(or Non-Evidence Based Dogma!)
The ongoing saga of senior Government figures discussing the consequence of the pandemic continued last week with the Prime Minister arguing that working from home really is a matter of endless coffee breaks and being “distracted by cheese”! They may have a point, they themselves may easily be distracted by cheese, or indeed wine.
Whatever their reasons, there has never been a simple answer to whether it is best to work from the office or home
In general, most studies have shown that homeworking is predominantly a benefit, with increases in productivity, job satisfaction and worklife balance. A study carried out a few years ago of 16,000 workers found that their productivity had increased by 13% due to working from home. This particular study followed call centre staff who had a quieter, more convenient working environment at home, allowing more calls per minute and fewer breaks or sick days. The same study saw staff retention improve by 50%.
Other studies show that some tasks may be performed better in an office environment, but these are mainly “boring, repetitive tasks” which allow for easy distraction within the home environment. The same study reported that productivity improved at home when the task was more creative; with fewer constraints “interesting” work was completed quicker.
As technology has improved and the rapid forced transition to hybrid or homeworking caused by the pandemic more recent studies show a mixed picture with some businesses having decreased productivity (22.5%) and others having improved (32.5%).
CNN reported that a massive 94% of employers surveyed by Mercer, the HR and workplace benefits organisation said that company productivity had increased or stayed the same. Drilling down further this can be split to 67% saying it remained the same and 27% saying it had improved. This added to the additional benefits of improved employee experience and being able to approach an expanded talent pool.
Clearly then, working from home can offer benefits for some employees and businesses alike. And this is how it should be examined for your business, certainly the non evidence-based approach from Messrs. Johnson, Rees-Mogg et al should be taken with a massive pinch of salt. There may well be instances where working from home could be less efficient if office-based data or collaboration is not possible remotely but as with most business practice, full analysis and empirical data should be the driver. This is echoed in Lynda Gratton’s book “Redesigning Work – How to transform you organisation and make hybrid work for everyone”
Essentially this is nothing new but simply an extension of designing ways of working in a demand responsive organisation, with the emphasis on where work happens.
This is basically as it says on the tin structuring your business and systems around the demands of your organisation with the ability to match predictable and, to a degree, unpredictable changes.
These demands come from many sources, the basic ones being customers and the external market outside the organisation, operational employees, and the internal company market. These may lead to implicit time or seasonally predictable patterns but also include employee preferences and requirements as well as availability of resource, whether human or machine or goods. Some of these, such as job satisfaction, may not be as quantifiable and now may also include place of work. Business requirements for cost outlay and profit to be made must also be considered.
Probable future demands must also be considered – will they be the same as current demands? How much are they likely to differ? What will this change mean to organisational structures and plans? Can this be matched through current flexibilities, or do we have to plan changes in the road ahead to get there? Undoubtedly, as the pandemic has shown us, not everything can be predicted and planned for, but a good deal of it can and if we take what we do know or expect into account then the path getting there will be smoother.
This isn’t rocket science but is often ignored as business slowly grow and develop organically rather than strategically. Attendance patterns and places of work remain the same with additions to account for growth resulting in ineffective and costly ways of working. So, the current and expected future demands must be examined, meshed together, and reinforce each other
So, “work” may no longer be a place but the actions performed!
And, wherever your employees are based whether at home, on site or elsewhere the Crown Workforce Management system gives you the power to manage your workforce more flexibly and efficiently than ever before. Our secure mobile app supports remote and hybrid workers and on-site workers in exactly the same way.
Meanwhile, our consultants will be with you every step of the way as you reshape your company’s working arrangements, align flexibilities and plan for the future.
We are highly experienced in doing this to help our clients get better control over workforce costs and build on this partnership with their employees. We help businesses to: