Pros & Cons of Telecommuting

Woman working on a laptop computer while sitting on a log outside in the forest.

At Altruic Advisors, many of our staff members work remotely to provide accounting services for nonprofit organizations nationwide. When I began working as a Nonprofit Accounting Assistant, telecommuting was an adjustment after being in an office environment for over ten years. I've found that there are some pros and cons to the remote workplace, both for the employee and for the employer. But ultimately it's all about finding that balance between work and home life- a challenge no matter how you work!

Pros of Telecommuting

  • Staff avoid a long commute, which is more environmentally friendly and saves valuable personal time, stress and travel expenses. By eliminating commutes, staff can be more productive with their time instead of sitting in traffic. Staff will also be able to work during bad weather or other transportation difficulties, which keeps the organization running smoothly.

  • When staff members are able to achieve a better work/life balance, employers often see an improved retention rate. Employers can use telecommuting as a recruiting tool, and higher retention rates lower overall recruiting costs.

  • Telecommuting allows smaller companies to establish a broader geographic reach and serve more clients.

  • Employers can see direct cost savings in overhead expenses such as office space, utilities, supplies, and other operational costs.

  • Employees have more flexible working hours. This may lead to fewer sick days (since many telecommuting staff will be more inclined to keep working from the comfort of home when they feel a little "under the weather"), and can also reduce full-day absences for non-work events that take only a few hours.

  • Remote employees feel empowered and trusted – and thus are motivated to take more proactive steps that benefit the company.

Cons of Telecommuting

  • Employees may feel isolated from their coworkers. (In my case, I have never even met some of my coworkers in person!)

  • Employees may find it difficult to focus because they’d rather be outside or doing chores around the house. Remote workers have to be self-motivated and dedicated to their work hours.

  • Telecommuting is different from working in the traditional office environment where you can easily brainstorm with peers when encountering problems. You will need to develop different ways of reaching out to your coworkers.

  • It can be difficult to accurately track employees’ working hours, and some employers may face up-front costs to provide the necessary equipment to work from home.

  • Employers may find it difficult to keep everyone on the same page with projects, unless they have a successful office solution in place for these collaborative efforts.

Studies have found that telecommuting creates happier employees and reduces stress. But it's not for everyone. You need to decide if teleworking is right for you. Workers don’t always operate well in isolation, and extroverts may prefer a traditional office environment. What’s ideal for one person isn’t the same for another. If you choose to work at home it can be a highly rewarding experience, and with the right time-management skills you can excel both personally and professionally.