The number of employees working from home in office-type jobs, or roles involving travel where home is used as a base, is steadily increasing.
There are many factors contributing to the rise in the number of staff working remotely or from home and they can include:
- Employers looking to cut overheads of business rates, rents and utility bills by reducing office space.
- Technology making it easier for some roles to be performed anywhere.
- More employees asking for some flexibility in where they work and the hours they work – both inside and outside of the organisation’s core hours. This is largely so they can better manage their personal lives.
- Increasing numbers of employees with responsibilities caring for family, including the elderly.
- Rising costs of commuting.
- Government policies encouraging people with disabilities back into work.
Home-working can present challenges to both employers and employees but there are advantages and disadvantages on both sides which we have explored below:
Advantages of Home Working
- Increased productivity: Output from employees working from home often improves due to fewer interruptions than in the office. There can also be greater commitment and loyalty from employees who value being able to work from home.
- Reduced overheads: Lower rent, business rates and utility bills when office space is decreased after staff move out to work from home. Or, if a business is running out or short of office space, it might negotiate an arrangement where certain categories of staff can work from home.
- Wider choice when hiring: Being able to recruit from a larger pool of talent because where potential employees currently live may be less of a factor in whether they apply.
- More ideas: Attracting a more diverse workforce – including, for example, staff with disabilities or caring responsibilities – can bring the potential for a wider range of talent and innovation.
- Growing reputation: Being known as a flexible employer can help attract and keep talented staff, and play a part in winning over stakeholders and customers.
- Going green: Helping the environment by cutting down on commuting. In addition, homeworkers can be less affected by bad weather or travel disruption.
Disadvantages of Home Working
However, there are many disadvantages to working from home such as;
- The fact that you may struggle managing those working from home and have difficulty monitoring their performance; in some cases deterioration in employees’ skills and work quality is noticed so it is worth keeping a close eye on home working employees.
- There can also be a cost to you for employees working from home as they may need additional equipment or training to work from home, they may need new phone lines or an improved broadband service so they can work with ease from home.
- Home working can also lead to a difficulty in maintaining the development of staff and upgrading their skills as many will learn more from those around them, but working alone they cannot gain these additional skills and experiences. There is also the security risk with personal and private information that could be more likely to occur at home and needs to be looked at very seriously.
- You may need to look at how you will cover the home workers telephone bills, which will obviously rise, or perhaps supply them with a company mobile phone. On the point of communications, those working from home can feel alone or isolated so it is important to make them feel part of the team either by inviting them to work outings or regular team meetings via Skype; this will also help boost the morale of home working employees.
- Another possible disadvantage is that not all jobs suit working from home, so you need to take the time to discuss with the employee how they feel their role could work if they were working from home and if they would need to split their time between home and work to stay fully informed and involved with the business.
If you are thinking about introducing home-working and would like some advice contact aspire cambridge on 01223 855441, we will be only too happy to discuss if this way of working could work within your business.