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Thanks to advances in technology, more and more people are choosing to work from home. According to Forbes, more than 1.54 million people in the UK work from home in their main job, and 8 million people in the US work from home.
For employees, there are a number of advantages to working from home. For many, the lack of commute is a huge bonus as it means they can get their kids to school or, alternatively, start their day much earlier than they could if they had to commute to the office.
It has also been proven to reduce stress — 24% of people who work from home at least once a month are reportedly happier and more productive at their jobs than their office counterparts. It can also help to retain talent, prolonging the careers of older workers and helping to close the gender gap.
With all these benefits, it’s no wonder employees are looking to work from home more and more. But how should managers approach and manage employees working from home?
From a management perspective
From a management perspective, allowing employees to work from home is a big decision. For many employees, there may be a genuine need to work from home — for example, if they are a carer or they have a disability.
But it’s always important to analyze the specific job role to see whether it can be completed from home, and also the personality of the individual — there are many people who simply would not be able to motivate themselves to work while away from the office.
The pros of letting employees work from home:
- For many employees, they’re more productive.
- It can save you money on office space.
- Communication and technology is now so efficient that they won’t miss out on what’s happening in the office.
- It helps with employee retention — people who work remotely are less likely to leave the company for other employment.
The cons of letting employees work from home:
- There may be a cost to the business for initially setting up the home to work remotely.
- Teamwork may suffer if the business requires face-to-face communication between employees.
- The workflow may be affected, depending on what technology and communication platforms you put in place.
- For employees, there can be isolation issues and distractions at home which may mean they struggle with productivity.
What you need to consider when managing remote employees
Of course, when making such a big decision, it’s important to consider both the employee’s situation and the ability of the business to cater to their needs.
Here are some things you should ask yourself before making the decision about whether to allow staff to work from home.
Is the employee in a situation where they need to work from home?
For example, it may be easier for parents to work from home should their child need them. While it may sound counterproductive to allow parents to work from home so they can be there for their kids, you’d be amazed at how much a parent gets done during school hours.
Alternatively, your employee may have a disability that prevents them from getting into the office. In order to ensure they’re comfortable throughout their careers and avoid burnout, they may need to work from home. Another example of when it’s a good idea to allow employees to work from home is if they work odd hours.
Is their job conducive to working from home?
There are some jobs that are and aren’t suited to working from home. For example, some employees may work with sensitive information. In this case, it’s probably not a great idea for that information to be leaving the office.
Of course, if the employee is, for example, part of your design or editorial department, these kinds of jobs are easy to do from anywhere – as long as there’s a good internet connection available.
Can your company cater to employees working from home?
Do you have the right kind of technologies to allow for staff to work remotely? If not, it may be time to set the business up with some communication and remote access software.
It’s also important to consider what kind of equipment your staff needs to work from home. If it’s merely a laptop, then you may be ok. However, if it’s other more technical equipment, it may not be feasible.
It’s here to stay
While your company’s decision as to whether to let staff work remotely may be up in the air, one thing is certain — working from home is here to stay. In fact, 77% of workers have said they’re more likely to accept a job offer if it comes with the ability to work from home at least some of the time. So, if you’re not set up for staff to work remotely, it’s definitely time to consider it.