There are fundamental differences to working from home versus in the office that business leaders must consider, especially today. Many of us are realizing these differences firsthand due to shelter-in-place and stay-at-home orders across the country.
Whether you’re joining the ranks of the remote workforce now or have managed a remote team for years, remember that working from home will be outside of many people’s comfort zones as we redefine the modern work world and prioritize public health and safety.
Fortunately, remote work also comes with a number of advantages and benefits. At first, everything will feel abnormal. However, once it sinks in, team members and leaders alike will realize that each day is about output versus presence. That’s how you can begin to identify a pattern of work that becomes meaningful.
Below, I’ll discuss some of the biggest advantages of working from home. If you’re a business leader managing a newly remote team in 2020, consider these benefits to increase team buy-in and productivity — as well as your own.
You can schedule work on each individual’s terms.
While most of us have to work for a paycheck to afford our homes, food, clothing and more, we still want independence in some form. Working from home allows a set agenda to become far less restricted.
Emphasize that work hours will be based on performance and output, and not on a set time window of 9 to 5. If one of your team members is a night owl, allow them to work when they’re most productive. If someone is an early bird, that’s fine, too. As long as the work gets done, allow your team to set an at-home schedule on their own terms.
Of course, there are risks to consider as well. We all have more distractions at home, so consider this a crash course in personal discipline.
You can be both comfortable and productive.
Another advantage of working from home is that it is often closer to working the way you want and feel most comfortable. You don’t have to work from an uncomfortable cubicle. If you want to kick up the sofa and use the TV as white noise while you work, you can. If you want to listen to music or have your dog or cat nearby to make you feel better, you can.
The details of your at-home workspace fall within your own terms. Granted, you’ll want to use discretion and have a professional-looking room as a backdrop when you have to hop on video conference calls. However, for the most part, your at-home workspace can be whatever feels the most comfortable for you to reach your maximum output.
Social distancing and remote work are putting people to the test. Can we continue to produce as much at home as we did when we were physically in the office? In my experience, many of us are realizing we can do it just fine.
Your commute is the bedroom to the kitchen.
A big plus includes not having to deal with traffic on your commute. Aside from leaving the house for essential errands, such as going to the pharmacy or the grocery store, you no longer have to feel frustrated by formerly inevitable traffic jams. You can sleep in later and see if that has an impact on your productivity when you start work in the mornings.
There may be tax benefits in store.
Believe it or not, you can enjoy tax benefits from working at home. If you’re able to dedicate a room to your work and nothing else, you may be able to claim a home office tax deduction on your income taxes. This could potentially result in sizable savings at the end of the year if telecommuting needs to last for months.
There are two choices for filing this deduction per the IRS: 1) a simple safe-harbor approach based on the square footage of your home office space, and 2) a full-cost method where every expense of your home office is deductible. One pays more than the other, of course, but the safe-harbor approach is far more defendable.
( The information provided here is not tax advice. You should consult with a licensed professional for advice concerning your specific situation.)
Office costs can be reduced.
Business leaders are facing a major disruption, but it could also result in big savings when it comes to being able to utilize a reliable telecommuting labor pool. Facility space can be repurposed and maintenance costs can be reduced; essentially, costs associated with providing a workspace for employees can become savings to be redirected into new operations and additional revenue.
So, consider the positives. Telecommuting in 2020 could be a win-win for you and your team.