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The Real Reasons for Telecommuting

No. 1: Becky in HR won't ruin "Game of Thrones."

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I’m writing this from my house on a workday. I didn’t get stuck in traffic. I didn’t have to eat a soggy peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich for lunch. And I was able to throw in a load of laundry during a team conference call. It was glorious.

The stats about telecommuting are frequently quoted — more than 13 million U.S. workers (9.4 percent) worked at least one day at home per week in 2010, compared with 9.2 million, or seven percent of U.S. workers in 1997. And since 2012, there has been a 20 percent increase in telecommuting in the U.S. Why the demand? Why do 79 percent of employees want to work from home at least part-time?

It certainly makes sense for employers. Studies show that remote offices save companies $11,000 in overhead costs per employee per year. The productivity argument holds water, with 53 percent of telecommuters putting in more than 40 hours per week. And it’s certainly better for the environment, as a lack of commuters reduces the carbon footprint. But are these the real reasons that telecommuting continues to grow and shape the way the traditional American office operates? I think not.

As the CEO of a company that has employees in 10 locations across three continents, I’ve found that telecommuting provides benefits that far outweigh any of the traditional reasons previously discussed.

No more “Game of Thrones” spoilers: A 2014 TiVo Study found that 65 percent of all TV and movie spoilers are caused by friends, acquaintances and co-workers. Working from home means that Becky from HR won’t be telling you what the White Walkers did last night.

Coffee bankruptcy: According to a recent study of 1,000 American workers, half of American workers regularly buy coffee during the week. This half spent an average of $1,092 a year — that’s more than $5 a day. A month of telecommuting and you can just buy yourself a Keurig.

Cereal for every meal: A full two-thirds of office workers buy lunch at work. On average, the midday meal costs lunchers $1,924 a year. At home, you can eat Cinnamon Toast Crunch for breakfast, lunch and midday snack, and still have money to spare. Your dream meals as a 7-year-old can now be realized every single day.

No more faking interest in local sports teams: Some of us aren’t obsessed with sports. Some of us (this author included) may actually like watching and playing chess more than playing fantasy football. Working from home means you don’t have to fake like you watched last night’s game, because you were really playing chess online. Telecommuter checkmate.

No more road rage: Commuting costs account for about $1,500 a year. Add in the time stewing over the guy eating a breakfast sandwich while talking on his phone in the HOV lane, and the savings really add up. No more stress before you even enter an office.

You’ll win Parent of the Year: According to Inc. magazine, telecommuters spend about $5,000 less on child care than their office-bound counterparts. Do it for the kids. They say it takes a village. I say it just takes remote offices.

More productive: Remote workers are from 11 percent to 20 percent more productive when working on creative tasks. And communication efficiency is greatly increased, with less time spent chit-chatting at the water cooler, and more time talking about project details and deadlines on corporate chat platforms and videoconferences.

So there you have it. Telecommuting from a remote office makes the boss happier, the employees happier and, most importantly, the children are happier.


Andrei Soroker is the co-founder and CEO of Kato.im, a company that builds real-time communication software for large and distributed companies. Before Kato, Soroker was the third employee at Rdio, where he worked on the Big Data team, and the first employee at Connect.Me, where he helped build an innovative social reputation platform. He lived in Siberia before moving to San Francisco as a teenager, where he attended Ruth Asawa School of The Arts, majoring in visual art. He lives in Oakland, Calif., with his wife and three children. Reach him @abs.

This article originally appeared on Recode.net.

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