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These are dark days for the traditional 9-to-5. Online, on TV, and in the pages of magazines and newspapers across the country, a debate rages about the merits of working from the office.

It seems like everyone agrees that telecommuting, flexible work schedules, and home offices are the future of the American workplace. After all, studies have indicated that employees are happier and more productive when working from home, that long commutes drive up weight and blood pressure, and that a flexible work-life balance is one of the most sought-after perks by young employees. Simply put, telecommuting reduces work-life conflict.  And in addition to the measurable benefits that telecommuting provides employees, the upside for companies is considerable as well. Aetna claims to have saved $78 million in real estate costs, and Cisco made an extra $195 million in productivity gains. 

So that's it: Telecommuting is clearly the answer for both employers and employees, right? Not so fast.  

Like everything in business, working from home is subject to the law of trade-offs, which means that with every upside comes an opportunity cost. Face time and personal interaction can be critical to building relationships that can contribute to career advancement. That could be why telecommuters are 50% less likely to be promoted.  

What about the freedom and flexibility that comes with working from home? Well, that can be a blessing and a curse. Most telecommuters report working longer and less regular hours as a result of working away out of the office. They may miss out on work friendships, which are also critical to career advancement, and tend to feel isolated despite the many innovative communication technologies we now have access to.

Like employees, companies also suffer the negative trade-offs that come with telecommuting. Remember that it's in the best interest of companies to form relationships with employees, to promote from within, and to keep turnover low. So if telecommuting hurts an employee's ability to excel, it certainly hurts a company that's paying a stagnated worker. 

So, working from home is great for both employees and employers. But it can also be quite damaging to both parties. Confused yet? At the end of the day, there's no "one size fits all" solution to the telecommuting conundrum. Each company and every employee needs to weigh the costs and benefits, and decide what's best for their particular situation.