Working From Home: Does Telecommuting Add or Detract From Professional and Environmental Efficiency?

Working From Home: Does Telecommuting Add or Detract From Professional and Environmental Efficiency?

The touch of a button can unite a cross-continental conference call, and the allure of a decreased dry-cleaning bill is enough to tempt many hard workers away from the world of grim cubicles and endless vapid water-cooler banter.  . . but are the merits of working from home/telecommuting really worth giving up on old-fashioned face-to-face office life?

Red Asphalt and Black Skies

Each gallon of gas we use emits around 24 pounds of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists. Commuters driving cars and trucks amount to one fifth of carbon emissions in the U.S. alone, and carbon monoxide is one of the leading causes of global warming. It also doesn’t help that the more difficult gas is to extract, the more resources it requires to process. Not to mention nearly 1.3 million people die in auto accidents globally each year.

If you think about it, it puts a whole new spin on tires that need not needlessly wear down their tread. Rush hour is also one of the most dangerous times to be on the road and injure yourself, even a seemingly mindless whiplash can turn into a work-crushing nightmare. The environmental and safety hazards of reducing your driving time doesn’t stop there, in fact, the Consumer Electronics Association estimates that current telecommuters are already saving enough energy to power one million U.S. homes for an entire year.

Productivity City

Although many surmise that the allure of sleeping in and being pajama-clad all day might end up in distracted disaster, however studies show that simply isn’t the case. A study by Stanford University found that employees that telecommute can boast 13 percent more productivity that their in-office counterparts. Fluorescent lighting, pretending to laugh at innocuous jokes, and being forced to sign birthday cards for people you don’t know don’t look so bad now, do they. A study by the University of Austin also found that telecommuters work 5-7 hours more than their counterparts, proving that traffic isn’t just horrible for the environment, it’s also a productivity-sucking waste of time.

More Gratitude and Giving, Less Stress

The larger, more altruistic impact of working from home can not only be beneficial to our external environment, but your own internal environment. Working from  place of tranquility and comfort allows employees to be free from distraction mentally and physically. A University of Pennsylvania study found that telecommuters not only feel more valued when they are allowed to work from home, but they also experience less stress. The lowering stress levels correlate to better work life balance.

Employees that work from home can spend more time on hobbies. Instead of white-knuckled traffic jams from 5-6 PM, they can enjoy gardening or a walk with the dog. Furthermore, working from home can cut costs for both employees and employers. Office clothes, gas money and obligatory restaurant lunches are out of the picture, and  it is estimated that companies may save up to $11,000 annually for each employee that that telecommutes. In an earth-friendly nutshell, telecommuting can save you and your employer time, money, resources, frustration and delay . . . what’s to lose? Except maybe a less hasty onset of global warming and a grumpier workforce.

When Brands Miss The “Social” Part of Social Media: Tips to Stay on Your Game

When Brands Miss The “Social” Part of Social Media: Tips to Stay on Your Game

In the award-winning film, “The Truman Show,” there is a moment where Jim Carrey’s character is having a revelation bordering on a breakdown. In the middle of his crisis, his wife stops him, smiles sweetly and proceeds to interrupt his authentic conversation with a plug for cocoa. If you are unfamiliar, “The Truman Show” is a film based on a man’s life that he doesn’t know is a reality TV show. Of course, the sponsors of the fictional show keep it bankrolled largely through product placement. How is this relevant to your brand’s social media presence?

Well, it’s a prime example of a brand taking the “social dialogue” out of context. Many brands push so hard to plug their products and services that they forget to appeal to simple human interaction, the primary purpose of social media. Through case studies, monitoring the evolution of trends and becoming a proxy for your demographic, any brand can maximize the opportunity not only to grow customers, but build loyal fans.

Case Study One: Interact, Don’t Blast

The top 35 brands on social media report an average of 35 posts per week, contingent on their product, service or brand persona, reports The Social Examiner. The behemoth, yet wonderful brand, iTunes posts an average of more than 60 pieces of content on their Facebook page per week, while Subway posts only around nine. iTunes then experienced a slow growth of fanship by only around 0.04 percent, while Subway boasted a growth of 0.10 percent. Those may seem like small numbers, but that’s a huge difference for brands with such a heavy international reach.

What made this staggering difference? Although there are a number of factors, the boldest difference seems to lay in Subway’s devotion to answering poster’s questions. Subway responded to 61 percent of all inquiries, while iTunes responded to zero. Instead of playing it like a numbers game and blasting fans with constant updates, Subway took a more targeted and personal approach, making social media a two way street.

Case Study Two: It Doesn’t Matter Who You are or What You Do, There’s a Niche Waiting for You

Social Media today has written about the importance of befriending and embracing local communities before, and the importance of this extends to any brand, no matter the size or industry. Embracing local communities and interacting with them positively is a wonderful way to build brand loyalty and demonstrate attentiveness. However, this can quickly backfire with insensitivity.

For example, the culinary powerhouse, Epicurious, embarked on an unintentionally offensive social media campaign to show local support for the tragedy of the Boston marathon bombing. However, instead of appearing as empathic and sincere, their tweets backfired because they used them to promote their own products. One tweet read “In honor of Boston and New England: may we suggest whole-grain cranberry scones (with a link to their page)?” Instead of generating traffic to their scone section, all they did was create an uproar of offended former-fans eager to point out how self-serving the tweet was.

Meanwhile, even law firms can create local engagement through looping in both local and national trends. Take Neblett, Beard & Arsenault, based in Louisiana for example. Their ability to make their Facebook page relevant and informative has helped expand their reach and secure their reputation as more than a group of stuffy lawyers, but people who are interactive and keep their finger on the pulse of pertinent happenings.


Whether or not your brand is a Law Firm, a sandwich company, or you just want to peddle some cocoa on the big screen, the impact of tailoring your social media to speak with your demographic, instead of “at” them, can make a world of difference.

How to Make Your Business More Productive

How to Make Your Business More Productive

Take Control of Your Habits

When you run a business, especially a small business, it may feel like you’re always behind. At the end of many long days at work, you may feel like you should have gotten more done. You’re not alone; most small business owners would love to have a few extra hours in the day. Unfortunately, like everyone else, you only have 24. But, you can take control of your day-to-day habits in a way that will help you get the most out of the hours you have. The following is a list of basic practices which, if you make a conscious effort to adopt, will eventually become second-nature. The little things really do add up. Soon, you’ll find that your business is more efficient, more productive, and that you are less stressed.

Productivity-Increasing Practices

  • Focus on a single task at a time. When it feels like you’re being pulled in a million different directions, it’s tempting to try to put out every fire at once. In reality, the idea multitasking is a bit of a myth. If you’re doing many things at once, you cannot do them well. Better to attack a single task thoroughly, and….
  • …Delegate the rest! You hired talented employees; let them lead on tasks that play to their strengths. It will leave you more time to focus on your own workload, and many employees find the increased autonomy to be motivating. Satisfied employees are more productive.
  • Plan out your schedule and your to-do list, every day. It may feel silly, if you think you already know what needs doing, or overwhelming if the list gets long, but it’s worth it. An organized plan helps you budget your time and prioritize your tasks.
  • Make sure you have the appropriate software for your business’ operations. In one study by Microsoft, 55% of respondents directly linked their productivity levels to the quality of their software.
  • Similarly, consider using an external or remote-access drive for all your employees. It’ll cut down on back-and-forth emailing of attachments, and miscommunications: everyone will literally be on the same page. Many online drives allow plenty of free storage space in the cloud, or offer other services for quite low fees.
  • Make sure lines of communication are always open, and streamline your meetings. You and your employees will be more efficient if you can access information quickly, and reach each other easily. You may find that more frequent, quick updates are more productive than long, general meetings.