Is working from home really an effective way to get things done?
If you’re a businessperson, or interested in business affairs, you’ll have probably heard of telecommuting. This new method of working from home is slowly sneaking into the office, and taking people home with it. You may have looked around your office recently and seen a few empty places throughout the week, but what are they really doing at home?
Of course, a natural assumption is that people who work from home could be less productive. Now, there are two edges to this sword as contrary to this assumption, research has shown that you’re at your most productive in a comfortable environment. Spending week in week out in an office setting can perhaps be detrimental to workforce morale, but do you really need to avoid the place altogether? My answer would be no.
OK, feeling like you’re stuck in a bleak and boring office environment can bring your mood down and perhaps result in the production of sub-standard work, but there are arguably far more factors pointing to disengagement at home: perhaps you’re too comfortable ‘working’ from your laptop in your pyjamas, or maybe your cat won’t give up on the battle for your undivided attention and spends much of the day perched on your keyboard. Regardless, the domestic environment can be a lag on your productivity.
Paul Wedgewood, CEO and founder of Splash Damage, operates a no-telecommuting office. “[Splash Damage] have one telecommuter, who is based in Austria. It’d be a bit hard for him to commute daily”, Paul jokes. All (but one) of 120 Splash Damage staff work from their HQ, and Paul finds it much easier to operate a business with everyone on hand to give their best day’s work as equals.
Putting all this aside for a second, there are a few great perks of the virtual office that should be mentioned. So how can you maximise the virtual office to benefit your business?
A comfy workforce is a happy workforce…
One of the big problems that people find with an office-based job is discomfort. Travelling to and from work can feel like it’s consuming half your life, and when in the office, the environment can be detrimental to efficiency. Allowing your employees to take some time to bring the working environment home with them can enable them to dissociate work with negativity, helping to boost the office work ethic.
You can create your own office
While yes, the distractions of home life can take away from the productivity of the working day, when done properly the virtual office creates great flexibility for a business owner or employee. Working from home gives you the opportunity to create your perfect working environment, free from domestic distractions. However, as a business owner I would say it is more important to have a presence in your office than suffer the distance from your employees; cohesion between staff and management is important.
Technology makes it all so easy
For those worrying that work is shied away from by employees at home, having an office Virtual Private Network (VPN) means you can track your employees’ online activity throughout the day. Monitoring and regulating the work carried out from the home allows for comparison with work done in the office; you can decide for yourself if the virtual office is beneficial to your business. Remote technologies which can be used communally, such as remote printers, allow for all work to be compiled from the same source. Our beloved internet has allowed for a virtual office with many telecommuters staying in contact with their office via Skype and email – it really is easy to stay in touch.
Saving the pennies
As could be imagined, operating a virtual office saves money on renting corporate space which can be a drain on finances. The travel expenses of your employees can also be reduced, along with commuter time, which makes for a more financially secure and less fatigued workforce, which can only help business. For start-ups and small businesses, this perk may make the virtual office seem particularly appealing, although I would not recommend it as part of a long-term business plan.