The concept of telecommuting is nothing new. In fact, companies like AT&T and IBM were experimenting with the idea of “moving work to the worker, rather than the worker to work” as far back as 1998. However, adoption of work from home policies has increased dramatically in more recent times, backed by evidence of the benefits.
With that being said, the debate over remote work is far from over. As recently as 2013, Yahoo! made the surprising decision to recall remote workers to the office, and companies like Bank of America and IBM followed behind in either reducing or eliminating work from home policies. Others expanded WFH schemes in the same time period and enjoyed great success, while many of those who recalled remote workers have since relaxed that strategy again.
The truth is that remote work has many benefits, but also some potential drawbacks. As a result, those adopting a work from home policy need to ensure they have a workplace facility too, and need to acquire the right office interior design services to ensure that workplace serves the needs of the entire team.
Advantages of a Work from Home Policy
While adoption of telecommuting was initially slow, due to fears about the impact it would have on productivity, since work from home policies became mainstream the evidence for its benefits is actually overwhelming. Not only do many staff prefer it, there are also clear business benefits too.
According to various pieces of research compiled by CIPHR, 76 percent of workers said they prefer to do important tasks away from the office, while 82 percent would be more loyal to an organisation with a flexible work policy. In the UK, 70 percent of workers say it is important for employers to allow employees to work remotely.
A report published by Global Workplace Analytics found that remote working reduces attrition, cuts absences and improves productivity by as much as 40 percent. It also points out that 36 percent of employees would choose the option of remote work over a pay rise, and in the technology industry, 37 percent would even take a pay cut.
It is also worth pondering the huge potential savings associated with reducing office space.
“An organisation’s real estate represents one of their largest expenses, second only to costs associated with their workforce,” says Tiffany Bloodworth Rivers, writing for iOFFICE. “By allowing employees to work remotely, many organisations have decreased their real estate portfolio, saving on rent and other related expenses.”
Drawbacks of Remote Work or Telecommuting
While there are a huge number of studies showing clear benefits linked to telecommuting and work from home policies, it is not without its drawbacks and it is important to be aware of these. It is also worth considering precisely why companies like Yahoo! took the decision to recall remote workers in the first place, regardless of the results.
An article published by Bayt.com points out a number of potential disadvantages for employees, including potential distractions at home, an inability to separate work and home life, and alienation from daily company developments. Further evidence is provided by a 2017 study from Cardiff University, which found that while three-quarters of remote workers put in more effort, 44 percent of them find it difficult to relax after work.
Moreover, some employers have expressed concern about having too many remote workers, as the absence of real-life interactions could stifle creativity, reduce innovation and lead to a less cohesive workforce. This is especially true of larger organisations, which may explain why they have been the most likely to recall remote staff.
“I think these companies are really struggling to compete at an innovation level with smaller-stage organisations,” Thanh Nguyen, the managing director of Connery Consulting, told NBC News. “They’re thinking of every single possible way to reunite people to drive better innovations. Solutions like Slack and Asana make telecommuting much easier, [but] it’s difficult when you have a sub team of 1,000.”
The Need for a Workplace Facility
Ultimately, there are advantages and disadvantages to adopting a work from home policy and while the benefits likely outweigh the negatives, this is not true for everyone. Some employees simply will not want to work from home, and others might only want the option to do so, rather than doing it all the time.
Meanwhile, concepts like office branding and ideas around team bonding sessions have been pushed for years as ways to make employees take more pride in their job and feel more of a connection with their employer. Yet, there is no office branding at home and it is harder to bond with other members of a team via video conferencing.
Thankfully, adopting a work from home policy does not need to be an either/or decision between the physical workplace and telecommuting. Instead, the ideal is to provide the option to work from home, while also offering a workplace facility for those who prefer it or need it. You might even insist on office attendance one day a week.
Of course, it is still possible to make savings on rental costs and office interior design services, because the office does not necessarily have to be able to accommodate every staff member all at once. Nevertheless, your infrastructure should be set up to ensure employees can work equally effectively at home or in the workplace.
The popularity of work from home policies is growing all the time, and research shows there are many advantages, both for employees and their employers. However, to protect against some of the potential drawbacks, it is vital that your company still has a workplace facility and allows remote workers the choice to attend whenever they like.