Are You Tuning In To Phil And Holly Or Actually Working…When You Work From Home?

working from home

Have Our Attitudes Toward Working From Home Changed?

The critical question I guess is are you for or against working from home? That’s what we asked people to vote on in a post on LinkedIn.

We hoped for a dozen or more answers and a few comments.

What actually happened was quite different. With over 500 comments and counting, we got a literal avalanche of material to delve into what is obviously a hot topic.

At the time of writing, a whopping 117,534 people have viewed this post. But it’s the comments and the vote itself which revealed more.

The Conclusion: Are people for or against working from home?

We asked people to vote on these options:

A – I am completely FOR homeworking – the benefits outweigh the drawbacks.

B – I am AGAINST homeworking – the drawbacks outweigh any benefits.

C – I am UNDECIDED – both have equal merit.

…a number of people also chose “D” – which the consensus had as a combination of both working from home as well as your place of work.

working from home survey chart

Okay, It’s An Overwhelming Vote For Homeworking, But Why?

Before we even look at the reasons why, it’s worth looking at the votes themselves because they disguise a big issue which was raised time and again.

Adam Lomas, a Demand Planner at Mars Petcare Europe based in Leicester summed it well when he said:

“If you don’t trust somebody you hired to work from home and be productive then you hired the wrong person.”

That was a typical comment. Remembering back to the days when broadband first came out, trust was cited as a reason against it.

In other words, it was probably Richard & Judy back then, as opposed to Phil & Holly who would be tempting our early pioneers away from the task at hand.

It’s all about the results. A view echoed by Louise Graham, a Manager (Finance Shared Services) at Costa Coffee in London:

“It’s the 21st century and work is about delivery not presenteeism.”

What fascinated me to contrast this view, was the number of people suggesting productivity in the office is not necessarily any better.

“Just because you can observe them, doesn’t mean they are productive”.

Equally interesting was the number of people suggesting they are more productive at home without the distractions of colleagues.

That said, reading through over 500 comments on that post, the most popular choice was a blend, even for many simply voting “for”.

It’s a need to meet your colleagues at least occasionally.

But it was the issue of trust that made me ponder. I guess the thinking goes “If you give people freedom, they will take advantage”.

But is that true? Is micro-managing effective? If the work gets done, does it really matter if it’s done from the workplace or from home?

I believe people are more productive and motivated when given trust and freedom – for example the homeworking option. Technology allows us to monitor what’s delivered.

So, has that old-fashioned “crack the whip” management approach died a death? How important is it to feel trusted in your job?

That was a common theme in the comments. With systems to monitor output, the need for management is much reduced nowadays.

At your finger-tips, many have systems that let you know if the work is done or not. So, giving people freedom, it seems, reaps dividends for both parties.

Then there’s the congestion or crowded trains and buses issue. Nokuthula Moyo Mhazo, a Nottingham-based Project Co-ordinator summed it up by saying:

“…it offers flexibility and can free up time which would normally be used for commuting, as well as save money associated with the commute. Also contributes to cutting air pollution, hence environmentally friendly.”

For The Sake Of Balance, Why Are People Against It?

With only 9 votes against out of 409, it does appear as though there is little opposition.

And to be fair, even those voting this way didn’t appear to have any vehemence in their objections. Some it seems simply prefer to be working with others.

Mike Green, the Chairman of CMLA in London however made a very good point on this subject:

“In most cases where home working is possible it removes a really important factor. One to One Colleague collaboration an essential ingredient in breeding ideas, project team cohesion and actually finding work enjoyable.” 

The Future Is Bright – The Future Is Working From Home (In The Back Garden On That Rare Sunny UK Day).

My take on it is that we need to focus on a trusting management style. Let’s base it on results delivered rather than where you happen to achieve it from.

The days of micro-managing people could well be over as technology allows us to measure output without the “peering over your shoulder” style.

Thoughts?

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