Like much of the UK, we’ve been hit by heavy snowfalls here in the Midlands.
This has meant that many of us have not made it into jobs.ac.uk Towers today. Although some brave stalwarts – Rosie and Janet for example – have. We salute their dedication and true grit. Softies like me, however, are ‘working from home’ today whilst trying to entertain a child who has no school to go to.
Although I must say, that I was on my PC, checking and answering emails from 7am this morning. Because I knew I wouldn’t be driving in today, I was able to use the time I usually use to get ready for the commute, to actually start work some 90 minutes earlier than normal!
Virtual working really is possible
As with many people these days, I and many of the team, already work from home on odds days here and there. Nothing new in that.
What strikes me today is how quickly and (relatively) easily, we as a team of people, have been able to pick up the pieces and start working together at great distance from each other.
Many of my colleagues are also working from home today but with email, SMS and plain old fashioned telephone calls, we’re able to continue working on joint projects and individual workloads.Several of our advert input team ( Client Services Team as they’re called) can also pick up work and upload job content onto the site remotely.
But when you think about it, this is actually very similar to what it’s like when we are all physically in one place i.e. the office.
You’ll have the same experience, no doubt, that you spend most of your time at work on your PC typing away. When you do need to speak with someone, you’ll often pick up the phone rather than have a meeting. Indeed, in our office, we also use an internal office wiki (which is a great communication tool by the way) plus an in-house instant messaging service (Spark).
So, when we’re all physically distant, very little in terms of ‘work’ feels different.
Why don’t we do this more often?
It makes you wonder, therefore, why don’t we all work this way much more often? Why don’t we all work from home – those that can of course – 3 out of 5 days a week? Or at least 1 day a week…
Surely this would have a massive and positive impact?
For example, it would reduce traffic on the roads (thereby also reducing accidents) and save tonnes of carbon dumped into atmosphere. Organisations could also operate out of smaller offices and buildings thereby saving carbon and operating costs.
You would also see, I suspect, an improvement in personal productivity. If you’ve ever worked in any office, especially open plan ones, you’ll know how many times and in how many ways your working day can be interrupted.
You’d also find that families would spend more time together. Just imagine how much time we’d all save in our lives if we spent less time in a car or on a train and more at home with our loved ones?
Offices have their uses
Now, I’m not suggesting we should all work from home all of the time.
Organisations of all sizes are built upon human communication and interaction. And face-to-face interaction is usually by far the most efficient and effective. But I do suggest that we could and should work from home more frequently than we do.
Maybe we don’t because organisations are often hierarchical and ‘think’ that they need their staff to be in and ‘under observation’ otherwise they won’t be doing anything? Many managers, I think, fear that ‘working from home’ means ‘doing nothing at home’.
That’s a shame if they do.
In my experience, if people are engaged in their jobs and are given the tools to get on with them then they will work very conscientiously – whether at home or in the office.
OK, so when they do work at home, they may wish to work in a more flexible way. They may pick up and put down their work when it suits them. They may start work at 8am and finish at 3.30pm, perhaps. Or they may start at 12pm and finish at 9.30pm.
Who knows and who cares. As long as the work is done and done to agreed standards?
Of course, an alternative would be to make the workplace much more like home (or a more ‘human’ environment). Just like Google do…
Now, I’m going to stop ‘working from home’ for a short while. I’ve got a snowman to build…