If statistics are to be believed, this business model is likely to change the face of employment over the next few years. As a nation, we are now moving away from the traditional concept of work being something that takes place during designated hours in a specific setting to one in which work and life are increasingly integrated.
This can have its drawbacks, with people who work from home often complaining that their work now invades every aspect of their lives rather than existing within set parameters. There is a sense of being ‘on call’, yet many people are choosing to work from home because it conveys significant benefits compared with being confined to an office.
Employers must sit up and take notice. There are now 1.5 million home workers in the UK, of which 900,000 are women. This is not to mention the other 4.2 million who work from home some of the time.
Many organisations that permit home working amongst their workforce report a 35-40 per cent increase in productivity. This may be down to the fact that less time is wasted chatting to co-workers over the photocopier; fewer interactions mean fewer distractions.
The ability of some home workers to work extra hours also inevitably has an impact upon productivity, and does comfort, more exposure to the outdoors, and better access to nutritional food and drink.
Home workers can also feel more in control of setting their own goals and targets rather than having agendas set by management. This self-determination probably increases productivity because people work better when they feel in control rather than micromanaged.
Achieving your goals and targets whilst working from home requires discipline and a clear, quiet workspace; otherwise, you will end up spending far too much time procrastinating with laundry or daytime TV.
Overall productivity in a team is increased if managers allow home working during sickness, as the person can still contribute if desired during absence from the office and the germs are kept away and don’t spread to the whole team!
Home workers can combine caring responsibilities with earning a living. Female home working has increased by 35 per cent since 2005; in addition, 160,000 people who the TUC officially classes as disabled currently earn from home, indicating that home working opens up horizons for those unable to access the traditional workplace.
Expensive commuting is a thing of the past for home workers; in addition, the time they are gaining from cutting out the commute can be used to earn extra money or boost productivity. For employers, recruitment costs are reduced by allowing home working, with many companies reporting that it boosts retention rates. Savings are also made by companies through productivity gains.
Companies and self-employed individuals also save money – by allowing home working, they cut out many of their overheads. Firms that lean heavily on home workers can even eliminate the need for office premises full stop.
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