In 2013, a memo from Yahoo’s Human Resources department was sent all Yahoo employees, banning remote working;
“Some of the best decisions and insights come from hallway and cafeteria discussions, meeting new people, and impromptu team meetings”.
Virgin’s Richard Branson, however, was quick to voice his disagreement with Yahoo’s actions, calling it a “backwards step in an age when remote working is easier and more effective than ever.”
And a year later, in 2014, the number of people working from home in the UK rose to its highest ever levels, with 13.9% of workers remotely working – 4.2 million in total. 5% of these worked from home, while the remaining 8.9% used their home as a base but worked at different locations.
But is working from home really ‘better’ than working in an office?
Working from home affects more than just the individual employee. Managers must be sure they are able to effective communicate with their workers, especially those who don’t work in the office every day. They must remember to keep remote employees ‘in the loop’, whether that be via regular phone calls, emails or video messaging.
Managers want people in the office because they want to see their little empires there in front of them.
The main reason most employers aren’t in favour of home-working is because they don’t trust their workforce, according to Gary Cooper, professor of organisational psychology and health at Lancaster University Management School. “They’ll never say that, but that’s what it’s about. Managers want people in the office because they want to see their little empires there in front of them,” he says.
Business owners also need to evaluate whether or not allowing employees to work from home is a good idea or not. Smaller businesses might save money by having a team of remote workers – unless workers claim back for expenses used by working at home. Then there are information-security issues to consider. Is it wise to allow employees access to sensitive information in the comfort of their own homes?
As you are starting to see, remote working isn’t as simple as it may first appear, and your superiors have a lot to consider when you request to work from home.
But have you fully thought about the implications yourself? Working from home always sounds like a great idea – but there are considerations you should take into account if you decide to make the shift. Let’s look at the advantages and disadvantages of both office work and home work:
If you’re reading this, I imagine you’ve most probably worked in an office at least once in your professional life. Desk jobs take up a large part of the work sector, especially in a digital world; now more than ever more work is done online, using computers and technology.
Whilst every office environment is different, all desk jobs share common features which we can all appreciate and understand.
In an article published on Wired, Naveen Narayanan explains that the notion of “work” has changed. “Going to work is now less about being at a particular location, getting face time, chatting up with co-workers and being ‘in the office’. In arguably every industry, it is more about getting things done, servicing clients, completing projects, managing co-workers, etc., regardless of where you are.”
According to Wrike, 1 in 4 of us would accept a reduction in salary if it meant we could work from home. And it’s easy to see why…
As we can see, there are a lot of factors to consider when thinking about whether or not you should work from home. Not everyone has that certain combination of skills to successfully work remotely (self-motivation and focus, for example), and not all jobs lend themself to remote working.
There are those who retain the belief that things are best done face-to-face; “Teams need to be in daily contact and nothing beats physically sitting and reviewing work together to gauge people’s initial reactions and true thoughts,” says Jim McCall, MD of digital agency The Unit. “Teams [at The Unit] have ‘stand-ups’ every day, using agile boards [white boards with columns and tasks] that workers need to physically interact with.”
Despite this, people who work remotely are reported to be more satisfied with their jobs, and there are those – like Richard Branson – who think office jobs are becoming a thing of the past.
One possible solution to the problem of dissatisfaction in the office is to improve workplace environments by making them more comfortable for employees. This is already starting to happen, with more and more offices using innovative designs and flexible work spaces to promote workplace satisfaction and increase productivity.
The office should remain for those who want want the office
I’ve already mentioned, that it’s not always practical for employees to work remotely, and I don’t think the office is going to disappear any time soon. Robert Gorby, Powwownow’s marketing director, agrees; “the office should remain for those who want the office”.
But what do you think? Do you prefer working from the or from home? Why? Comment below or tweet us at @FullRangeFurni with your thoughts.