The Network, Inc. DevLabs

Telecommuting - Gaining Efficiency While Improving Morale

Many companies fail to realize the benefits of working remotely. Sure, it lowers the carbon footprint by not wasting energy and creating pollution with transporation, you no longer need the same amount of space to host everyone in the office, but there are many other benefits that will follow as well. It wasn’t until remote working was part of our every day working environment that we were able to recognize the full benefits of telecommuting. When remote working is something you do once in a while, you end up with a lot of time wasted trying to get your environment working again; fighting with the VPN; getting your source code updated, compiling, or running on your remote working machine; or even clearing your space because it became a collect-all while you weren’t using it. Another factor is that you never make it a priority to optimize your home working environment, so patterns of home life also intrude on your ability to be productive.

##Setting Up Your Optimal Environment

When you make the switch to work from home, commit to doing that. Clear a space in your house and make that your office. It is easy to keep a work area usable when you use it every day. I use the guest room in our home. When guests come to visit, I have another desk in another part of the house that is my temporary office, but that is just what works for me. To curb the distractions, your office should be able to be closed off from the rest of the house and other distractions. This doubles as giving you the ability to walk away from work for a break without work intruding on all areas of your home life as well. I find that it is also best, when possible, to locate your office somewhere other than the bedroom you sleep in (for some reason, either the mind wants to sleep when it is time for work, or it wants to work when it is time for sleep, which can lead to sleeping disorders and other bad things).

##Higher Productivity, Especially When Pairing or Collaborating

With high speed internet available in nearly all metropolitan areas, desktop sharing and video conferencing make collaborating easy. As a software developer, when pairing up to solve a problem, one person is at the keyboard typing and the other person is watching and coaching along. When remotely collaborating (each worker needs 2 monitors, one for sharing, the other for everything else), each person can follow along and look things up online at the same time. I can actually have my partner look things up and share it while I’m filling in the portion that I know, then complete the difficult section with my partner’s findings when the results are available. This means that we can both be productive at the same time! This makes the learning also interactive instead of just observatory! We can switch the presenter by clicking a button (which is way easier than moving chairs) as often as we need to in order to achieve optimal productivity. Training, pairing, demoing, and collaborating, with the right tools, is so much more effective and efficient when the two (or more) people are separated by distance and connected virtually.

##Decreased Stress, Better Health

Starting the day fighting traffic traveling to the office is damaging to the employee’s psyche. After fighting traffic, one’s mind is no longer clear to think and solve problems that it would’ve been able to tackle more easily when refreshed. Sure, experts may go back and forth on what is healthy, but fighting traffic has only been shown to cause negative health effects for you, the environment, and everyone else. Eliminating this from my morning routine has had a great amount of personal benefits, which in turn help make me a better worker.

##Increased Company Morale and Better Family Life and Understanding

Happy employees work harder and better. They are more likely to stay with the company for the long haul. After fighting traffic getting to the office, working hard and solving problems and dealing with any work related stresses, to then turn around and fight traffic getting home again is the perfect recipe for family strife. Kids are getting tired and agitate easily as the evening ensues. Mother is probably at her wits end from dealing with them all day (or dealing with her own work stress if she is a working mom). Is there any wonder where family conflicts arise from? (Okay, so family strife may still occur, but occurrences no longer stem from the heavy rush hour traffic caused by commuting to and from work everyday).

When I work from home, I can hear how stressful my wife’s day is. When I take breaks, instead of walking around in the office, I’m enjoying my time with my family. When my wife needs a break, she comes up to my office to say hi. Having that extra interaction alleviates a lot of stress on my wife, allows me to actually be there for my family and have a lot more interactions with them as they are growing up. It also reminds me why I chose to marry my wife. Instead of fighting traffic, I now re-focus that energy back to home life stresses, which makes the days so much easier and happier. I generally don’t take more breaks than I did before, but even when I need to, that time is easily made up in the time that I would have been commuting anyway. This is definitely a win-win. Is life perfect? No. It never will be. Is life better? Absolutely.

Under normal work environments when you commute to an office every day, the stresses add up. After a few years, it’s time for a change. Now that I’m working from home, I no longer have those same stresses adding up. I no longer have the desire to find another job that is going to make me face the traffic and reintroduce the extra family stresses that come along with that.

##Telecommuting. It’s good for the environment. It’s good for your family. It’s good for the company. It’s a no-brainer. Still having trouble convincing your employer and have 1337 computer skills? Come work for The Network, a NAVEX Global company!