Is working from home the best option for employees?
Post written by Paragon Interiors   November 24, 2016

The World of Work is fast paced and constantly changing and we are all continuously striving to find some kind of balance between our work and home lives. As a result of this constant struggle, many people are left feeling stressed and frazzled.With easy access to technology and mobile connectivity, we are now able to work from anywhere at any time, and many people believe that working from home will be the solution to their attempt to juggle their work and home responsibilities. Even more so, when there are children to consider.

Working from home is seen by many as the perfect solution. Who wouldn’t want to work in their pyjama pants all day?

While there are benefits to working from home, it is not a solution that is without drawbacks.

A recent study by Allen, Golden and Shockley (2015) published in the Psychological Science in the Public Interest journal found that there is “little empirical evidence to suggest that telecommuting is a generally effective way to mitigate work-family conflict”. In fact, the situation can worsen when individuals do not have a clear cut, physical distance from their work. People who work from home often end up working longer hours than those who don’t!

In addition to the above, collaboration suffers and when collaboration suffers, productivity is often soon to follow. No amount of technology can ever replace face-to-face communication and the spontaneous interaction that occurs from bumping into people in the hallways or walking up and down the stairs.

When Marissa Meyers took over as CEO of the famously forward thinking company Yahoo, she made the decision to institute a new policy where all employees needed to come back to the office. Most of Yahoo’s staff were working remotely and the company’s culture, general communication and idea generation had suffered as a result.

Marissa understood that the heart of a company is in its people, and that it can be very difficult to instil company values and goals in employees who do not see one another often.

But what if there is a way to have it all? What if we design our offices in such a way that supports the work-life balance that employee’s desire and implement strategies to help people excel in all areas of their lives.

Here are a few ideas that will help to create an office that feels like home:

1. Implement flexible working hours where possible

Giving people some control over the hours they work goes a long way toward supporting a successful work-life balance. It also helps to reduce counterproductive time spent in traffic.

If the type of work and technology allows for it, it is worth considering allowing employees to work from home for portions of the day or week. This affords individuals the opportunity to live the dream of working in PJ pants without sacrificing team work in the office.

2. Create various places to work within your office space

This allows for choice and freedom of movement – one of the perceived benefits of working from home. To achieve this, companies should create different environments to perform different types of work, for example; a quiet room with a soft arm chair where one can go to focus on reading a document, this creates a space free from distraction which is one of the reasons people like to work from home. A great work café area where one can grab a cup of coffee and work in an inspiring environment can mimic a homely kitchen environment or coffee shop.

3. Design for privacy

Many people working in open plan environments, find their work space too noisy and not private enough to get through their work and would love to work from home for some privacy.  It is important that your office allows people to escape the open plan when they need to work on confidential information or take a private phone call. Creating focus rooms or telephone booths that are close to the open plan but are completely sound insulated, is vital to respecting privacy and increasing productivity.

4. Allow for personalisation and comfort

It is important to consider the type of work that employees do when planning the office space. If the majority of staff are desk-based, ensure that they are comfortable at work by investing in great quality operator chairs. If the culture is very social, invest in a well-designed café area that encourages interaction.

Whilst working in our slippers may never be a reality for most of us, implementing these strategies can go a long way toward increasing staff morale and helping to achieve healthy, productive work-life balance.

Trying to work out the balance between standard workstations and complimentary areas that provide for these comfort factors, such as private spaces, informal meeting or collaboration areas and staff café’s, can be overwhelming if this is something you are unaccustomed to doing.  Using a professional corporate interior design company who has all the knowledge and lots of experience will help to make the transition to new ways of working, a smooth and easier process. Reviewing management styles and company policies can go a long way to achieving employee buy-in.

Written by Jessica Kearns

References

Allen, T.D., Golden, T.D & Shockley, K.K. (2015). How Effective Is Telecommuting: Assessing the Status of Our Scientific Findings. Psychological Science in the Public Interest, 16(2), 40-68. Doi: 10.1177/1529100615593273