technology allows us to work from wherever we want. We can log on to computers from a home office or coffee shop anywhere in the world, as long as we have an internet connection. And, despite some resistance to a new mode of work where teams are distributed, more companies are opting out of a traditional central office and building teams working from home.

Now that teams have advanced tools like team communication apps, video chat, and project management software, team members can work together regardless of their location. As a result, companies can tap into talent pools around the world and employees can work from wherever they desire without having to relocate to expensive metropolitan areas.

Technological innovation and globalization enable citizens across the world to acquire in-demand skills and work anywhere. Not only do people have access to education through the rise of online learning, but they can also connect with others virtually once they are in the workplace.

As technology becomes more and more advanced, it’s also evolved to specifically meet the needs of workers from home. By 2020, it is expected that 50% of the workforce will be working remotely. Innovation in the space, particularly in cloud infrastructure, has led to major advancements in communication, finance, project management, and much more.

In 2019, Buffer found that 99% of existing remote workers would like to work remotely, at least some of the time, in their careers. Many cited a flexible schedule (40%) as the biggest benefit to remote work, followed by the ability to work from any location (30%).

Working from home is a competitive advantage. That’s because it’s often synonymous with better work-life balance, which leads to happier and healthier teams. Additionally, remote companies can hire the best possible talent they can find without restrictions on geography.

Work from home is skyrocketing, so that now it has its own global day on the 10th of April. This day is a celebration of working from home (wherever home happens to be) for employers and employees around the world.

So, Happy Work from Home Day and Welcome to the Future!

And if your boss is on the fence, here’s a compelling case study — from Nicholas Bloom, the William Eberle Professor of Economics at Stanford University — to show.




Statistics you need to know

Working from home is becoming more and more popular among employers and workers. Both groups decide to choose to work from home based on common grounds: financial reasons. On one side, the employers want to reduce costs with offices, utilities, furniture, rents and everything that comes with a working place. On the other side, workers want to spend less time and money on fuel or while commuting.

People working from home want to be seen better than those working in the office to justify their flexible arrangements, they are more productive, get more done, worked longer hours, took fewer breaks, and use fewer sick leaves.

Digging deeper into work from home statistics we found out that:

Employees working from home are more productive

According to a survey by Polycom. Inc, 98% of respondent’s state that anywhere working has a positive impact on productivity. Those who work remotely at least once per month are 24% more likely to be happy and productive than the others are. Two-thirds of managers' report that employees who work from home increase their overall productivity.

Even more, 66% of employees say they are most productive when they work alone — far from distractions like inefficient meetings, office gossip, or loud office spaces.

Companies that allow working from home have 25% lower employee turnover

Remote work statistics indicate employees are more dedicated to companies that allow them the freedom to work from home. This is becoming extremely important as connectivity and the abundance of choice leads to high turnover rates.

People have many more options than they did a few decades ago when it was common to work one job for your whole career. As such, it is no surprise that businesses need to offer improved working conditions to ensure employees stay loyal.

94% of remote workers encourage others to work remotely

Research shows that once you start working remotely, you do not look back. Indeed, Buffer found that 90% of respondents who work remotely would not return to office life. Statistics like this show the overwhelming feeling of freedom remote workers enjoy, and the appreciation they have for the companies that offer it to them.

54% of people would move to a different company if it gave them greater flexibility at work

Statistics on working from home point to rising demand for flexibility when it comes to working conditions. For the first time ever, the majority of people are willing to change jobs for just this reason. Companies need to keep up with this demand by offering conditions that suit their workers.

18% of people around the world work from home

The State of Remote Work 2017 research on working from home found that 65% of respondents who don’t work remotely today would like to work remotely at least once per month. These figures also highlight a slight inequality between the genders, with men more likely to work remotely than women do.

Globally, South America leads the way when it comes to working from home. South American workers are 67% more likely than the global average to work full-time remote jobs.

68% of millennials would give up other work benefits for a more flexible schedule

If you’re looking to bring in a bright, new class of recently graduated candidates, consider opening up your benefits to include work from home flexibility.

According to the 2015 AfterCollege Annual Survey, 68% of millennial job seekers said a work from home option would greatly influence their interest in working for a company. In fact, out of all the benefits that make a work environment fun, casual, and flexible (regular social activities, casual dress code, free snacks, and drinks, etc.), working from home benefits were the most important to young job seekers.

75% of people choose to work from home as there are fewer distractions

FlexJobs Annual Survey discovered that distracting conditions at the office are the main reason why people choose to work from home. Of those who work remotely, 74% said that the coworkers distract them. Even when they are not directly bothering you, coworkers still add to the overall noise in the office.

21% of people are willing to give up their vacations to get more flexible hours

This is one of the workings from home stats that show just how much workers desire flexibility. More than a fifth of people surveyed said that they would sacrifice their vacation time in exchange for flexible work conditions. What’s more, 28% would accept a pay cut of 10% to 20% to work remotely, while 17% value flexible work more than employer-match retirement contributions.

76% of people say they would feel a greater sense of loyalty for their job / company if the working hours were flexible

Working from home flexibility has a big impact on the morale and loyalty of workers, as most surveyed respondents confirm. 97% of people say they would love to have a flexible working plan. This indicates that companies with strict working conditions risk losing talent and getting left behind as the business world becomes more flexible.

86% of people feel that working from home would reduce stress

Stress is the plague of the modern world, especially in big cities filled with noise and congested traffic. It is no wonder, then, that the vast majority of people feel that working from home or away from the office reduces stress and improves their general health.

In the same survey, 77% of respondents also said working remotely today would help them get more exercise, maintain a healthier diet, and generally lead a better life.

The number of people who work from home has increased by 140 % since 2005

Major technological advances over the past decade have caused a massive shift toward digitized jobs with tasks that only require access to a computer and an internet connection.

This has made remote work a reality for an increasing number of people around the globe. The statistics show that full-time employees are four times more likely to be offered the option to work remotely than part-time workers.

Telecommuting has increased by 22% between 2017 and 2018

The study into the benefits of working from home found that telecommuting is the most sought-after flexible work arrangement, closely followed by flexible scheduling. Almost all people surveyed (97%) said they were interested in working flexibly in the long term, while 83% said they know at least one person who already telecommutes.

74% of the employees would leave their jobs if offered more flexible options elsewhere

People are now more informed and willing to quit their jobs than ever before. According to a research, from 2017, 74% of employees would quit their work for a different organization that allows them to work remotely more often, even if their salary stayed the same. This means that for the first time in a long while, workers are actually influencing change on a large scale and leading companies to offer more flexible work options. If these businesses refuse the wishes of workers who want to work from home, they risk much higher turnover rates.

Small companies are twice as likely to hire full-time work from home employees

Small businesses prefer to hire full-time remote workers mainly for their own convenience. Not having to invest in office space, pay electricity bills, and buy hardware makes hiring remote employees much more profitable in the long run. Of all the industries surveyed, sales employers lead the way in hiring remote workers.

83% of employees feel they don’t need an office to be productive

The “work from home” approach is now a hit between both employers and employees, as an increasing number of people view remote work as a net positive for their productivity. While there are certainly some drawbacks to working from home, it is obvious that most workers don’t feel the need to go to an office to be productive. In fact, according to Workforce Futures: The Role of People in the Future of Work, 83% of employees believe they don't need to be in the office to be productive.

63% of employees believe that the eight-hour workday will disappear

As the way we think about work changes, so will long-standing practices like the standard eight-hour workday. As stated in the research conducted by PwC US, more than a half of the participants think that the eight-hour workday will disappear. Additionally, people in digital industries who work from home are already pushing for shorter workdays. Working from home statistics indicate that this could be the next big effect of technology, allowing for even more freedom and flexibility in how workers organize their precious time.

21% of remote workers cite loneliness as the biggest drawback from working from home

While working from home has many benefits, it’s not without its drawbacks, either. 

Working from home statistics show that difficulties communicating with colleagues are also a major struggle for 21% of workers, followed by distractions at home (16%). Other notable issues include the struggle to stay motivated and problems working across different time zones.

Wrapping up

Of course, there are other types of leave of absence options beside those presented in this guide that you can offer to your employees, but at the end of day, it is very important that your company’s goals meet the employee’s need.

While employee absence can have huge impacts on a business, and despite an employer’s best efforts at minimizing the time employees spend away from work, life happens, and it is inevitable that employees will find themselves in circumstances that require them to take some time off work.

Knowing the situations when you are required to grant your employees a leave of absence not only helps to keep your employees loyal, happy and productive, it can also keep you from finding yourself and your company facing costly legal suits for not complying with regulations pertaining to employee leave of absence.

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