How cool is it we are fortunate enough to live in world where we are no longer limited to accomplishing all of our work from the confines of an office? Working from home is a blessing, but it is not for everyone. There are many factors management must consider before giving their employees this liberty.
Working from Home
Think back to how our parents and grandparents were raised in that a job was an 8:00 to 5:00 ordeal that was generally associated with a time consuming commute. The commute alone could easily add another hour of wasted time to your day. It used to be that if someone was not physically at the workplace then they were thought to not be working.
My, how times have changed thanks to our ‘ole pal the internet. Cheap and easy access to Virtual Private Networks now allow us to take our work anywhere in the world…with the exception of countries with heavily regulated internet policies, but we will save that topic for another day
Now don’t get me wrong, I do realize that this topic predominantly applies to white-collar jobs. Unfortunately, manual labor still has to conform to 8:00 to 5:00 structure as it can be quite difficult to pack up an assembly line and bring it on the road with you. It is hard to imagine a day when blue collar work will be able to evolve into a more flexible work schedule. But who knows, self-driving cars were once a fantasy as well.
Did you ever wonder how we got to where we are now? Human beings are supposed to crave structure, so how did we devolve into a lack of structure for getting work accomplished? Working from 8:00 to 5:00 always made sense in that we knew that from Monday to Friday we would dedicate eight hours of each day to our jobs. Outside of that eight hour window, we can find a work life balance by spending time with family, exercising and/or leisurely watching TV and reading books. There was a method to the madness. Now we simply logon to our computers at any hour of the day, or night for that matter, and knock out some work. When you put it that way, it kind of sounds crazy. Routines are supposed to be healthy, both mentally and physically.
Effects on Productivity
One would think that this change, in the once perceived norm, could be attributed to the ever growing population. From a statistical perspective, it is bad practice to lump an entire population into one bucket of assumptions. Every human being is unique but there is overlap which allows us to group populations into multiple buckets. Some people crave routines while others can get by just fine flying by the seat of their pants. Someone with a quasi-rebellious attitude to constantly go against the grain can still provide additional value to a business. Generally, these types of people tend to fall into the Outside-the-Box Thinkers demographic which every business needs in order to continue to grow and thrive. When you try to make these people conform to your preset way of operating you tend to get sub-par results from said individuals.
The greatest benefit of adhering to a flexible work schedule is that you allow your employees the opportunity to spread their wings. Some people are geared to be able to contribute more between the hours of 10:00pm and 6:00am so why try and fit a square peg into a round hole and make them work from 8:00 to 5:00.
However, flexible work scheduling does not come without drawbacks. When adhering to this philosophy, you are putting a fair amount of trust into your workforce. It is very easy to abuse and take advantage of this kind of freedom. While there are plenty of go-getters around, there are also those just looking for the path of least resistance. Sometimes it can be easy to spot those who will take advantage of this type of management style by just listening to the questions the prospective applicant is asking. Are they a little too focused on the freedom the job will entail? Most of the time, abuse of this type of system will be noticed over time as the bad apples identify ways to game the system and productivity begins to stagnate. The best hedge to guard against abuse is implementing a checks and balances system that holds employees accountable for their contributions. Deadlines Deadlines Deadlines! I cannot emphasize this enough. Bottlenecks will begin to rear their ugly heads when deadlines are not established and enforced.
All in all, working from home can have a great and positive impact on a business’ productivity. That said, it is a matter of Human Resources. It is not a system that should be taken lightly or else it stands to be taken for granted, ultimately costing the company more than it contributes.
Article written by Vaughn Pourchot