HOMEWORKING! ARE THERE ANY DISADVANTAGES TO THIS FLEXIBLE WORKING METHOD?
A study conducted by a PHD student at the London School of Economics believes that there are.
Recently there has been a lot of emphasis on homeworking and the positive impact that this can bring. Homeworking can help motivate employees as they see this as a benefit of the role; they have less commuting time and costs and it can provide a better work/life balance. Homeworking, whether that be full-time, part-time or ad-hoc, can make employees more productive if managed correctly.
However, there can be some downsides that are often overlooked. The study found that when homeworking was made a full-time arrangement, the benefits for both Employer and Employee seemed to disappear over time.
When employees were working from home full-time, it no longer felt like a benefit or privilege as this was now the norm. Plus, employees saw a rise in the cost of their utility bills, especially in the winter months.
The study also found that employees had no distinction between home and work and often found it more difficult to switch off from work.
A crucial finding was that homeworkers could start to feel isolated as they were not attending the office every day and having conversations with their colleagues. The ‘social’ element of attending a workplace and interacting with colleagues should not be overlooked. Indeed, this could even impact on the overall wellbeing of individuals, but you can look at strategies to minimise this. For example, an employee can attend the office at regular intervals or join the office via video conferencing links so that they can still interact with their colleagues and hear and see what is going on.
It is therefore important to take a balanced approach when considering homeworking or the request for homeworking from employees. There can be clear advantages, but equally it will not suit every individual or every business or job role.
If you are considering homeworking (or have had requests for homeworking), a good idea would be to trial this with employees for a period of time, to determine if it benefits both parties.
You may also want to look at YourHR.space to see how a clear policy and a formal application process can support you with managing any requests for homeworking (or other flexible working requests).
Flexible Working by Paula Fisher, published on 22nd August 2019