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As corporates moved to encourage work life balance by implement work from home arrangements, Yahoo! announced earlier in February this year that they are scrapping their “work from home” program, arrangement, privilege, whatever you call it. In a nutshell, employers have to report to the office for work.
Yahoo! is not the sole loner in this. Even Bank of America scaled back on My Work, its work from home program. Even though Google does not have a similar policy, its CEO, Patrick Pichette made a remark earlier this year that “Working from the office is really important.”
With technological advancement, as the world becomes more wired, internet speeds are faster, we can use our webcams to participate in meetings, and our smart phones allow us to receive emails even if we are holidaying in the Caribbean. In fact, we are able to respond with the same speed as if we are in the office. Why are companies scaling back from their work-from-home arrangements?
Apparently, the main reason for this is the HUMAN CHEMISTRY.
“There is something magical about sharing meals,” according to Pichette. “There is something magical about spending the time together, about noodling on ideas, about asking at the computer ‘What do you think of this?’”
It’s true that face-to-face interaction is a fantastic platform for ideas to sparked, exchange of know-how, employees to discuss issues, which would never have been discussed in an email. However, does these over-rules the advantages of working from home?
Let’s explore some of the more often quoted benefits of working-from-home.
1. Better work-life balance
2. Avoiding Traffic, thus removing time wasted in commuting
3. Less Distraction
4. Better Atmosphere
5. Companies save money
Most of these reasons supposedly lead to better employee productivity, which supposedly translates to benefits for the employer. Also, research has shown that by providing work from home alternative, employees tend to appreciate the company more, improved levels of employee loyalty, as well working longer hours as most would have started working an hour earlier or end later using the timeframe which they would typically be commuting to/from work.
Also, when you have employees working from home, companies would probably switch back to hotdesking to reduce wastage of space, as such, renting smaller units and also buying less office equipment, etc, reducing overhead costs as a result.
In a nutshell, there are both pros and cons to working from home. Companies should not rush to determine its advantages or disadvantages immediately. However there are still benefits to working-from-home programs and it depends on the “rider” policies that companies implement to reap those benefits.
Set aside a day where everyone should be in office
We still want to reap those benefits of having a collaborative effort and discussion and setting days where it is compulsory for employees to report to work at the office is a good way of doing that. Mondays and Fridays are good days, as research has shown that typically, these are the least productive days and days where there are less business transactions.
Ensuring that you have the gadgets and equipments available for your employees to work from home
Internet access though the most important, is not the only tool that is required to ensure that your employees can work from home efficiently. It is imperative to ensure that they are equipped with the proper software and hardware which would allow them to participate in video conferences, or teleconferences, or the VPN and Citrix setup for them to have access to emails.
Provide a minimum period for new employees before they can reap the work-from-home program
New employees need a period of time to assimilate into the culture of the new company as well as to familiarize themselves with the procedures. Allow them to have a period of 3-6 months to understand office operations before they engage in the work from home arrangement. This is also important as there might be other colleagues at the workplace who might be working from home on certain days and as such, by ensuring that they are at the workplace daily during this period would enable them the opportunity to interact with every staff in the company.
Conduct collaborative and team workshops often
With more employees working from home, we still want to maintain that collaborative effort and team spirit which might dilute overtime by working from home. Conduct team workshop often, so that employees are aware of the projects by other members and the collaborative efforts of the team to keep that spirit going.
Does your company has a work-from-home program or do you implement any side policies to it? Let me know in the comments.
Image cover credit: The Real Singapore
Guest post written by Kit Lim: Kit enjoys discussing social issues, is interested in fashion, loves travelling to new places and connecting with new people. By day, she works as a business development executive in Singapore and during her free time, maintains her blogshop and she has also recently started a new business venture with her husband. Originally from Singapore, Kit has lived in Tokyo, Mumbai and the U.S. She practices yoga in between her crazy schedules and lives by the phrase “living your life every minute everyday”.