The growth of homeworking
Becoming the norm in the 21st Century
In the 21st century where technology is becoming a vital part to most people’s lives, working from home is becoming more and more popular amongst people within certain job sectors. Cultural changes have also influenced a great number of employers to allow certain employees to work from home when it is in the best interests of each party for them to do so.
Increases in homeworking are most noticeable within roles in technology, professional services and also self-employment. The latter is mainly due to the increasing premises costs for small business, and those who are self-employed are now setting up their businesses from home to avoid these substantial costs. The increases found in technology and professional service roles is predominantly down to the advancement of certain technologies which allows people to perform their day job away from the office environment.
In many offices, people are so busy that the majority of their communications are via email or a company instant messaging service, and face to face talking is seen as “chit chat” just to pass the time. These services mentioned are of course available anywhere where there is a computer, and the increase in network security over the past few years means that employees are able to securely access their employer’s networks from the comfort of their own living room.
There is the argument that where homeworking is possible, employees are more productive than they would be if they were doing the same tasks in the office environment. Reasons for this include the lack of commute, the ability to dress casually and also the opportunity of structuring your working day around your life. Of course, one could claim that this could lead to decreased productivity as there would be the temptation to take multiple breaks and have the odd day off.
In reality, however, it does not pan out like that because normally those who do work from home are mature and self-disciplined enough to realise working from home could benefit both the employer and the employee if it is taken seriously and not exploited by those who may see it as an opportunity to be lazy.
Not only is working from home possible in some jobs, but there are more and more roles being created in which working from home is the ideal solution. This trend is particularly noticeable in areas such as consultancy where the individual employee spends a lot of their working time at the offices of clients. Rather than spending the other part of their time at their employer’s office, it is common for them to do all of their preparatory and analysis work at home. This is just one example of a job that allows people to spend a lot of their working time at home.
Even with the option of being able to work from home, not all those who are given such a choice choose to actually do it. Whilst it does have its benefits, a lot of people choose not to work from home for a number of various reasons. These can be things such as not feeling part of their team or wider organisation as a whole; they may be part of a team who all work from home and therefore never really experience personal contact with each other, leading to a sense of isolation. It can also be because some people truly like to completely separate their work and home lives. Those who are like this may not be able to fully focus whilst working from home and therefore would prefer to go in to the office where they are able to tackle their work with a much more directed attitude.
There are also of course certain roles which would, in theory, allow for home working to be possible; but in reality some workplaces will just never warm to the idea of letting their employees work from home for a number of reasons; its not practical, they see it as skiving or they feel they need to be able to keep an eye on their employees.
Undoubtedly, certain jobs will always have to be performed in the ‘workplace’ and it will never be realistic for them to be carried out from the comfort of the employee’s home. Take call centre workers for example. On the face of it, you may think that the calling agents could all work from home if they had a computer and telephone. However, this is an example of one job that will always need those who do it to be in the same place at the same time due to the fact that there is a certain culture surrounding it. Motivation is increased in that type of role when everyone is together, and the team spirit is also built on that same factor. Taking this away would very much be to the detriment of both the worker and the customer who receives their services; a thought on the forefront of all employer’s minds.
By Naina Bhardwaj