Having a flexible working arrangement which allows employees to sometimes work from home can be beneficial for everybody involved – but it needs buy-in from all concerned to make it a success.
The traditional model of having everybody clock in at nine in the morning and out again at five had its advantages, but it reflected a mindset which has long had its day. Some firms, of course, have taken longer to emerge from that mindset than others, but recent years have seen a substantially more adaptable approach on the part of many bosses as the lifestyles of employees as well as consumer expectations change.
Employers’ Obligations to Consider Home Working Options
In recognition of these new realities legislation exists to ensure that every employer gives reasonable consideration to a request for flexible working arrangements, subject to certain conditions having been met. Employees have redress if stipulated procedures, such as a meeting to discuss such an application, are not followed. There is some evidence to suggest that employers’ attitudes are changing as it becomes clear that removing unnecessary areas of conflict between an employee’s private and working life leads to greater work satisfaction and increased productivity. A report from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development has argued that implementing flexible working practices can improve engagement and motivation amongst staff.
But changing workplace cultures and the attitude of employers is only half the story. Working successfully from home is a strict discipline to which the employee also needs to adapt if the arrangement is to prove successful. The home and life within it are filled with potential distractions and without a positive effort being made to tackle these it is unlikely that productivity will benefit from relocation away from the workplace.
Overcoming Distractions and Obstacles to Working From Home
This is no small obstacle to overcome. Having to attend to children and family business, simple domestic obligations like laundry, shopping, cooking and the television can all compete for the employee’s attention. Without supervision some will undoubtedly lack the discipline to work the required number of hours with the required level of concentration to be able to replicate the performance they would provide in the workplace. Even people who work privately and independently from home, following such disciplines as freelancing, creative writing or filling in online surveys, are aware of the importance of creating the right ambience in which to work. Sometimes relocating to another room, or to an entirely different environment, may be necessary to ensure the right conditions.
Informed opinion seems to suggest that flexible working from home, where the nature of the work permits, engenders greater productivity and enhanced employee satisfaction and thereby loyalty, but this is only achievable when focus and concentration are maintained, work is structured and distractions can be eliminated.