People go to work for many reasons, in addition to the requirement to receive an income. Those reasons will vary from individual to individual, but may include having a purpose, feeling valuable and valued, using their skills, the social contact with colleagues, having a challenge, having a structure to their lives and many more. And people have other factors outside of work to accommodate. They may be parents or carers. They may wish to work part time. They may be studying or have a demanding hobby or have other demands on their time. They may be disabled. They may hate commuting in the rush hour!
In order to meet some of these needs, many organisations offer flexible working. This can include flexible start and finish times (e.g. to avoid the rush hour), flexi-time, part-time working, job-share, term-time working, annualised hours, nine-day fortnights, job carving and the opportunity to carry out some or all tasks from home.
I’m particularly interested in exploring the idea of home-working for those jobs, or parts of jobs, that could be carried out remotely. The benefits for the employer include saving money on office space, greater retention of staff, wider pool of candidates to choose from, increased productivity (research suggests that employees are, on average, more productive at home) and savings on travel expenses. Benefits for employees include less time and money spent commuting, greater flexibility in juggling other responsibilities, working in an accessible environment and a better work/life balance. Society gains the ecological benefits of far fewer people travelling by car/train.
However, there may be drawbacks. Managers may not feel comfortable with remotely managing people’s performance, employees may miss the camaraderie of working in a team.
I’d be interested to hear how employers have overcome some of these obstacles. Do you know of any examples of good practice?