Should Businesses Allow Employees to Work from Home?

May 6, 2007

You can tell from our manager’s email below my department’s stance on tele-commuting:

“Since I have received some questions concerning the email below, I wanted to clear up any misunderstandings concerning the reference to working from home. Scott was out of the office ill on Wednesday and he took this as a sick day. While he may have elected to participate in a conference call or to perform work while at home, we do not expect nor plan for anyone to work from home in lieu of coming in to the office to perform their work.”

We do have VPN access from home but as the email alludes to, it is so we can perform extra work after hours, not work from home instead of coming into the office.

It’s interesting because my company also has offices in California and many people there tele-commute, especially on Fridays. However, here in the Midwest there is a strict no working from home policy. I think the people on the West Coast have more leeway due to higher gas prices and horrible traffic.

I think the ability to tele-commute one or two days a week would raise employee morale/job satisfaction and wouldn’t hamper our productivity but the rules say no go.

Does your employer allow you to work from home? If so, what part of the country and what industry are you in? If you work from home, do you find yourself being less productive at home than at work?


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Ben Edwards, the founder of Money Smart Life, saved up enough to buy a Nintendo back when he was 12 years old. When he used the money to buy shares of Wal-Mart stock instead, he knew he wasn't like the other kids... His addiction to personal finance has paid off for his family and now he's helping you to afford the life that you want. Check him out on the web at Google Plus, Twitter and Facebook.

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14 Responses to Should Businesses Allow Employees to Work from Home?

  • Nospingirl

    How much money does an employer save per hour having employees work from home as opposed to working inhouse? Does anyone out there know?

  • Anonymous

    I work for a small business and my boss has asked me to work from home with my personal computer and equipment. Should I ask for additional compensation other than my salary

  • ispf

    I work for a big corp, and my role is developing s/w. Here, in the Austin branch, working from home is allowed. However, I have noticed that the only folks who take advantage of this are those whose families are *not* in Austin. Every month they work from home for a week or so, so they can spend some time with their families. The rest of the month they are all here.

    I think the reason why people prefer not to work from home is that (a) our group is fairly new (b) everyone want “visibility” and (c) some times it is necessary to be in the lab physically.

  • Art Dinkin

    When my wife was pregnant with our second child, we decided it was no longer worth it for her to keep working. After daycare expenses and taxes, the remaining income was no longer significant to us. So she told her employer that she would either leave or she would only come the office 3 days a week. She kept the same responsibilities but two days a week she works from home while parenting.

    It has only been a few weeks since she has come off maternity leave, but so far that arrangement is working out well.

  • Ben

    Sounds from this small sampling that my hunch may be true about California. Both Lazy Man & Chicky had more lax telecommuting rules out West.

    I agree that there could be potential distractions at home but for people who are able to stay focused I think they could actually be more productive at home. No one stopping by the cube with annoying questions or additional requests.

    I couldn’t do my job from home 5 days a week but one or two would be awesome, maybe I should move to California.

  • Lazy Man and Money

    I work for a small company in California and it seems like there’s just a culture that makes working at home more common. I don’t know if your company allows it because of gas or traffic, but it could very well be that if they don’t, the employees will go work for someone else who is offering the perk.

  • Q at $1 Million to My Name

    VPN makes it all possible. I had a laptop at a previous job – on the last day of the month, I would run month-end reports from bed at home. Nice!

    I have to say that I would have a difficult time motivating myself if I worked from home. Parts of my job also involve interaction with fellow employees. It’s just not an option for me at this time.

  • MyOwnMillions

    I’m a sales person and chose to work at the office. There are things that just cannot be done outside of work.

    There are people that works from home though (all sales people). Everyone else works in the office.

  • broknowrchlatr

    I am on the other side of the situation. My boss is in another state and allows me to set the policy for my team. I run a development team int he midwest. I like to be able to quickly bounce ideas off the team as do they. I designated that on Thurdsays, we can work from home. But, if there is a big meeting or soemthing, everyong has to be in the office.

    If there is bad weather that would slow the drive in to work, I call them up and say that they can work from home. The reason I do not allow more of it is that, frankly, the team performs better in the office. They don’t slack off at home (that I know of) but the performance is just not as good.

  • Jeremy

    It is funny, at my employer I am actually labeled as a “work at home” employee, yet the policy is to not regularly allow work from home. Like you, they give us a laptop and VPN, but it is more or less to be able to work while off-site, not just at home.

    It is strange because I don’t even have co-workers or a company office to use. I’m primarily stationed at the company we provide our services for and they are gracious enough to provide me an empty office to work in. Our home office is in New York, over 1500 miles away and I only get to meet with my superiors once or twice a year.

    I could do 90% of my job from anywhere with an internet connection and my laptop, but there is one key component that I couldn’t do, and that is meeting with their employees face to face for meetings and holding my regular retirement seminars. But aside from that I really wish I could spend more time working from home and just route phone calls to my cell.

    Ahh well, I can’t complain. It just sucks driving all the way into “work” when there are no appointments or anything on the books and I could do everything just as easily from home.

  • Chicky

    I work from home full time for a major IT company. I started with the company in California, and worked from home a couple of days a week. I then decided to move back to the midwest and explained this to my boss, who allowed me to stay with the company by telecommuting full time. I am now 2,500 miles from my company home office. There are challenges with working from home, but nothing as bad as working in the office, in my opinion. I will stay with this company as long as possible (or reasonable) because of this alone.

  • Ben

    Bryan, it doesn’t have as much to do with trust as it does company policy.

    I’ve worked with him for 7 years, he knows I get the job done. The problem is that the “corporate policy” says no telecommuting so he enforces it.

    I bet if I worked for a smaller company they would be more flexible about working from home.

  • Bryan C. Fleming


    Sounds like a great place to work…LOL

    *IF* it were me, I’d go find somewhere that trusts you enough to work from home. Really you should be doing your job so well, there is no question that you would be WORKING while at home.

    In my field, software developement you tyically need to work at home to get undistrubed time. Anyone employer that knows the first thing about software development understands this so it’s not a problem.

    I’d find a new job 😉

    – Byan

  • junger

    My employer does let us work at home – to a degree. Obviously, we always have to be available and can’t take it for granted.

    Since I work in the Web business, there’s nothing I physically need in the office, so having the ability to work at home when necessary is a plus.