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The Unconventional Guide to Work

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The Pros and Cons of Telecommuting for Agency Professionals

TelecommutingAs an agency professional living in today’s tech-savvy, cloud-based wonderland, working from home has become easier than ever.

According to a recent study by Stanford University, the number of employees who primarily work from home “has more than tripled over the past 30 years.”

But one question remains: Is working remotely a good option for your agency? To help you decide, we’ve compiled a list of pros and cons associated with telecommuting.

Three Pros of Telecommuting

1. Your agency can better attract and retain top talent.

Your agency culture helps you attract (and keep) top talent, so find ways to continuously improve it. For instance, a flexible work structure leads to happier, and more loyal employees. It also enables you to widen your recruitment search to other markets, and helps you attract incredible employees who may not be willing to relocate.

2. Your agency can save money.

Employees who work remotely save money—but so do business owners.

If you’re cutting your commute down to zero minutes every day, you’re saving money on items such as gas, fancy-pants work clothes and parking fees. Plus, (from a business perspective) with less people needed in the office setting, business owners save money on office space, building maintenance, furniture, and other office supplies.

3. Employees may be more productive.

Studies have found that employees who work remotely are more productive, and work longer hours than employees who work from an office setting. While working remotely isn’t the best fit for every personality, it’s hard to argue with science.

Three Cons of Telecommuting

1. Creativity may suffer based on lack of collaboration.

Research has found that creativity is often sparked by unexpected conversations. However, when employees work remotely, they are robbed of these collaborative occurrences. In an agency setting, this lack of collaboration could be a major disservice to your company—and to your clients.

2. Employees may feel left out.

As this Wall Street Journal article explains, “The keg is becoming the new water cooler.” Sounds awesome, right? It is.

Over the past few years, it has become increasingly more common for creative agencies to offer alcoholic beverages to employees. This “happy hour” concept helps improve company culture and increase collaboration—yet employees who work remotely often miss out on the festivities.

3. Employees may encounter distractions.

A survey conducted by Wakefield Research found that 43 percent of American workers who telecommute admitted to watching TV or a movie while at home. The same survey found that 20 percent play video games and 35 percent do household chores. While the sample of the survey size was relatively low (1,013 office workers), the findings are pretty eye-opening (and jaw-dropping).

If you’re considering adopting a flexible work structure for your agency, here are a few tips to help the transition run as smoothly as possible:

  • Utilize cloud-based systems as much as possible. Here is a great example of how one company successfully manages projects remotely.
  • Establish clear guidelines that your employees must agree to before setting them free. Consider any issues that may arise (such as attending agency meetings, availability on chat technologies, and responding to client communications during regular business hours), and the corresponding penalties when developing your guidelines.
  • Stay organized. Create a shared calendar (such as a Google calendar, or a Google doc) to keep track of which employees will be working remotely each week. This helps keep your agency organized, and prevent too many people from being out of the office at the same time.
  • Talk face-to-face, even from afar. There are tons of great options to video chat with your team and maintain collaboration while working remotely—plus some are even free. At WorkflowMax, we’ve used (and loved) Google Hangouts, Skype, and GoToMeeting.

For more information about working remotely, check out these other (awesome) resources:

Does your company offer employees the option to work remotely? How has this option benefited (or harmed) your agency culture?

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Image Source: Garfield Anderssen via Flickr Creative Commons