Everything these days seems to have gone online: marketing, meetings, online billing, customer service, networking and even invoicing.  But a new trend is emerging that may someday evolve into the new norm: working online from home.

According to the Employment Review from Elance reports, the number of businesses seeking to hire independent contractors who work remotely doubled in 2011.  And 83 percent of businesses surveyed said they plan to let half their employees work from home over the next 12 months.

Virtual work is on track to becoming a more than $500 million industry, as the report goes on to explain that 650,000 new jobs were created for people who work remotely from home.

Working from home definitely has its advantages, such as saving money on gas and saving sheer hours of time for people with long commutes.  The idea of requiring massive numbers of people to drive miles every day to do the same task they can do from home is arguably a very inefficient use of resources.

But, working from home also reduces the amount of supervision employers have over their workers, which can consequently reduce accountability for getting the job done.  Being at the office means you get to connect with your fellow employees and be more involved with your company—leading to higher levels of productivity.

Regardless of which is more productive or cost-effective, working from home has become a growing trend that businesses may want to consider.  And, there are boundaries you can enforce to make the home/office schedule, for lack of a better word, work.

Here are a few suggestions we use for our own at-home workers:

1)      Require a minimum number of days at the office, say two to three.

2)      Require a daily catch-up call or work summary on at-home days to ensure there are clear daily objectives

3)      Talk openly to the person about their at-home work environment.  Are there distractions?  Does the person feel he or she will be just as, if not more, productive?

What’s your opinion on letting employees work from home?  Does your company allow it?

Sarah Jordan

Sarah Jordan

Sarah Jordan is the VP of Marketing for PaySimple, the leading provider of service commerce solutions for SMBs. At PaySimple, Sarah leads the company’s brand, acquisition, lifecycle, and product marketing strategies, and has been an integral player in growing the company from a fledgling startup to a leading SaaS platform, serving over 15,000 businesses across the country. She loves live music, being outside, great food, and hanging out with her husband, little boy, and dog.

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