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Want better productivity? Allow your staff to work from home

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It may be a case of horses for courses. There are advantages and disadvantages of working from home.

Advantage number one: it saves time –  how much easier is it to be productive if you don’t have to begin the day with a long journey.  Travelling creates tiredness, and can zap enthusiasm for going to work.  Working from home solves that problem.

There is a simple financial consideration.  Working from home saves money – it saves the employee money, by cutting back on travelling costs, and it saves the employer money through cutting back on the need for expensive office space.

Then there is a point about non-full time staff. Some companies may need specialists, experts, but such expertise is not required full time. It may not be economic for such employees to work from the company’s main office.

There is also the issue of being away from distractions – the office environment is full of bustle; meetings can drag staff away from their main role. Critical, complex work, that may have a time sensitive deadline is often best carried out away from the office.

But the disadvantages of working from home are clear too; people can feel lonely, or disconnected from other workers. They may feel removed from the company, unaware of what is going on.

Working from home may cut workers off from those serendipitous moments – a chance meeting in the elevator or at the water fountain, a serendipitous moment that sparks off an idea or a new project.

The Cloud and mobile computing has changed some of the arguments.  Communication tools have created the possibility of remote meetings.   Some tools can even be used to share a computer camera’s view of workers, with other members of a team. Documents can be shared, for example.

On the other hand, just as working from the office has distractions, so does working from home – some complain that the biscuit tin becomes irresistible.

So, if you want better productivity, should you allow workers to work from home?

The answer may depend on the work.

If the work is clearly defined or has a specific deadline, or if what matters is results, then working from home can be effective. It can work that way for the worker too. Some may find it hard to find the necessary self-disciple to work effectively from home, but then few things can motivate people like deadlines, especially tight deadlines.

According to a survey of 600 office workers carried out by workplace consultant, Peldon Rose, just 26 per cent of those questioned said that they work more productively at home. Half of respondents said that remote working can make them feel stressed, while 43 per cent said it makes them feel lonely, and 53 per cent said that working out of the office makes them feel disconnected from colleagues.

But those 26 per cent of workers who say they are more productive at home count for something. If half thought remote working can make them feel stressed, that means half did not think that, or more than half do not feel lonely.

And that brings us back to the horses for courses. If you want better productivity should you allow your staff to work from home? The answer to that is surely, it depends. It depends on who the people are and the nature of the work.

And for some, the answer may be ’some of the time’. Work from home when the work that needs doing is best suited to that work practice, but work from the office some of the time, maybe opening up the chance of that serendipitous meeting.




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Tags: Business, Workforce Transformation