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Companies can save $11,000 a year by letting employees work from home part-time, study finds

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Working from home can pay off in more ways than just avoiding traffic.
Working from home can pay off in more ways than just avoiding traffic. - ()

Odds are that a nearly half of today's workforce has the same thought while sitting in traffic, inhaling fumes and listening to car horns blare.

“I could do this job from home — why suffer through this?”

And the other half? Well, according to a survey by the Society for Human Resource Management, 46 percent of the workforce is already telecommuting.

The odds only increase for millennial workers.

According to SHRM, millennials will comprise almost one-half of the workforce by next year, and 75 percent by 2025.

A two-year study by PwC also found that more than 64 percent of millennials would favor increased flexibility in hours and work-from-home opportunities.

And according to Global Workplace Analytics, 2.8 million self-employed Americans currently work from home, with another 3.3. million workers considering their homes — despite their employers having offices — their primary workspaces.

“Nearly half of the workforce now holds a job that could be performed, at least some of the time, from home or a ‘third place’ such as a coffee shop, library or park bench,” said Kate Lister, president of Global Workplace Analytics, a San Diego-based research firm.

“Nearly 80 percent of employees say they’d like to work at home at least part of the time and a third would take a pay cut for the opportunity.”

Whether you’re a millennial or not, it’s become very clear that the workforce requires greater telecommuting opportunities.

And some articles written by Michael Estrin and Chris Kahn for Bankrate.com give companies more than enough reason to oblige.

Lister said data from Global Workplace Analytics show companies can save:

  • An average of $11,000 per year for every employee who works remotely half the time;
  • About $3,000 per telecommuter by reducing office sizes and utility bills;
  • $5,750 per telecommuter by increasing productivity;
  • $750 per telecommuter by decreasing turnover through increased flexibility and happiness;
  • And $1,100 per telecommuter due to the fact that remote workers are less likely to take days off for being sick.

These numbers also don’t include estimated health care savings, since people who work from home tend to take better care of themselves by making time to exercise and cook.

And in addition to monetary benefits, Lister said, there are also environmental ones — switching commuters to telecommuters helps reduce traffic and greenhouse gas emissions.

But in order for these savings to add up, it’s up to the employee to make the most of working from home — which is where Kahn’s tips come in:

  1. Set a schedule and let your supervisors know which hours you will typically be available throughout the day. If your schedule changes, go ahead and rearrange — as long as you’re still able to complete your assigned tasks. Just make sure you are always available for scheduled video conferences and phone calls.
  2. Get dressed in the morning as if you were working in an office — on a casual Friday. Telecommuters tend to be more productive when they are comfortable, but not too comfortable. There are exceptions to this rule, however — got a video conference? Suit up.
  3. Design a separate workspace to keep focused and on task.
  4. Invest your commute money into reliable cell phone service and fast wireless Internet, as well as making sure your computer is up-to-date with all the necessary applications.
  5. It’s fine to take a break — to bike to a local coffee shop, take a walk around the block, tackle a load of laundry — but keep it minimal. Think of this time as the time you’d normally spend talking around the water cooler.
  6. Have consistent communication with your team. When you’re working at your computer, make sure you can receive email alerts. And when you’re on the road, make sure you’re still available by phone and text.

Most importantly, remember that just because you work from home doesn’t mean you can’t still go into the office — make it a point to do so every now and then for social interaction, important face-time conversations and more.

Lister said the No. 1 complaint and question she hears from employers regarding work-from-home opportunities is, “How will I know they’re working?”

“The counter to that is, ‘How do you know they’re working in the office?’” Lister said.

“Everyone’s seen that crazy-cat-playing-the-piano video — where do you think they saw it?”

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