It was only a few years ago that ‘working from home’ was the big trend that was tipped to be the future for the world’s workforce.
According to the 2011 UK census about 11% of the country’s working population was working ‘mainly or completely’ from home. Certainly we were seeing that more and more job specs had started to include ‘opportunity to work from home’.
I remember thinking then that this was definitely a sign of the times. Of course there are many benefits that working from home brings. I see them myself both with me and, at times, other members of my team. They include; reduced commuting time, more focus to get on with a specific project, flexibility and giving employees ownership and trust, to name a few.
Plus the uber-fast evolution of technology means that those of us in a service industry can pretty much all work ‘on the move’ and from any location much more easily.
But it’s interesting to see that now this trend seems to be reversing.
In the last few months a few of the larger employers such as Yahoo and Admiral Insurance have started to put the brakes on this policy. Most of them have people working across lots of different sites and different working hours and it’s clear that maybe having people working from home was actually working against them.
Of course while there are lots of positives, there are also downsides which, if abused, can have a detrimental impact on any business.
The main ones I can think of are; less connection with the office environment, (this can lead to a less empowered workforce), harder to manage and monitor performance (yes software can track numbers but not real sentiment) and image problem (home working can have a bad perception with other employees).
As with most of these trends you have to take what’s right for you. It depends on you, the service you are delivering, your size, your team and the culture you share. It’s not going to be for everyone.
As ever please let us know what you think.