Working from home is sometimes frowned upon but why? For the employer, working from home is an age old debate between offering job flexibility whilst maintaining productivity. There are many variables which will determine its success – type of business, type of clients, technology available, commute / distance from the office, the individuals concerned etc.
This year, Yahoo! banned its employees from working from home – it wasn’t the first business to do this and it certainly won’t be the last. This decision was made by Marissa Mayer (Yahoo!’s CEO) when she returned from maternity leave. Was it an irrational knee jerk reaction or an informed decision by a forward thinking executive? This provoked Richard Branson to respond immediately citing that it was a “backwards step in an age when remote working is easier and more effective than ever”.
The figure for people working primarily from home now stands at around 13% according to The Office for National Statistics which was recently boosted by the increased number of self-employed (as a result of the recession) and the expansion of broadband.
Technology has become so advanced and readily available that most of us now have the capability of working from home with laptops, smartphones, tablets, cloud access, fast broadband and live chat facilities like Skype and FaceTime. It is the softer / non-tangible side of work such as motivation, the benefits of human interaction and a manager’s urge to control workflow which is more subjective.
The rising cost of commuting is also a consideration. A “super commuter” travelling from outside London into the city centre can be paying £4,000 - £6,000 per year on travel alone. London salaries are admittedly higher which will offset some of that cost but this is still a significant amount which could be saved by working from home, even if it was only for a couple of days per week.
Frequently in my job, candidates tell me they want a better work / life balance which I can completely relate to. All work and no play makes for a fairly exhausting existence but if that balance can be addressed by working flexibly, then surely it has to be worth consideration. At Forward Role, we encourage our clients to offer flexible working, particularly to candidates with young families who need that balance.
Marketing is becoming more and more digital as new technologies continue to emerge. There will always be a place for offline and face-to-face communication but a lot of what we do nowadays can be done remotely. Our industry is perfectly suited to working from home but the big question is: will your boss allow it?!
A massive factor in all of this is the individual – he/she must be trustworthy, responsible enough to manage their own daily workload, and prove that they can marry productivity with autonomy. Gaining that trust with your employer won’t happen overnight; you’ll need to work hard and earn it!