Business First | Home-Working - Evidence suggests that it isn't…

Is home-working really working?

05 May 2017 –– News

How well does home-working stack up against working from the office?

This is a subject we’ve covered before, from both sides of the argument. Take a look at our blogs showing the argument for home-working and the argument against home-working, to find out in depth points that support each perspective.

Here, however, we’ll take a look at some points we didn’t cover previously. Most of which, admittedly, make it look like the future is possibly brighter for workers who prefer to be based from the office than many people have prophesised.

The evidence

A recent study on the subject published in Psychological Science in the Public Interest found that although working from home can be beneficial to both employers and employees, it becomes detrimental if an employee works from home too much.

How does the study quantify ‘too much’? Well, anything more than 15.1 hours per week, as it happens. Less than two days.

People who report that they work from home for more than 15.1 hours per week actually display decreased job satisfaction and productivity, the study found.

It was also found that some of the historically championed benefits of home-working don’t stand up to scrutiny.

According to the authors. There is “little empirical evidence to suggest that telecommuting is a generally effective way to mitigate work-family conflict.”

Home-working stifles productivity and creativity

Furthermore, Ben Waber, CEO of Sociometric Solutions, a consulting firm that studies remote working has this to say on the subject: “the vast majority of stuff we do at work today – teamwork, not individual work – that is the stuff that really measurably suffers.” Depending on the size of the company, this loss of productivity can be worth millions of pounds a year.

Many proponents of working from the office as opposed to home-working will tell you that it is more likely that staff will come up with something brilliant in a face-to-face, spontaneous environment where you can interact, in person, with colleagues who have different ideas and perspectives.

I myself found this to be the case recently, when driving back from London with a couple of colleagues; we were talking about how we could improve on things we are currently doing, what works, what doesn’t work, all that sort of thing, and it was as a result of this spontaneous conversation that we came up with, what we think, is one of the best ideas we have had. (More to come on this subject!)

Waber elaborates on why home-working isn’t fit for purpose in these instances, saying, “The technology we have today is not good enough to facilitate those interactions.” And given that Google, Yahoo!, Facebook and Apple all actively discourage working from home, he looks like he might well be right.

Waber’s research even found that “people in tight-knit, face-to-face groups had job satisfaction that was 30% higher” than those who worked from home more than they worked from the office.

Working from the office works

According to Cary Cooper, professor of organisational psychology and health at Lancaster University Management School, one of the primary reasons that remote-working can reduce feelings of belonging, and thus productivity, is that “people want social contact. When you work remotely, there’s a risk you’ll feel isolated socially. People also worry that the infrastructure they need to work at home – their internet connection or their computer – will let them down, or that their family will interrupt them.”

Working from the office, at least three days a week, it seems, is better for productivity, better for creativity and better for staff morale as well. And, while working from home can be a good thing, doing it too much reduces productivity, hampers innovation and dramatically reduces creativity and the feeling of belonging in employees.

If you need help creating an office space that can help your business attract and retain the highest calibre of employee in your field, come and see your local Business First and see how we can help you create the bespoke office space to suit your needs.