The truth about working from home

Are employers unfairly suspicious?

David Quinn: BrightHR Social Media Manager

Flexible working has gone mainstream over the last few years and many workplaces are embracing the benefits of this approach. Whether that be flexible hours or working from home, work has started to change for many of us. Technology has facilitated much of this change, allowing us to connect with the workplace from wherever we are and access our important documents whenever we wish. In fact, it is now possible for people to work without ever having to visit the office.

For many working from home is the perfect solution and is actually where they feel they get most work done, free from the distractions and requests of the modern workplace. But despite this many still view those who work from home with suspicion, as if it’s just an excuse for people to slack off. But why do many view those working from home this way? Isn’t it time we embraced the benefits and see it as the valuable way of working that is?

The benefits of working from home

Working from home isn’t possible for everyone, but for many roles and industries it’s a real possibility. With that in mind we wanted to outline the benefits of working from home and show why those who can facilitate flexible working should embrace it, rather than be suspicious.

  • The commute

Most people hate the workplace commute and for many the time it takes to get into work is increasing. A study by the TUC showed that the number employees commuting for more than two hours a day jumped by 72% to over 3 million people in the last decade and those who commuted three hours or more rose by 75% to 880,000. This has led to a number of issues, increased congestion and pollution, reduced productivity due to tiredness, reduced work-life balance, increased stress and associated health issues.

These issues ultimately affect your employees and your business. So, by allowing more working from home many of these issues can start to be addressed and your business can benefit.

  • Hiring, company perception and retention

Offering flexible working is seen by many as a valuable workplace perk. In fact, a recent survey found that 47% saw it as the perk they would most like to receive and 62% considered it a key factor when looking for a job. Companies that offer flexible working are therefore likely to be seen more positively by those looking for employment, and in a competitive job market making your company attractive to talented job-seekers is vital.

But it’s not just positive for hiring, it’s also positive in terms of retaining current staff. By utilising flexible working initiatives it shows trust in employees and promotes a loyalty to the company. This means you hold onto your all important staff longer and the costs of recruiting new staff is therefore reduced.

  • Further cost reductions

It’s not just recruitment costs that can be saved by flexible working. With workers now working from home you won’t need as many desks and therefore office space can be reduced, not to mention the energy bills. The upgraded ICT infrastructure needed to facilitate remote workers can also mean reduced phone bills and because documents are shared and viewed online there’s vastly reduced printing costs. These are just some of the cost savings that could be achieved through flexible working and it is estimated that flexible working could save British businesses £34 billion a year.

  • Results, outcomes and productivity

Just because your people are in the office doesn’t mean they are being productive. In fact, it seems we have become more focussed on the time spent in work rather than the outcomes or results of that time. When it comes to working from home it can be hard to monitor how much time someone has spent on work. This may seem like a negative, but it’s actually a good thing. It moves our focus away from the time spent on a particular task and starts to focus on the outcomes and the results of the work.

For many people working from home, or outside the office, is when they are at their most productive and it’s easy to see why. Being in an office environment is full of distractions. Meetings, emails, general office chatter. To prove the point the average eight hour a day worker has been found to only be productive for around three hours of that time. Working from home removes a lot of these distractions and can help workers truly focus on the task in hand.

  • Work-life balance, improved health and reduced absence

Flexible working can help re-address the work-life balance. People can fit work around commitments such as childcare, they can choose when and where they feel their most productive and they can have more time with friends and family. It all means you have a more balanced life, less stress, reduced sickness absence, improved mental wellbeing and greater job satisfaction. It’s win-win.

  • So how do you start?

Flexible working doesn’t just happen overnight and there’s no one way of going about it. It’s all down to your business, what’s realistic and what’s best for your employees. The great thing about it is that you can take small steps into the world of flexible working before making any big commitment. Having flexible start and finish times is a great starting point and if it works it could be the start of your flexible working revolution.

Admittedly, working from home isn’t for everyone and it can be a difficult process to set up any flexible working initiative. But the benefits can outweigh the negatives. So what are you waiting for? Get flexible and give it a go.

Flexible working could play a big part in the future of work. But what else does the future have in store for the workplace? Why not download The New Workforce and find out.