These days working from home has become somewhat common place. Widely used groupware technology such as video-conferencing, together with the rise of the virtual office and hot-desking, have helped to make working at home a practical solution for business. The downturn has also played an important role in the home working trend with many companies now asking staff to work remotely in a bid to cut down on the amount of office space they require.
However working from home can create a number of challenges for both the employee, who can feel isolated, and the employer, who can no longer monitor his or her staff with a close eye. While home working may sound like a neat solution to cutting office rentals it can also come with some pricey draw backs, the sum of which may add up to a detrimental effect on the quality and quantity of work produced by staff.
Rolling out of bed in the morning and going to work in our pyjamas may sound like a dream to many but in reality how many of us would wake up to the fact that we are actually at work? Working at home is a big adjustment for staff whose work-life balance is suddenly thrown out of orbit. The ability to recognise when to work and when to play is no longer governed by our surroundings and self-discipline becomes key to producing quality work, something which may prove difficult for some.
At home we are surrounded by distractions. We may be able to take work back to the house but bringing our professionalism home with us may prove more of a challenge. We have the freedom to procrastinate more now that our boss is not looking over our shoulder. Perhaps that email on Facebook might get answered now that the threat of management surveillance is gone, or the telephone call from a friend may last a little longer than it would have if taken in the office. Similarly taking a few minutes to nip off and do the washing or the dishes may seem harmless enough. However, unchecked, these daily working delays could amount to a costly sideline business for the employer who is now paying us to clean up our houses and socialise!
While certain staff members can thrive in a self-contained environment, others may fall flat if left on their own without the professional atmosphere of the workplace and the camaraderie of the office. For anyone, working at home is to be in a lonely state and, without the day to day contact of colleagues and management, staff can end up feeling isolated and unmotivated leading to a decline in work and working quality.
Trust must play an important role in order for the new remote employer/employee relationship to be successful. Additionally gaining an understanding of staff-specific working habits is crucial; the employer must recognise which workers will do well working from home and which will be better suited to the office. It is important that management considers the needs of employees and ensures that both discipline and motivation are upheld. Regular contact should also be maintained to make sure that the worker still feels part of a team.
Does your company encourage remote working? Do you think that working from home is a positive or negative thing for staff and management? Write in and let us know how remote working has affected your business.
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