Because of the stresses brought about by Covid 19, it was easy for any of us to jump to conclusions on one matter or another. Initially, we did not have the benefit of hindsight on which to measure our thoughts and feelings.
One example of this is how the subject of home working is playing out in this really difficult phase in all our lives. Now, as the months roll by, some experience is beginning to slowly build-up. Some employees now ask, “given a choice, do I want to continue with home working or to what extent”? “Maybe for a proportion of each week”? Then others consider full time home working to be suitable for them
So, leaving aside what is happening now, I would like to return to a period outside of the current timeframe. This is to look at an environment when home working was by choice and negotiation, rather than it being largely enforced by a crisis.
To explain, a number of years back, FlexTime, carried out research with a University based in New York, looking at the effects of separating work from home life.
What became clear that while many would prefer to work from home, others actively wanted to keep their working and home lives apart. Indeed, the more they held this view, the more they viewed flexibility of working hours, as the better employee benefit, than home working.
The research, therefore, shows that arrangements cannot be implemented overnight to yield a “quick fix” solution. Individual preferences for the style of work arrangement, is a crucial consideration. Assessments of such, must be adopted before enforcing any form of flexible working intervention.
Working from home has been essential for many during this survival pandemic period. Additionally, there are separate pressures such as house costs causing employees to need to work remotely. Nonetheless, it would be a mistake to assume that everyone wants to work from home.
We are hearing media reports of organisations proposing to relinquish their offices. Huge property costs are being weighed up. However, I would suggest that a policy of “enforced home-working” beyond this crisis period, needs also to be considered against the human and thus, organisational, cost of that policy.
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