Should more employees work from home?

The conversation regarding company policies on working from home has been long debated. The workforce has always been divided between those who are for it. Believing that having the flexibility to work from home will make them happier and thus more productive. To those who are against it, believing that nothing will get done or work will take longer.

Whilst technology has come a long way and more and more companies are making a big investment to stay up to date with the digital age. So can more employees work from home? Of course, they can, providing the company and employee has the necessary means to allow this with as little disruption as possible.

Technology is something that all companies must adapt to in order to survive in the business world. Consumers alone are becoming savvier and your reliability and capability to meet their needs will be questioned if they feel like your way behind on trends in comparison to your competitors.

Gone are the days when everything must be done on paper, these amazing times and advances in processes now means almost all office jobs can be done anywhere in the world, all thanks to the cloud.

For the most part, the capability of working from home or remotely is there. But it still doesn’t mean that productivity will be higher or equal to working in the office.

From a recruitment standpoint, an employee will often favour a job that comes with an option to work flexibly and remotely compared to one that is purely office-based. This does not necessarily mean they do not want to come into the office. But with life moving so quickly and more and more situations happen that may affect a worker’s life, the comfort of knowing they are able to work from home is a comforting bonus.

Employees value the option to be able to work remotely and a 2017 study has shown that the average worker is willing to accept 8% less pay for the option to work from home. Recent studies have also shown in favour of the idea of working from home, as for the right people, it can increase productivity and reduce stress. Research has also suggested that companies that encourage and support a work-from-home policy save money in the long run and decrease staff turnover, whilst workers who are able to work remotely report to feel much happier.

On the other side of the argument however, it seems that many managers worry about remote employees working less, or multitasking, potentially mixing their personal responsibilities with work. It can be argued that the more employees work remotely the higher the chance that collaborative work and clear communication can decrease amongst teams that would otherwise be harmonious when all are in the office.

Having considered those company worries, we must also discuss the pros and cons of the remote worker themselves.

The benefits of working remotely are great, for many, just being able to avoid rush hour on their commute is enough to sell the idea of working from home. Sick leave being taken will reduce because those able to work from home will have the ability to stay in the comfort of their own home even if suffering from small ailments that would otherwise mean they would need to call in sick. Employees will also be more likely to keep up with technology and become tech-savvy themselves as this will be their primary form of communication. A person who needs these skills in order to have the perk of working remotely is more inclined to learn quickly and independently through trial and error, essentially saving the company money on training.

But of course, there are cons to this way of working too. The significant importance of team harmony can be lost when members of the team are not together. This can lead to employees feeling out of the loop and less connected to projects or their colleagues. Some could struggle to find the perfect work-life balance, which means they either over-work or under-work leading to a burn-out or delaying project deadlines.

The question of whether more employees should be working from home is quite an open-ended one. Because the reality is, there is no such thing as one size fits all in this situation. There is certainly backing to the idea that trust needs to be built within a company and their employees for this policy to work and be mutually beneficial. It certainly is something all companies and managers should be considering as this is the way forward. If you haven’t started thinking about it, we highly recommend you do. Start mapping out how you think it could work for your company, what boundaries need to be set and remain flexible whilst it’s being put into place as every situation is different when it comes to remote working. If you don’t start to consider putting remote working in place, you may have to accept the fact that as times move on, you will struggle more and more to get hold of those great talents that have higher but reasonable expectations.

If you want more advice on remote working policies and how you can make it work for your business, get in touch!

ABL Recruitment team