Home-based working is nothing new and millions of people around the world carry out all or some of their professional activities from their own offices every day. But there are still some people who consider the practice to be undesirable from an employer’s perspective. So, is homeworking really working?
Well, not according to Yahoo’s chief executive Marissa Meyer, whose company sent out a memo in early 2014 insisting that employees work “side-by-side” as much as possible.
Explaining the decision, which has come in for widespread criticism from all corners, the memo said: “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.”
The now infamous memo, which was leaked soon after it was issued, seems to suggest that working from home is an inherently and unavoidably isolating way of operating. But, with the wonders of modern communications technologies, surely that doesn’t have to be the case.
Most full-time employees who take up the option of working from home also operate at times from their employer’s main offices. How frequently and for what reasons they do so will vary of course but the advent of smartphones, tablets and innovative platforms such as GoToMeeting, not to mention the internet and emails, surely means Ms Meyer’s approach is seriously outdated.
Certainly, one of Britain’s best known businessmen appears to think so with Virgin supremo Richard Branson describing the Yahoo memo as “a backward step in an age where remote working is easier and more effective than ever”.
But perhaps the most compelling argument against the idea that home working is bad for business can be illustrated by Ms Meyer’s own circumstances, with the Yahoo CEO having operated from her California home in the months after giving birth.
The reality of the modern world and its workplaces is that employees place a good deal of value on flexibility. Whether in the context of maternity, paternity, parenting, caring for dependent family members or the work-life balance equation, working from home can make a real difference. And that difference isn’t only for employees to consider but employers too, who run the risk of losing their brightest and best to rivals unless they can maintain and support morale throughout their workforce.
Ultimately, it seems likely that, like so much else in the realms of business, the question of whether home working is working is a matter of judgement and circumstance. Some company bosses will feel that they need their staff in the same place as one another every day, while others will see the value of flexibility and aim to make full use of the latest telecoms technologies that are available. There is perhaps therefore no right or wrong approach but the future would certain seem likely to involve an increase in home working rather than a reduction, even if Ms Meyer doesn’t necessarily like it.
Edited and produced by Stephen Moore – Marketing Director
Stephen Moore is the Global Marketing Director for meetingrooms.com and Search office Space. An active blogger and article writer, Steve has also appeared as a guest on BBC Radio 2 Drivetime, Sky News and France 24 amongst others talking about business, commercial property and marketing.
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