“To become the absolute best place to work, communication and collaboration will be important, so we need to be working side-by-side. That is why it is critical that we are all present in our offices.” Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer has today banned her employees from working at home. Everyone, including senior staff.
So, is this a good move or is it just a little traditionalist?
7-8 years ago working from home was unthinkable, a far off blip on the horizon of opportunities. The technology of the time wasn’t there to enable it to be productive. Almost all files were stored locally, laptops cost a fortune (and weighed a ton), and home broadband ran at a whopping 512kps. In addition to this, business culture was still firmly rooted into being ‘in the office’ and working 9-6. In 2013, the technology has changed but is the culture still 2005.
With the increased rent and service cost of offices, many business are looking at opportunities to reduce their overheads. Likewise with a significant increase in travel costs many workers are assessing the benefits of remote working.
Ultra-books, tablets and the growing use of cloud-based computing allows staff to work from anywhere where there is a good quality broadband connection. Cloud computing is scaleable depending on the size of the business. Flexible hours reduced commuting and fewer distractions are often leading to a significant increase in productivity and staff engagement.
But is working from home all it is cracked up to be? An essential element is to ensure that the space and environment is appropriate. Working with your computer on your lap in Starbucks is the not the best location if your work involves a lot of telephone conversations. Do you have the space for a desk, is a printer necessary, and is there peace and quiet when needed?
Many start-up businesses and remote workers worry about being found out, and that it’s just not professional enough. Their biggest concern is that the dog will bark or that ‘little Jimmy’ back from school will ask a question at an inappropriate time. You may be mortified–but perhaps your concern is unfounded, more and more business are adopting a relaxed work environment, so background noise is a common occurrence. Being honest and upfront about how and when you work is far more important, let the person on the other end of the line know that you work from home twice per week.
Bottom line, working from home isn’t ideal for every person but remote working is still a viable option. A large number of companies are now offering the flexibility of working locally with the benefits of an office by providing hot desks on a monthly subscription basis. Companies like Regus offer desks, wi-fi, tea/coffee and printing for very attractive rates.
Like many things, I believe it is about balance. Cloud computing, shared drives and fibre optic broadband have enabled the option, but a great deal is still achieved by the old fashion art of a face-to-face conversation. Gone are the days when working remotely is considered impossible, but at the moment, employees still feel as if they need a good reason to log in from home. This is down to culture and tradition.
It seems that pretty soon, we’ll need to think up a good enough reason to actually travel into the office every day of the week.