Home working may be more productive

Employees who work from home get more work done than their colleagues in the office, mainly because there is less distraction, they appreciate the flexibility, and spend part of commuting time working, researchers at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) found.

The researchers say that their findings support a general move towards more flexible working practices in the United Kingdom. However, the private sector appears to be lagging behind regarding home working.

Although home working has many benefits for employee satisfaction, happiness and productivity, it does not suit everybody, says Dr. Alexandra Beauregard, who works at the LSE’s Department of Management.

Dr Beauregard said:

“The happiest employees are those who can work partially from home and partially in the office. They report the highest levels of work/life satisfaction because they can juggle personal responsibilities yet are not socially isolated.”

Very gregarious or extrovert individuals tend to work better in an office environment.

Home working allows for flexible hours, which tends to be better at making the most of each person’s individual strengths, the researchers explained.

Dr. Beauregard said “If people are night owls and their employer is happy for them to work at home from 10pm through to 5am, this can work to the company’s benefit. It just depends on the role and the level of personal interaction needed with their colleagues and the public.”

For the employer, the more home workers there are, the lower the costs. If a higher percentage of employees are working at home, the employer spends less on office space and other overheads.

The study also found that staff tend to rate their employer more highly if flexible working arrangements are offered.

Regarding benefits for the environment, Dr. Beauregard noted “On a broader scale, flexible working hours have a positive spinoff for the environment and transport networks because there are less carbon emissions and fewer traffic snarls.”

Workplaces now need to develop a tool that can determine who is psychologically or socially suited to home working.

Yahoo stopped home working

In February 2013, The Guardian reported that Marissa Mayer, CEO of Yahoo, banned employees from working remotely (home working). Thousands of staff were sent a memo telling them that “to become the absolute best place to work, communication and collaboration will be important, so we need to be working side-by-side. That is why it is critical that we are all present in our offices.”

Employees were given until June to relocate their home office to a Yahoo office or resign.

The memo added “Some of the best decisions and insights come from hallway and cafeteria discussions, meeting new people, and impromptu team meetings. Speed and quality are often sacrificed when we work from home.”