Working from home: a blessing and a curse

There are huge numbers of studies available which look at the benefits of allowing your work force to have periods of remote working i.e. workers who are able to operate remotely from a central location:
  • 91% of people who work at home feel more productive then when they’re in the office (1)
  • 50% less resignations when employees are allowed to work from home (2)
  • 30% of people accomplish more in less time when they telecommute (3)
  • 82% of remote workers report lower stress levels (4)
  • 69% less absenteeism when telecommuting is permitted (5)
That’s benefits for the employee and for the employer, and it doesn’t even take into account the cost savings from reduced commuting and the increased benefits of being available at home more regularly to undertake ‘life tasks’ (family, doctors appointments and the like).
Due to this there are some people for whom not offering remote working is a complete deal breaker and they won’t work for your business unless you offer it.  
However, if you’ve ever worked in an office that permits remote working, there are some people that you can likely point toward that you suspect of not exactly accomplishing 30% more work and in fact might be accomplishing 30% less work.
If you hear these stories and those of ‘team members never being available when you need them’, ‘it being impossible to try and arrange a meeting with anyone as they’re always out’ you’d be tempted to question whether the risk was worth it?
Of course, the answer to the conundrum isn’t a straightforward allow remote working or not, because ultimately the success of a remote working policy depends on more than just allowing it.  Research has shown (6)
  • It makes a difference how much people work remotely - full time remote workers might feel isolated and might not be fully integrated into the team, so those who telecommute a moderate amount benefit the most
  • It makes a difference what the organisation culture is like - the more an organisation has positive things like feedback, good working relationships, autonomy etc… (basically the things that makes anyone feel productive) the more positive they are about remote working
  • It makes a difference how dependent you are on others - the more you rely on others then the less positive your attitude to remote working
  • It makes a difference how innovative you need to be - working alongside others helps you share ideas and be more creative, so remote working tends to work against that
So for recruitment there should be alarm bells ringing if someone is insisting on working remotely whilst insisting they will be innovative, collaborative and bring a positive culture.
2 Nicholas Bloom, Stanford University Study
3 ConnectSolutions report
4 PGI study
5 PGI study

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Comment by Beth Hudson on November 24, 2017 at 3:48pm

I love remote work for the reasons you listed above! It definitely isn't for everyone, as is obvious by the cons you state toward the end. However, an employer can still hire remotely if they adjust their recruitment strategy. You have to look for individuals with certain characteristics and look in places where you will find them! There's more on that here:


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