Here’s a quick multiple choice question.
In a straw poll of the staff in your office, do you think they would prefer to –
A) get up, have a leisurely coffee, see the kids off to school and then do a solid day’s work, all in the comfort of their pyjamas?
B) get up, rush out the house so quickly they forget their phone, spend an age looking for a parking space near the station, wedge into a delayed train that should have arrived 20 minutes ago, get to the office stressed and sweaty, work like a dog and repeat the process on the way home? Every. Single. Day.
A, right? We thought so, but is it all it’s cracked up to be? What are the pros and cons of working from home?
It’s a Numbers’ Game
As always, let’s look at the statistics (gleaned from various surveys and reports conducted by private companies in the recruitment and HR space and by official bodies like the ONS):
- Approximately 15% of the UK workforce work from home as part of their current job
- 85% of ‘millennials’ want to work from home full-time
- Over 90% of remote workers said they get more work done at home
- 7 in 10 of UK workers think it’s important for businesses to allow working from home
- More than 9 in 10 British firms have at least one employee who works from home
- Homeworkers are twice as likely to go over 40 hours a week than office-based staff
So that’s that. There appears to be no downside to working from home.
Or is there…?
The Business Advantages…
Over the last decade or so as we have navigated our way through the choppy waters of a banking crisis, a recession, the threat of Brexit uncertainty and a staggeringly unpredictable and volatile geopolitical situation, businesses large and small have had to make some hard decisions about their headcounts. Some businesses have closed altogether, some have reduced headcount through redundancies and ‘consolidation’ and some have cut back on space, rent, facilities and utilities by allowing employees to work from home.
The theory is sound. Working from home has plenty of advantages and the development of efficient, easy-to-use technological and communications tools has played a vital role in allowing people to successfully work remotely –
- Staff Retention Working from home can help to retain those who have to juggle things like the responsibilities of childcare
- A Wider Staff Pool Businesses get access to a wider pool of applicants, for example disabled people who need to work from home
- Productivity Gains Home working has been proven to offer less distractions and interruptions, including a daily time-killing commute
- Increased Motivation Staff suffer less stress away from the office environment as well as taking fewer sick days
- Finances Less staff in a smaller office equals savings on rent, space and facilities
- Life/Work Balance Improvements Improved health and well-being lead to increased productivity and therefore, profitability
So it seems there’s no downside to allowing staff to work from home, but the reality doesn’t always match up to the theory…
The Business Risks
Most, if not all, businesses are governed by technology and when there’s a glitch in the matrix, the advantages rapidly become disadvantages –
- Performance Monitoring It can often be hard to monitor the performance of and effectively manage remote employees
- Finances Savings on office space can often be negated by the costs of training, new equipment (hardware, software, communication devices and associated monthly bill increases) and adaptations to meet the specific needs of certain employees
- Security Information security risks are more likely to occur through the lack of security software and provisions on remote workers’ devices
- Communication Setting up a group on WhatsApp or via email is a viable solution but there’s no comparison to face-to-face interaction, especially when deadlines need to be met
There’s no question that technology has made it easier for staff to work remotely but as a technology company that specialises in making you more secure, more productive, more efficient and more profitable through cloud technology (and are also huge advocates of remote working if it’s done right), we have a responsibility to let you know that it’s not always rosy in the garden.
Our solutions negate the need for businesses to take unnecessary risks when allowing staff to work remotely. They ensure that productivity – indeed all online activity – is monitored and visible and in our experience this is the overriding cause of reluctance on the part of business owners to embrace flexible working.
By and large, business owners don’t really care that their staff dip into Facebook for a 10-minute gossip with a morning cuppa but the do care if they’re downloading sensitive files and dumping them into their own Dropbox accounts. It’s that visibility which we give to businesses so they can be absolutely comfortable allowing staff to make the switch.
They are designed to simplify your IT infrastructure and to allow your staff to work collaboratively, efficiently and with much more flexibility, wherever they happen to be and even if they’re doing it in a giraffe onesie.
Have a good week.