Working from home: The benefits and the cost

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Working from home: The benefits and the cost - McCrindle ResearchWorking from home is a key employment alternative for growing businesses offering teleworking solutions, emerging entrepreneurs establishing a customer base, and small business owners seeking to minimise administrative overheads.

What are the key advantages and setbacks involved with working from home? For those seeking to take the plunge or weighing up the options, McCrindle Research has recently analysed the lives of 250 ‘work-from-home’ workers, weighing up the pros and cons of the home office setting.

What do you enjoy most about working from home?

Click here to download the full research summary.


Key enjoyment factors: Flexibility and work-life balance


The most significant advantage in working from home for respondents was having the flexibility to juggle other things, reported by almost half (45%) or respondents. Another quarter of respondents felt that in working from home, they were able to create a work-life balance to enjoy life more. 1 in 7 respondents (15%) enjoyed being able to work undistracted from the interruptions present in an office-based working environment, and a further 1 in 8 (12%) felt that the most significant advantage in working from home was being able to take care of their children.

Other reasons that people chose to work from home included decreased commuter stress, lower travel costs, being able to work in solitude, and being their own boss.

“While those who work from home most love the flexibility and work-life balance that it allows,” says social researcher Mark McCrindle, “For 15%, the biggest benefit was being able to work undistracted. Employers should note that while modern workplaces facilitate social interaction, project teams and meetings, the need to work solo and uninterrupted is keenly felt.


Key advantages explored: Flexibility, decreased commuter stress, increased time with family


When explaining these significant advantages and others in working at home instead of an office based environment, participants elaborated on a number of key themes:

Flexibility in working hours was seen as a key advantage:
“The ability to work all hours and unusual hours, doing other non-work things in the home.”
“The flexibility to work when I can, choosing when I work.”

Having less stress due to commuting to and from work was mentioned numerously:
“Less time spent travelling means I have more time to devote to chores and exercise.”
“I don’t have to deal with traffic congestion and save travel time.”

Spending time with family was seen by others as a great positive:
“I can work around family and other commitments, and am able to take more part in raising my son.”
“I work when I want and have more time with my family, and I can eat lunch at home while seeing
my wife and kids.”


The need for social interaction while working from home


When asked to comment on the difference in social interaction between working in an office-based working environment and working from home, 3 out of 5 respondents (58%) noted that they feel some need for increased social interaction.

While working from home does create the difficulties of social isolation for almost 3 in 5 home-workers, 42% never feel this deficiency: “Even when discussing this lack of interaction it was more in a professional, collegiate sense than a purely social sense. This research highlights that the best workplaces are those that provide the opportunities for collaboration and professional interactions, while ensuring that private work spaces are provided. Employers need to think like an extrovert and an introvert in their workspace provisions,” says McCrindle.


Greatest disadvantages: Isolation, distractions and work-life balance


Respondents were asked to name the most significant disadvantage they face in working from home through an open-ended response.

The biggest negative that workers faced in working from home, reported by 22% of respondents, was professional and social isolation:
“Working on my own and only seeing friends and workmates occasionally.”
“Not having other employees to sound ideas and brainstorm with.”
“I am isolated and lonely at times, and do less networking.”

Maintaining a work-life balance was the most significant difficulty according to 15% of respondents: “[There are] no boundaries between home and work life.”
“[I] can’t relax because I know there is work to do. It’s hard to stop.”
“Being on call – people seem to think you are available at any time, including your days off.”

Household distractions were another common thread, reported as most significant by 14% of respondents:
“[I am] too easily distracted by household tasks.
“[I find it difficult] to get into the mindset of ‘working’ at home without distractions.
“The environment is not conducive to working.”

Other common issues included the access and cost of necessary resources (8%) such as documents and technology, the perception that work from home is not actually work (7%), self-motivation (6%), lower income received (4%) when working from home, and poor communication between home and the office (3%).
“I am unable to access other files and lack access to computer systems.”
“The expense of technology and using more utilities (electricity, internet cost, gas for
heating, water).”
“I am trying to justify that I am actually working; the perception by others is that I’m not.”
“[I lack the] motivation to start each day that I work.”
“My income is lower now that I’m working at home.”
“I’m not finding out what has happened during work.”

Still others (1 in 5, 21%) reported no negative experiences with working from home:
“I have really enjoyed [working from home] and think it is the way of the future.”
“I can’t do it often enough – I have found no negatives.”
“There has been no negative for me personally working from home. If anything, I am far more
productive due to less distraction.”


Unexpected costs: office supplies, electricity bills, and household consumption


While over half of respondents (52%) who had worked from home had never incurred any unexpected costs in doing so, the other half of respondents had. 1 in 3 (30%) respondents spent more on office supplies and technology than working in an office environment, 1 in 4 (25%) had incurred higher electricity bills, and 1 in 6 (16%) noticed an increase in food consumption and home goods.


Workplace health and safety issues


While a number of respondents (75%) did not report encountering any workplace health and safety (WHS) issues in working in a home office environment, others were faced with unique concerns:

The main concern respondents faced was with lack of ergonomics in their home office set-up:
“I generally don’t sit at a proper desk so, while not currently causing any problems,
my posture may cause issues in the future.”
“I don’t have proper desk and chair height, and I stay at the desk too long with bad posture.”

Others felt the weight of responsibility when it came to WHS issues:
“I am totally responsible for the health and safety standards and issues in my home, even when
someone comes uninvited.”

Still others reported not taking appropriate breaks as an issue:
“I don’t take appropriate breaks and I lack sleep, working longer than I would in an office.”

The lack of space and unsuitability of the home working environment were other issues:
“I don’t have enough space to work properly.”
“The electrics in the house are not always the best set-up because I don’t have an office, and
the kids can get under the desk playing with cables.”

“With teleworking a growing phenomenon and working from home a key tool of workplace retention, managers not only need to provide for it, but also effectively manage it,” says McCrindle. “This research reveals challenges along with the benefits, with almost half of Australians who work from home incurring some increased costs, and one in four experiencing some workplace health and safety issues.”

Click here to download the full research summary.

Welcome to our blog...

We have a passion for research that tells a story, that can be presented visually, that brings about change and improves organisations. And we hope these resources help you know the times.

Our Social Media Sites

Facebook | McCrindle Research Social Media YouTube | McCrindle Research Social Media Twitter | McCrindle Research Social Media Flickr | McCrindle Research Social Media Pinterest | McCrindle Research Social Media Google Plus | McCrindle Research Social Media LinkedIn | McCrindle Research Social Media Mark McCrindle Slideshare


Last 150 Articles


Tags

faux-ciliser NSW trend tuesday communicate Gen Y census insight GPO Merry Christmas collaborative criminal investing ACT slideshare buildings 2016 census census 2016 Financial Planning Association finance population map proactive generation dare to dream thrive insights survey design bondi socialising Assistant Store Manager eliane miles households real lalor park employers Northern beaches Event FPA goal grandparents hopes #censusfail learning post rationalism Do It Yourself sydneysiders faux-cilising property market waverton 10 years divorce rate state education future report renter of the future social research brisbane wealth and income distribution marrickville meals award crime coffee investment skills story poker master Crime Rates education sector car keynote click leadership workshop Channel 7 leader Christmas presents cloudy days media product South Australia house transport social media household royal baby conference speaker young people TAS Valentine’s Day group financial independence affordability perth young australians sunburnt country the changing face of ultimo socialites townhouses capital city aged care puzzle results optus statistics teaching manly participants vegemite career trends of 2016 Australia Day 2017 jobs of the future Bathburst medicine high school interactive office holidays technology names WA global financial crisis JOMO Tasmania outsourcing program families innovation Australia Day workplace culture housing affordability repayments new york times national crime rates housing market 2015 omnibus parenting Kirsten Brewer pyrmont cancelling event local communities unemployment menai Melbourne Generation X kate middleton celebration recap long weekend acf15 global forecast income Births change trend national private wealth panel conference low density vegetarian suburbs demographic trends visualisation Royals tips data royal family residents not-for-profit media commentary work mates Geoff Brailey generation Z demographic SA social analysis Australian demographics Population Clock city christian meetings growing population financial dreams Financial Planning Week ageing population 1975 litter relational The Daily Edition pharmacy couple office opening teacher world megatrends employment research visualisation builders resource market research consumerism home owner Social Trend emerging trends Sydney keynote speaker CBD rent narcissism high density states average aussie Queensland: QLD challenge earnings christianity jobs property price entrepreneurial Australian Census learning styles ease of travel learn Wagga Wagga office space internships educhat Word Up social enquiry property easter hornsby society Sydney Queensland crows nest Wellington identity social researchers demographic transformations changing face of sydney Channel Seven social change February 16 Duchess of Cambridge parents school Christmas lunch communities new office 1968 trends analyst Christmas season financial fears organisational culture New Zealand presentation online shopping going out Education Future Forum mccrindle national wealth business sentiments Adelaide responsive ipswich workplace 1994 divorce curiosity Tuesday Trends social commentator thought leadership Christchurch future staying in retirement Res Vis Canberra future of education research pack report New South Wales ageing earn work-life etiquette group session engagement sun sydney hills engage sydneycity mining boom Engineering Manager happiness mythbusting workshop rain sustainable australians staying home more future of work future proof staff newspaper 2014 1980 Australian Families social life New Zeland Wodonga women 23 million future-proof trends teachers Australian Home ferry relevant marriages anzac weekly earnings baby names aged care summer intern royal millenials FOMO NEETs baby name predictions youth house price rise weather infographic innovative ashley mckenzie year 12 wedding Mark McCrindle mentor System's Architect social issues community engagement Northern Beaches focus groups emerging technologies winter blues ABS land of the middle class moderators guide potts point water geomapping owning a home paying to work storytelling millennials 2013 teach generations baby boom father's day contiki SMSF suburban living social lives work follow shopper's pick commuters focus group education future Australian Communities Trends apartment urban taskforce sydney event Territory sydney speaker personalities overcast Tuesday Trend culturally diverse optimistic hobart cost of living workforce pharmacies supply and demand urban living internet wealth distribution consumer daily commute charity Scouts January 26th urban living index mccrindle in the media learner alpha English hello fresh earning high density living Australian schools Gen X school students shifts train home ownership research services future proofing tv shopping NT selfie investor seasons suburb prince george networking infographic wall Generation Y financial future Western Australia easy rider Charlotte year 7 the australian dream schools students blaxland housing growth 2017 travel rich mccrindle research population growth princess charlotte case study increasing densification research salary mateship public speaking in the media entrepreneurs of today Deaths census results McCrindle Speakers personal growth daily telegraph cartodb gender customer fears mover and shaker gen z victoria wellbeing social resilience student baby name trends futurist rise of local cooking media activity high density apartments youth unemployment rising house prices gold coast generational trends authenticity family greatness renting christmas sunny days nfp professional speaker baby commute analysis faux-cilise Caregiver unaffordable students data analyst cancelling plans collaboration moreton bay politics Aussie culture not for profit qualitative research Australian Bureau of Statistics PSI The ABC of XYZ men baby boomers Australian communities goals neutral bay Netflix holiday 2012 ACF 2016 offenders award winner dreaming communications public holiday the average aussie house price google for education events stay home entrepreneur demographics DIY area royal influence teleworking growth child care Australians darwin winter priorities mortgage 24 million Australian Dream tea optus my business awards cancel plans Aussies sector social shifts forum organisations census fail researcher snapshot Financial Planning Association of Australia bureau speakers wolloomooloo define small business village australia logan DESTEL monarchy 24,000,000 wages dessert local demographer communication Northern Territory huffington post life hills shire environment digital energy 2020 domestic education REIV National Conference public speaker media release economy capital cities VIC middle class financial visual generation alpha cultural diversity norwest tuesday Hornsby Shire Council deloitte cold twentyseventeen sydney metro balance IT Specialists church mythbusters australian social research aussie culture entertainment schools 2016 HSC annual income social commentary Real Estate travelling tertiary education professional TDE safe professional development emerging generations cost poor facts university degree Australian Trends quote marketing house prices community Love video mccrindle tea mobile urban marriage social trends the hills budget university Kiwi wage the hills shire EFF baby name healthy future sports friendship conference presentation australian communities trends report wealth brands sector wide study home school satisfaction wealth and income stats equip ideas tattoos research data social researcher Myth experience World Water Day graphs dream mother's day education research spend debt community event publication news list economic australian communities forum "know the times" data visualisation Real Estate Institute of Victoria clothing religion sector wide professional services REIV Conference fresh Northern Beaches Christian School children language toys environmental scanning google careers social impact online rule keeper cash friends brand experience know the times brand cars shbc global generations affordable 40 million housing trends population milestone bus gen alpha population event keynote speaker housing government study Research Executive internship in depth interviews woolworths business index ethnography ashley fell conferences ACF typical australian living presentations non profit volunteers leadership survey debate tableau millionth 2016 census results food lifestyle training motivate plans trends of 2017 world youth day rental stress educated forecasting eliane society trends

Archive