What Are The Best Reasons For Working From Home?

homeworkloungeWorking from home has heaps of benefits, from being productive in your pyjamas to letting you plot your working day around family and other commitments. But do bosses always take such a friendly view?

John Linton, director of Exetel (whose 3G broadband bundle is pretty well-liked by Lifehacker readers, discusses the concept of working from home in a recent blog post, which makes for interesting reading even if (like me) you don't agree with a lot of it. Although Exetel has long had staff work from their homes, Linton turns out not be a huge fan of the idea:

The ONLY reason that I think is beneficial for an employer and an employee for the employee to work from home is when a changed travel distance, time and cost become a factor in the employee's life and the employer doesn't want to lose their talents, skills and knowledge.

Speaking as someone who's now spent almost a decade deliberately not working full-time in an office, that seems like a rather limited world view. Linton also acknowledges that remote working can help gain access to skills that a company might not find in its local area, but doesn't want to give much shrift to the notion that people might be more productive working from home even when they live within commuting distance of the office. In particular, it seems to ignore the possibility of a more nuanced approach; working from home when appropriate, but collaborating face-to-face when that's desirable as well.

A boss like Linton would clearly be a hard sell on that broader outlook, but I'd be interested to know if readers have managed that. If you've successfully persuaded your boss to adopt more flexible working arrangements, let's hear how you managed it in the comments.


Comments

    If enough people were able to work from home, it could reduce strain on infrastructure E.g. roads, carparks, public transport, etc. You could even go as far to say that it's good for the environment :)

    Personally, I've worked from home since 2001 (I run a design business) and I've fell into a few bad habits occasionally, like erratic sleep patterns and over working - however, that's a self discipline issue - overall I love working from home due to the flexibility it allows, and my intense dislike for commuting.

    I think there are various reasons as to why employers resist the notion of having employees work from home when in certain scenarios it would be practical, some of those include: the fear of losing of (authoritarian?) control, lack of familiarity with collaboration tools (Skype, etc), and possibly just plain old vanity.

    Perhaps in a decade or so, the workforce will evolve to more efficient models and *finally* utilise the internet as a key component in workforce efficiency - but alas I'm not holding my breath.

    My company allows us to work at home when needed - usually it's limited to 1 day per week (and four in the office). Its quite convenient for me for personal reasons - I can sleep in a little, get all the housework and shopping done in the middle of the week (rather than having to try and find time to do it on weekends), and yet still get quite a lot of work done.

    Some days at home are very productive - no distractions from coworkers asking questions or long, irrelevant meetings - and some days aren't so productive when I just feel like being lazy.

    I'm quite happy with my company's flexible working policy. Within a project, there is usually a concensus of when we work at home, so generally it's always the same day when everyone on the project is at home and not in the office.

    I live close to my office but still work from home 3 days a week.

    The benefits include:

    * The midweek change of setting keeps me more motivated and creative
    * More time for sleeping and hobbies means I am more alert and enthusiastic
    * Over all, less distractions
    * Use my own computer, Aeron etc. which is better than the crummy office ones, means better health
    * My house is in a nicer area than the office, which is in the CBD. So I can go for a pleasant run in the park at lunch - meaning better health and well being.
    * More likely to work if I'm feeling a bit sick.

    Cons include:

    * Extra time spent setting up to network-in from home
    * Gets a bit lonely at home sometimes
    * Occasionally have to rush in to work if something comes up that can't be solved from home.

    I find I *always* work harder and longer hours at home, as the line between start/stop hours blurs; I login while I'm eating breakfast and the next thing I know it's getting dark outside. I figure if you're going to be lazy at home, you're probably just as likely to be lazy in the office (the two simply manifest themselves differently).

    Pretty much every week I do at least one day a week from home. Getting away from the desk and away from the 'walk ups', I find that I am at least twice as productive when working from home. Plus, I have lots of more recent and utility software at home, which is not available at work.
    I've purposely used a spare bedroom as my 'home office', and there is no TV or distractions in there (OK, maybe an MP3 or 2).

    It's just a shame that some people take 'work from home' days because they are planning long lunches or personal catchups during the day. Each time this happens and those people are unavailable, it's a step closer to the rest of us losing the privilege.

    I've been working from home for slightly over a year now. As my income is commission based, it's easier to guage how productive I'm being.

    I'll admit, I spend a lot of time on the internet, working on personal projects and disappearing for extended lunch breaks, but the few productive hours I do put in has actually seen my income increase over the last year by about 25%.

    God only knows what my income would be if I put in the full office hours productively!

    One thing I have noticed - I haven't taken a sick day in all the time I've been working from home. No matter how bad I'm feeling, I will do something productive.

    I work from home full time. I got to do that pretty much under the conditions that Linton mentions: I was moving out of town and I had to work out an arrangement with the company I work for if they wanted to keep me on. I can't imagine trying to sell that to a new employer with no idea of my work ethic.

    The arrangement has worked for both sides over the last few years. I'm paid by the hour and I'm more scrupulous about only charging for work time as a result of being at home. When you're in an office the tendency is to charge from the time you walk in to the time you walk out regardless of what you do in the intervening period. If I'm at home and I don't have enough work it's much easier to take time off and not charge for it, maybe make up the income on another day when things are busier.

    Another advantage of having me set up to work at home is it's very easy for me do work out of business hours when they need it. I'm already set up to dial in remotely and comfortable working that way because that's what I do every day.

    The biggest downside for both sides is definitely lack of face to face contact. I'm close enough to the office that I get down once every couple of weeks for important meetings but I definitely feel some lack of collaboration and plain old social contact with my colleagues.

    I'm an academic working in a full time tenured role at an Australian university. The standard employment agreement for academics at this university makes specific mention of flexible working arrangements in terms of time and location, provided the academic is present for required Program, School and University meetings, teaching commitments, and required student consultation times, and also provided that the academic completes the required tasks as outlined in their Workload Agreement each year.

    However at the moment a number of Schools are trying to enforce much less flexible arrangements on academics, and there are reports of academics being bullied when they are not on campus 9-5:30pm every weekday.

    The whole Workload Agreement system is a farce as it is very inflexible. Everybody you speak to about it except management says it is one of those bureaucratic documents where you say one thing to make people happy and then do another. The system does not properly take into consideration the rather varied nature of academic work, undervalues the time involved in delivering quality teaching in the modern world, etc.

    In my opinion management at the University adopts rather antiquated management philosophies. There is an underlying lack of trust from management towards their academics, and that in turn had led to a lack of trust in management. In this environment working from home, regardless of whether you are demonstrably staying on top of your required workload, is highly frowned upon in many (not all) Schools within the University.

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