Working From Home – It’s For Everybody, Right?

Posted On December 13, 2016

Who among us wouldn’t love to work from home? No unwelcome interruptions from overly chatty co-workers. Unlimited refills from our own refrigerator and snacks from our own cupboard. Background music of our own choosing and as loud as we like. And, perhaps best of all, no dress requirements.

While working from home may seem like a millennial invention, its rise is really just a product of the technology that’s been developed during the millennials’ entrance into the workplace. With the internet, remote messaging systems and cloud technology, there’s often little reason for all of a company’s employees to be under the same roof.

Forbes recently cited a Global Workplace Analytics study which found that half of all American workers are in jobs that could be done at least partially from home, and Bureau of Labor Statistics data showing that about 24 percent of the U.S. workplace actually does at least some of its work from home, up from 19 percent in 2003.

Forbes contributor Kaytie Zimmerman notes, also, that not only is working from home not a millennial invention, millennials don’t even prefer it as much as older generations do. Zimmerman cites a PwC NextGen study that slightly more Gen-Xers and Baby Boomers (66 percent) would like to work from home than millennials (64 percent).

While that may sound weird, consider first that many of the benefits of working from home that millennials might find attractive are also a bonus for older employees. Pretty much everyone would prefer not to have to put on a tie or heels, if they didn’t have to. And the flexibility of working from home is a huge plus for Gen-Xers trying to manage their kids’ schedules as well as their own workdays.

But there are some aspects of a traditional office setting that many millennials find desirable as well. USA TODAY two years ago cited a study finding that a majority of millennials craved more interpersonal interaction and collaboration in their jobs and less reliance on remote communication.

While they have grown up with the technology necessary to work from anywhere, millennials understand just as well as their older counterparts the value of face-to-face communication, one-on-one mentoring and even the social aspect of a workplace.

The real value of the ability to work from home is in terms of flexibility. Life throws curveballs like bad weather, daycare issues, car trouble and sick kids. If we have the flexibility to work from home, those curveballs are more easily dodged. That ultimately helps a company’s productivity, as well, with fewer absences.

Zimmerman notes that companies like PwC, SAP and Dell are offering flexible working arrangements for their employees and are using those options as a recruitment tool for attracting new talent.

Whether you prefer to work at an office or your dining room table, it’s always good to have options – no matter your age.

Categories: Generation Y / Millennials, Workplace