4 Misconceptions about staff working from home

Working from home is on the rise and is now an accepted part of the way we work but it still causes a lot of debate about whether it’s an effective way of working. Obviously for certain jobs it’s simply not possible (e.g. fireman, surgeon, factory workers etc) but in today’s modern office environment employees now expect to have the option of being able to work from home. It’s something we look for when carrying out job searches and with Millennials likely to move jobs up to 15 times (source: NBCnews.com) you can expect employees to leave jobs in search of a role which provides benefits such as this.

As an employer you want to keep your best workers and make sure they are happy and productive. However, maybe you have your doubts over introducing a work from home policy into your business. You’re not alone in having concerns and fears about letting staff work from home, many have them but to try and put your mind at ease we’re going to take a look at 4 common misconceptions about working from home.

1. It’s not secure

Let’s face it, people can be careless at times and I’m sure you’ve dealt with people in your organisation who constantly losing things like their phone or office pass. So it’s natural to worry that if they lose a phone or a laptop which has access to company data it poses a potential security risk. Unfortunately, human error will happen and someone will leave a laptop on a train or in a coffee shop but security preventions are a lot better than they used to be. Modern IT solutions can completely irradiate this risk by hosting all data in one secure environment, no matter where the user is. This is commonly achieved through solutions like Hosted Desktops. The benefits of these are that the device can be remotely locked or wiped wipe it within minutes to prevent any loss of corporate information.

2. It’s too costly

People often think that giving employees the ability to work from home will be expensive as they’ll have to shell out for expensive IT equipment that is set up to access company data and applications. This may have been true in the past where a laptop or PC would have to be configured with the required VPN connections etc but who’s to say you have to pay for a device for them? The rise in Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) and Bring Your Own Technology (BYOT ) initiatives mean that employees personal computers can be easily configured to access their work data much easier than in the past. This approach is also very secure as multi-factor authentication can be set up on devices. Most people have some sort of device at home so these can be leveraged to save you having to spend a fortune kitting out those who want to work from home. Employees don’t mind using their own device as they know it benefits them. Also work phones can easily be auto-forwarded to personal mobiles so someone working from home is easily reachable by both phone and email .

3. It inhibits collaboration

You probably think your staff work better when in the office where they are able to bounce ideas off each other and attend meetings increases innovation. This may be true in some companies but there are also a lot of businesses who use communication and collaboration tools like Skype, Lync, Webex, Slack and MS Teams (which comes free with Office 365) to great effect regardless of whether staff are in the same building or spread out.

There is also an alternate viewpoint that says there are too many distractions in the modern workplace and too many meetings (no one’s ever gone home thinking “I wish I’d been in more meetings today!”). So where some see collaboration and staff bouncing ideas off each other, some see being in the office as a day spent with constant distractions and interruptions, which aren’t an issue when someone works from home. A University of Cardiff study found that people who work from home are in fact more productive.

4. It’s a bit of a skive

Our final misconception is probably the biggest one which prevents bosses implementing a work from home policy – lack of trust. It’s no secret that some people just don’t get the whole working from home thing and assume that the person isn’t working as hard as someone in the office. I’ve worked in companies before where the following conversation happens all the time:

Person 1: “Where’s Dave today?”
Person 2: “He’s working from home today.”
Person 1: “Oh yeah bet he is…”

Cynicism will always be there from managers and co-workers but just because some will roll their eyes and assume it’s just a skive doesn’t mean there’s any truth in it. It’s actually quite common to see employees be more productive when working from home as they aren’t constantly interrupted by people appearing at their desk with endless questions or being dragged into meetings. It can be the perfect environment to work on certain projects that require concentration and quiet. They will often do extra hours too as the time they usually spend commuting is instead used doing work.

Staff can’t trick bosses by working from home, good management still works whether your employees are office or home based. You know what they should be working on and you’ll be able to see if their output levels are where you’d want them to be or not.

So don’t let the negative voices put you off. The ‘hilarious’ jokes about being sat at home watching Jeremy Kyle and Loose Women will always be there but it can be a great positive for staff that embrace it, one that keeps them happy and you’ll probably find home workers end up going above and beyond their contracted hours.

Aim for a hybrid set up
In reality your staff aren’t likely to work from home 5 days a week so you’ll probably end up with a hybrid system that gives you the best of both worlds.

For example, staff can schedule their week so on Monday they’re in the office and you can have any team meetings and planning sessions you need to map out what needs to be worked on that week. Concentrating all the meetings on one day allows them to then carry out the work Tuesday and Wednesday, be back in the office Thursday to catch up with others in their department before being at home on Friday to finish off anything still to do and clear the decks before Monday and it starts all over again.

A hybrid set up gives your company greater flexibility in terms of the geographic location you can attract staff from and also allows you to save money on office running costs by implementing a hot desk system e.g. if 10% of your staff work from home you could reduce your office space by 10%.

To find out more introducing remote working solutions for your company please get in touch with us today.

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