Working from home is slowly becoming the new norm in the modern economy. But, some companies are looking at a future economy where face-to-face collaboration will be needed to be successful.
Work without the walls
A new poll shows that, in 2016, 43 percent of employees are now spending some time away from the office while they work. This number is up from 39 percent in 2012. Not only are workers getting a little alone time with their assigned tasks, but the amount of alone time is increasing as well.
Working from home has a slew of benefits. The primary reason, according to Microsoft’s “Work Without Walls” report, is the work-life balance. You could work for 14 hours straight, inhaling one cup of coffee per hour. The next day can be used to sleep, detox or whatever you consider the “life” part of the work-life balance. Alternatively, you could work in small spurts with breaks. It’s up to you!
Additionally, it saves on all the costs involved with commuting to work, the distractions and stresses of the office, and improves trust by empowering the employee.
Are we “shirking at home”?
According to Gallup’s ‘State of the American Workplace’ report, we aren’t. Employees that are able to work at home for even just a day in the week are more engaged and productive than those that have to lug themselves to work everyday. In fact, out of those who spend some company time out of the office, “The optimal engagement boost occurs when employees spend 60% to 80% of their time — or three to four days in a five-day workweek — working off-site.”
Some employers are wary of letting their employees because they lose the power to monitor their productivity first-hand. They think employees are just taking advantage of this work perk by lounging, and shirking work responsibilities, all day. But, truth be told, this is a result of bad management. Managers that set clear expectations of their outcomes, strong metrics, and open lines of communication can see how well the employee is working.
Shirking is definitely a concern, but just as concerning is the effect guilt has on people working in their jammies. They feel guilty because they assume that co-workers (at the office) think they aren’t putting in the full 40 hours. So, remote workers end up working late nights and into weekends.
IBM: Making the office sexy, again?
Despite the perceived benefits, some companies are taking a different bet. Yahoo, for example, banned working remotely. Upset at the empty parking lots, a standstill in innovation, and some obvious shirking, CEO Marissa Mayer banned working from home. She says, “People are more collaborative, more inventive when people come together.”
IBM, (you’ve heard of it?), is also seriously reconsidering the whole work from home model. Management has began to implement the subtly-named “move or leave” program. Remote workers must now make the move to somewhere near a handful of city offices they can work at or they can find another job. As harsh as this move may be, especially for those that were initially forced to work remotely as a cost-saving measure IBM took roughly a decade ago, this is supposed to increase productivity, teamwork, and morale.
Work at home or head in?
Though working at home may help you get more work done, you may be less likely to see any promotions. By being out of sight, you become out of mind. Another complaint of remote workers is their slow response time from emails to big company wide changes. Being present at the office helps when management is trying to get everyone on the same page, quickly.
So, perhaps a little of both. The studies listed above showed productivity was highest for those that at least came into the office 20 to 40 percent of the workweek. Having somewhat of a presence at the office is not only good for that potential promotion, but for catching up with other employees and with what’s going on at the job. Also, it may be profitable to collaborate with live human beings on projects.
Importantly, by knowing your own strengths, weaknesses, and preferences, you can decide what will benefit you the most. Coincidently, for most jobs we enjoy, what benefits us will also benefit the company. Go for the win-win.
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