We’ve all heard it, “working from home is going to become the new normal”, “the workplace will never be the same again”, “businesses aren’t going to need these large expensive offices any more”, but what doe that mean for workers and businesses?
I like many of my colleagues and friends have been working from home for many years. This is not surprising as I work in an industry that promotes agile and home working and therefore those businesses have seen the benefits and reaped the reward. However, while it’s nice not to commute to London on a daily basis and I can spend more time with the family etc there are still some challenges that need to be addressed.
For starters some people don’t want to work from home. I have had colleagues in the past that openly admit that working from home doesn’t feel like work, they do the minimum amount to get through and spend most of their time doing ‘other things’ occasionally checking their email to see if they have anything that needs some attention. Is this unprofessional, yes, will it only work for so long, probably, but, they didn’t ask to work from home and quite frankly we've not been trained how to manage our time or what’s expected of us.
Then there is the business ‘benefits’, lower office costs, reduction in IT overheads, instant business continuity across the business... But is it practical, what are the downsides? Well firstly how about business culture, one of the hardest things to replicate in a remote environment is business culture, that quick watercooler moment that sparks that idea, winning that large contract that makes the company a success, those beers after work that bond a team together and make everyone ‘feel’ part of something, those things are also difficult. It's also true that it can be lonely working from home and we find our days and calendars are filled with endless conference calls which aren't engaging and in some cases aren't even relevant.
In summary, I’m not negative on home working, I think it can be a great compliment to the working environment, and I’m a believer in doing things that add value, so work from home when it adds value to your day and work from the office for the same reason. But agile working isn’t always more efficient and so businesses and individuals alike need to give careful consideration to the working environment before it becomes ‘the norm’.