We have seen a big generational shift in the way people want to work. With hefty commutes, parental responsibilities and….cold weather…72% of employees are taking advantage of flexible working practices and choosing to work from home; employers wanting to retain their best staff and slash overheads, are allowing it.
With your laptop on a nice warm sofa and tea on tap, it might seem like there are no downsides to ‘remote’ or ‘agile’ working. However, there are a couple of things to consider before you make the shift.
There are many mutual benefits for both parties when it comes to flexible working, least of all the great impression it can have on your company culture and staff satisfaction.
One advantage of remote working is being able to access untapped workforce’s that otherwise wouldn’t have been able to work. With childcare costs rising, 43% of highly accomplished women stop their careers in order to start a family according to the Harvard business review. It can also mean that new fathers, who can take a maximum of 56 paternity days, can juggle childcare with working hours.
As rent and commercial property prices increase, employers are also keen to cut desk vacancy rates and downsize to smaller properties. This is something that can be achieved by flexible working and hot desk environments. American Express reported saving a whopping $10-15 million annually in real estate alone.
On top of this you could also save money, time and stress by cutting out the saga of your daily commute. And let’s face it, when it’s -5°C outside, working from home in your pajamas sounds great.
At work, regular screen users in offices of 5 people or more are protected with display screen equipment (DSE) assessment. During this your assessor will make sure that your workstation is set up correctly, fit for purpose and comfortable. This might not sound like a ground breaking bonus, but this health and safety requirement by law, will protect you from lifelong Muscular Skeletal Disorders that can be caused by something as simple as the wrong height desk.
“Research showed that employees who work remotely got less positive performance evaluations, smaller pay rises and fewer promotions than their office-based colleagues”- Mobile Generations, Orangebox
A recent survey by Jabra established that one in three home workers felt that home working was putting their career and progression at risk due to a lack of visibility compared to their peers in the office. This study also revealed that many in the UK are mistrusting of their remote counterparts with 13% having the perception that home workers don’t work as hard and 31% believing they undertake personal tasks during work time.
On the other end of the spectrum, this study also revealed that these remote workers tended to overwork, feeling obliged to answer emails around the clock. An estimated 10.4 million working days between 2011/12 were lost due to work related stress, making it the 2nd highest priority issue in the workplace after muscular skeletal disorders. Whether you are in the office, or at home, it is important that you know how to manage stress effectively.
Our top tips for remote workers
- If you have decided to work from home, we think that it is important to have a dedicated workspace so that you can retain more regimented working hours. We spoke about the need of a ‘room of one’s own’ in a recent guardian article
- It is vital to set up your workstation correctly. Working on the sofa with a laptop won’t cut the mustard. Make sure that you have a good chair, desk and separate keyboard, just as you would in the office
- It is common for remote workers to feel lonely. We recommend a balance between working from home and visiting your colleagues in the office
- Remote working doesn’t work for everyone. Make sure that you schedule regular performance review to discuss issues and progression with your supervisor. If you find that you can’t concentrate with the inevitable distractions at home, it’s time to go back to the office
- Unless agreed otherwise, make sure that you are available when your peers are. If work starts at 9am, you need to be at your desk
- Make sure that you take regular breaks, move around and step out into the sunshine on your lunch
- Gather up all the facts and ask your employer what benefits you are still entitled to. Maybe you could negotiate benefits like a subsidised offsite gym or if you are entitled to an ergonomic assessment at home.