For many, working from home seems like a luxury. It’s a flexible benefit that costs the organization virtually nothing, but gives the employee countless perks. As someone who has worked from home for 12 years, I am positive I couldn’t transition back into cubicle-life.
Working from home allows employees to save gas money, reduce their carbon footprint, and reduce their morning stress thanks to a no-car commute to the “office.” While they do have to buy their own coffee, they usually save money overall and eat healthier because they’re not limited to (or tempted by) the fast food options near the office. Work from home employees also save money on office attire and dry cleaning since they’re not dressing to impress.
The employer benefits from flexible work options, too. Often, individuals who work from home will still work when they are sick. They don’t have to be concerned about spreading germs to coworkers, but feel well enough to get work done, so productivity doesn’t stall. For parents, being able to work from home is a definite perk since their sick days also include all of the sick days for their children.
The number one reason employers give for not allowing employees to work from home is decreased communication/collaboration. In 2018, this is an absurd claim. With an abundance of free or low-cost, reliable video-conferencing tools, screen-sharing options, and collaboration platforms, staying connected every second of the day is no challenge. And, if your team isn’t literally sitting in the same room as one another right now, they’re probably “communicating and collaborating” by email and chat more often than in-person right now anyway.
Working from home has been shown to increase productivity, improve job satisfaction and work-life balance. It also saves the company roughly $11,000/year per telecommuting employee. It also saves the employee roughly $4,000 per year and gives them an additional 11 days of productivity a year.
So, with all these benefits and the collaboration myth debunked, why do some employers still refuse a flexible schedule option? Trust. Putting all the statistics aside, there is a fundamental lack of trust. No matter how many studies show productivity increases when working from home, if the manager can’t trust the employee, then the arrangement will never work.
That same employee who strolls through the door at 9:30 every morning with an excuse for why they’re late will still be late when logging in from home. It’s an issue of personal accountability and lack of respect and if it’s a problem in the office, it will be a problem when working from home.
But, that’s no reason to stop the rest of the team from working from home. The bad apple won’t fail to spoil the bunch just because you can keep an eye on it. Unless you’re literally working side-by-side with the employee you can’t trust, then the same productivity issues are leaking their way into your office. The issue isn’t work location. The issue is the character of the individuals you hired and if you can trust them to be as accountable, driven, and motivated at home as they are in the office.
If the answer is no, then forcing everyone into the office won’t solve the real problem. The bad apple will still spoil no matter where the basket is located.