Comforts of Home and Away !

Comforts of Home and Away !

The capacity to work flexibly is a key priority for many companies that would like to be seen as a great employer. Policies are evolving to embrace flexible work and improve employees' quality of life and worklife balance. Working from home has been highly debated over the years, and, numerous organizations that have either enabled work from home, or, withdrawn the benefit have been in the spotlight. There are organizations that cite productivity concerns as one of the reasons for their hesitancy. However, research has shown that flexible working options increases with discretionary effort (going above and beyond). It is also a myth that the time spent in an office can be a measure of productivity.


In today's virtually connected world, where we have a large pool of knowledge workers, most work can be done from anywhere. Additionally, due to mobility, people these days are either working, or, are connected to work via smartphones, tablets and laptops for much longer than ever before.


I believe that the biggest prerequisite for successful work from home is to have a "Results Only Work Environment" (ROWE). Employees must have a clarity on what they are responsible for, and, what they are expected to accomplish. It is then up to each individual how they want to manage their time and work. People who manage others need to measure the outcomes, and, not the time spent at the office. Despite work from home being a popular option amongst today's workforce, and more so with the Gen Y's, there are things to consider before organizations decide to implement a work from home policy.


What 'Works'


No commute and more time spent on work: One of the biggest advantages of working from home is that it saves a great deal of time and money for individuals as there is no commute. Rather than being stuck in traffic, most people typically end up getting at least two additional hours every day to invest in work and life, which works to reduce stress level. People opting to work from home do their bit to reduce traffic congestion, and thereby, it benefits the environment as well.


Greater flexibility: Individuals have more flexibility in their work schedule when they opt to work from home. This results in better work-life balance of personal and professional obligations. Reduced distractions: When one works from home, there may be reduced distraction and interruptions, and, as a result, most people find that they are more productive. Tasks that might have taken people a few hours to complete in an office environment, sometimes gets done much quicker when working at home.


Better talent recruitment and retention: Most candidates are keen to know if a work from home policy is in place in the organization right at the interview stage. Having a work-fromhome policy often helps organizations hire top talent, irrespective of the location, and, create a more diverse work force. People may also tend to stay longer with an organization when they have flexibility at work.


What Doesn't 'Work'


Less collaboration, learning, and innovation: In order for the employees to enjoy greater success, more and more organizations are emphasizing collaboration as a core attribute. The ability to collaborate effectively can be impacted when people choose to work from home. The ability of the employees may be limited to capitalize on the diversity within the organization, come up with innovative solutions, and, learn from their peers, if they are isolated to a home office.


Lesser sense of belonging: The camaraderie and the relationships that is formed as a result of face-to-face interactions cannot be duplicated through email, conference calls or Skype. Spending time with colleagues and social interactions at work are more likely to keep the employees engaged and happier. Having friends and like-minded people at work increases the 'stickiness' factor, and, a long term intent to stay with an organization. For the individual working from home, it can feel isolating and lonely.


Poor quality of communication: Communication is harder when everyone is not in the office. Communicating digitally, despite the advances in technology and mobility, is often less efficient and effective than talking face-to-face. There is immense value in face-to-face communication - it can positively impact productivity and performance.


Impacted progression: Gaining visibility with managers and leaders at the workplace is an important factor that enables progression. Certain aspects of employee behaviour such as work ethic, collaboration, engagement and involvement in organizational initiatives are characteristically more visible when individuals are at the office. Employees working from home need to be highly proactive about managing impressions and more available to be seen as responsive.


Enabling work-from-home is associated with higher job satisfaction amongst employees, less stress and better job performance. On the flip side, being in the office improves efficiency and collaboration. Ultimately, there is no one-size-fits-all approach with regard to flexible working that will function for every organization. The thing to aspire for is greater freedom for employees in how they get work done once they have clarity on what needs to be accomplished. Striking the right balance as an organization to enable work-life balance for your people will lead to better outcomes for all.


Seema Padman is VP HR, Epsilon. She has an experience of more than ten years bringing with her a holistic experience on all aspects of HR function. She began her career with McDonald's Corporation in London, and later as HR/ L&D Manager with Astra Zeneca in Luton, United Kingdom. Seema holds a MBA from Cranfield School of Management.


0/3000 Free Article Left >Subscribe