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Working from home: Do you have what it takes, or not?

Working from home is an increasingly popular move for companies and can save brands and freelancers money alike, but not everyone is cut out for it.

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Working from home is increasingly common

With 34 million people in the United States working from home, it is clear that communication technologies have opened up new options for telecommuting. Most telecommuters work from their own homes, connecting via the internet to the company’s network. It is estimated that by 2016, the number of workers telecommuting will nearly double. It is easy to see why: telecommuting benefits both the company and the employee.

NeedaOffice, an office supply company, offers a handy for describing some of the pros and cons of work-from-home programs. According to their surveys, 66 percent of workers would telecommute, given the choice, and another 36 percent would choose a work-from-home option over a pay raise. Telecommuting obviously reduces or eliminates time spent sitting in traffic on the way to work. It also allows employees to be more involved in caring for their children and elderly loved ones, and it is easier to schedule appointments without taking a full day off of work.

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Many telecommuters also report that working from home allows them to be more independent and creative, and that they are more satisfied with their jobs. In fact, 95 percent of surveyed employers say that telecommuiting “has had a high impact on employee retention” – indicating that their telecommuting employees are highly satisfied with their work arrangement and tend to stick with it.

Working from home can be good for businesses, too

Telecommuting is great for businesses as well. It saves money and increases productivity. Allowing employees to work from home decreases the frequency of unscheduled no-shows, which cost US businesses about $300 billion per year. When in-office employees call in sick, an estimated 78 percent of them are in fact, not sick, but simply need some time to attend to needs at home or unwind from all of the stress. The scheduling flexibility of telecommuting allows employees the opportunity to deal with their home and personal lives without missing as much work. Just sparing employees the commute alone increases productivity, as about 60 percent of the time saved on commuting is used to complete more work.

Many major companies, especially tech companies like IBM, Dell, Apple, Amazon, and Adobe, have a work-from-home option, and report positive results. AT&T says that their telecommuters, on average, work for five more hours than their office workers. American Express reports that teleworkers generate 43 percent more work than their in-office counterparts. Even the federal government has employees working from home, and apparently saved $30 million when a blizzard kept workers trapped at home last winter.

So, is working from home a viable option for you, or for your small businesses? The benefits are clear, but be sure to hire teleworkers who are tech savvy, self-motivated, and good at managing their time.

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Ellen Vessels, a Staff Writer at The American Genius, is respected for their wide range of work, with a focus on generational marketing and business trends. Ellen is also a performance artist when not writing, and has a passion for sustainability, social justice, and the arts.

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5 Comments

5 Comments

  1. Chris Shouse

    July 11, 2015 at 10:42 am

    Continental Airlines..(oops slip of the tongue) has all but eliminated reservation centers by having people answer calls from home. I know my former colleagues from Utah prefer this situation. However what is missing is the social environment and actual interaction with people outside your home.

    • Lani Rosales

      July 12, 2015 at 11:36 am

      I think this is why Starbucks is doing so well all day (remote workers), and coworking spaces are finally thriving, don't you?

  2. Laurie Hurley

    July 13, 2015 at 11:04 am

    I have worked from home for 17 years and love it. I am productive, have become very disciplined, and have had the opportunity to never miss a soccer match or doctor's appointment with my two daughters. Now that they are 17 and 20, even if I was offered an office job, I would not take it. I balance the lack of social interaction on a daily basis by making sure I go to local networking functions. Thanks for sharing this. Good stuff.

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  4. Pingback: Top Rated Moms Jobs

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Is insecurity the root of overworking in today’s workforce?

(CAREER) Why are professionals who “made it” in their field still chronically overworked? Why are people still glorifying a lack of sleep in the name of the hustle?!

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So you got that job you wanted after prepping for months, and everything seems cool and good… but you’re working way more hours than scheduled. Skipping lunch, coming in early and staying late, and picking up any project that comes your way. You’re overworked.

Getting the job was supposed to be a mark of success in itself, but now, work is your life and everyone is wondering how you can be working so much if you’re already successful.

In an article for Harvard Business Review, Laura Empson delves into what drives employees to overwork themselves. Empson is a professor of Management of Professional Service firms at the University of London, and has spend the last 25 years researching business practices.

Her recently published book Leading Professionals: Power, Politics and Prima Donnas, focuses on business organizational theory and behavior, based on 500 interviews with senior professionals in the world’s largest organizations.

Over the course of her research, Empson encountered numerous reports of people in white-collar positions pushing themselves to work exhausting hours. Decades ago, those with white-collar jobs in law firms, accountancy firms, and management consultancies worked towards senior management positions to gain partnership.

Once partnership was reached, all the hard work paid off in the form of autonomy and flexibility with scheduling and projects. Now, even entry-level employees are working overextended hours.

An HR director interviewed by Empson noted, “The rest of the firm sees the senior people working these hours and emulates them.” There’s a drive to mirror upper management, even at the cost of health.

Empson’s research indicates insecurity is the root of this behavior. Insecurity about when work is really done, how management will perceive employees, and what counts as hard work. Intangible knowledge work provokes insecurity since there’s rarely ever a way to tell when this work is complete.

Colleagues turn into competitors, and suddenly working outside of your regular hours becomes seen as normal if you want to keep up with the competition. You want to stand out from the crowd, so staying late a few days a week starts to feel normal.

This can turn into a slippery slope, and when being overworked feels like the norm, you may not notice taking on even more extra hours and responsibilities to feel like you’re contributing efficiently to the company.

During her research, Empson found that some recruiters admitted to hiring “insecure overachievers” for their firms.

Insecure overachievers are incredibly ambitious and motivated, but driven by feelings of inadequacy. Financial insecurity and disproportionately tying self-worth to productivity are just a few contributing factors to their self-doubt.

As a result, these kind of people are amazingly self-disciplined, and likely to pursue elite positions with professional organizations. Fear of being exposed as inadequate drives insecure employees to work long hours to prove themselves

Even upper level management is subject to this same insecurity.

Organizational pressures can make even the most established leader overwork themselves.

Empson notes, “Working hard can be rewarding and exhilarating. But consider how you are living. Recognize when you are driving yourself and your staff too hard, and learn how to help yourself and your colleagues to step back from the brink.“

Analyze your organization’s conscious and unconscious messaging about achievement, and make sure you’re setting and enforcing realistic expectations for your team.

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The most common buzzwords (still) used in job descriptions

(BUSINESS) Employers are trying their best to attract really high quality talent, but the buzzwords that continue to plague the process are lame, annoying, and often insulting.

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It’s that time of year again. Year-in-review lists abound and Indeed.com is no exception. The website for employers and potential employees has taken a look back at the year in job descriptions and released its list of the weirdest job titles used in online listings.

They found the usual suspects — yes, sadly rockstar and hero still make the cut — but a few other keywords skyrocketed up the charts in 2018.

Indeed recognized seven top-performing buzzwords in its research: genius, guru, hero, ninja, superhero, rockstar, and wizard. Among these Top 7, some were up over previous years, while others’ popularity seems to be fading.

Employers really loved referencing masked assassins in their descriptions this year, resulting in a 90 percent year-over-year jump for ninja, and a 140 percent increase for the term since Indeed began tracking these stats in 2015.

Wizards and heroes didn’t fare as well. Job titles containing “wizard” were down 17 percent from 2017 and use of the word “hero” was down a whopping 44 percent since last year. Superhero ended the year up over 2017 (19 percent), but is still down by 55 percent since 2015.

So which states are touting these weird (some might say annoying) titles the most? The answers aren’t too surprising. California tops the list for ninja, genius, rockstar, wizard, and guru. Texas, whose capital is Austin, aka Silicon Hills, loves using hero, superhero, guru, rockstar, and ninja. Populous states New York and Florida make the list for using several of the buzzwords — no surprise there. But a few smaller states snuck into the Top 4, including Ohio (No. 1 “superhero” user) and Utah (No. 4 on the “rockstar” and “wizard” lists).

While many companies like to use these so-called creative terms to convey a sense of a hip and cool company culture, does using these “fun” titles actually find the best candidates? According to Indeed, the answer might be “not exactly.” Job seekers aren’t necessarily searching for terms like ninja or guru, so they might not even find the job they would be the perfect fit for. And truth be told, many experienced job seekers are turned off by these weird titles and might not even apply to the job in the first place.

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Half of the jobs Amazon will offer at their new headquarters won’t be tech

(BUSINESS NEWS) As Amazon begins laying solid plans to start hiring, some are upset that half of the new jobs won’t be tech jobs – let’s discuss why.

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As 2019 gears up, one of the biggest tech stories of 2018 will carry into this year, and that’s Amazon HQ. Amazon’s two new headquarters in Crystal City, Virginia and Long Island City, New York have promised about 50,000 new jobs coming in 2019 according to Engadget and the Wall Street Journal.

The catch? Only half of those jobs will be in tech. Some are upset about this, so we’ll explain:

Naturally, a behemoth like Amazon has many moving parts and these two facilities will require different roles to keep the company functioning. An estimated 25,000 jobs will be in support roles like administration, marketing, finance, maintenance, and human resources. For the cities they’ll occupy, this means there will be more than one way to find employment besides tech or IT.

It’s undeniable that Amazon’s $5 billion investment will vastly change these two communities. Employment opportunities can bring growth for residents, however it will depend upon the company’s ability to hire local. Likewise, Amazon’s presence will draw city transplants, a tactic that historically raises property values and living costs (looking at you, Seattle).

Crystal City is expected to see a huge influx in traffic and housing, according to The Washington Post. Although the state has promised to allocate resources into transportation, and Amazon assures a slow growth at first, thousands of workers will need accommodation.

For Long Island City, a community who’s already transforming from industrial yards to a blooming arts neighborhood, we will likely see its gentrification reach new heights. LIC is set to become the digital-lifestyle relative across the river from its cousin, Manhattan.

In any case, residents can hope to take advantage of the varying positions that will need filling in 2019.

However, everyone should brace for change as this corporate beast gradually awakens.

Whatever the new headquarters will bring, we can expect it to be, in typical Amazon fashion, bold and flashy.

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