Implementing The Home/Office Split To Improve Engagement

Working from home and the office

The work environments are pretty much like boxing. Two corners and one battle been fought and in the eyes of the opposition only one winner! Who is most productive? Home workers or office workers? Home workers are continuously trying to prove how productive they are to friends, family and colleagues (I’ve had this issue myself) whereas office workers are still measured on how long they spend in the office irrespective of their productivity levels.

It’s been three months since I headed back to the office after 18 successful months working remote. I LOVED working remotely from home. The lack of commute, the negation of awkward conversations and of course the productive hours due to limited distractions. It worked for me like it continues to work for many across the globe.

I have however found a new love and this is the work from home/ office work split. You’ve heard me right; I am enjoying being back in the office.

Now this ultimately got me thinking as to whether this is the right solution/answer for a number of businesses worldwide to increase productivity with employees and help their businesses grow. Essentially is this the strategy they should adopt to engage their workforce? I happen to think so.

There’s pro’s and con’s to full time home working as there is to full time office working. Distractions in the shape of the office and the lack of human interaction and collaboration when working from home. Is a hybrid approach the answer? It could well be a solution and a way to engage staff members further.

What such a process brings & examples:

Work requiring deep concentration:

There’s times when you are working on a specific project and you need silence. Especially within writing roles theres a requirement to research and write. Surrounded by the office noise can be counter productive if your outputs. When you’re working someone may be on a lunch break. When you’re trying to write an important proposal somebody may be dealing with a customer service call.

Days when you need to write something important and have full concentration then you should be at home in a quiet environment. Not only does this aid the individual in question but also the business. Productivity surely must take a knock due to outside interference? It just makes complete sense to me.

Point 1: Allow staff home working if they are writing important documents/require full concentration.

Face to Face meetings:

Despite Twitter, Facebook, Gchat, Google Hangout, Skype there’s still a requirement for face to face meetings. Let’s be real the nitty gritty stuff is mostly discussed when you’re in a room with one another and these can be exceptionally important times for the business.

Times like these require an individual to be present in the office or at least a high % of the team. This point is even more valid if the business traditionally was office based. It’s much easier for a tech startup to do this remote as their whole business model is built upon this however more traditional organisations will suffer without face to face.

Point 2: Office based days should consist of strategy meetings so everybody can be present.

Trust & removal of micromanagement:

If there was one thing which annoys millennials the most then it’s micromanagement. Senior members of staff who believe they need to micromanage to gain results. News flash guys, this does the opposite!

By allowing staff to work from home a % of the week you remove the micromanagement reigns and give that individual a level of trust. This will engage and inspire a worker like nothing else. To feel valued and trusted will improve productivity as they are then working for someone who they respect. Micromanagement has an adverse effect as they feel suffocated and pressured by the constant interaction.

Point 3: Building trust results in productivity. Micromanagement turns employees away.

Staff Morale:

The average commute time daily in the UK is around 41 minutes and around 25 minutes in the US. This equates to near an hour of commuting daily for these two nations. You also have to remember this is the ‘average’ commute time and for every individual who walks to work there’s another guy who see’s the back of car headlights in his dreams every night.

Having a home working/office split can reduce commuting times and improve staff morale. There’s so many studies on the downsides of commuting to productivity and general work happiness that it’s an easy one for businesses to look at.

In my current place of work I have two work from home days in the middle of the week which breaks up my 2 hour total commute time. It also allows me to exercise before work due to having an extra hour in the morning. Not only this but upon completing work I am able to immediately tackle house chores or relax without the thought of a daunting commute home. This ultimately does wonders for my overall morale
Point 4: Reducing the commute and helping your workforce manage their life improves staff morale.

Widen the recruitment net:

Talent acquisition and retaining/attracting the right calibre of talent is something all businesses strive for. Everybody wants the cream of the crop. Unfortunately geographical location of offices and the ability to get to offices can be a stumbling block. This is why the rental yields for offices spaces within cities are so high. Public transport is typically available for all city centre locations via either buses or train. Those outside the city centre may struggle to recruit staff.

By offering a flexible home/office solution you are far more than likely to attract talent from a far. People (GenY especially) make decisions based on their commute time. In the era of more work/life flexibility the littlest commute possible is the preference. Those who live further afield however may be attracted to such an opportunity if there is flexibility in the schedule.

Point 5: Offer flexibility with the work/home schedule to strengthen your recruitment drive and cast your net further afield.

Improve staff relationships:

The average individual spends 40 hours a week in the presence of colleagues. That doesn’t take into account staff socials or any outside of work interaction. That is an exceptionally long time. Work is a strange beast in this regard. You are plucked from one office and immediately stuck in another with a bunch of people who are now your ‘work friends’.

This is not how real life relationships work. Whether on a love basis or a friendship basis so instantly there will be problematic situations.

You constantly hear couples saying they ‘need their own time’ or it’s ‘healthy to spend time apart’ so it begs the question whether this applies to the office environment given the time we spend together?

Not everyone will get on within an office. One persons idea of fun is someone elses worst nightmare. The same can be said for other things like hobbies, dietary requirements and music tastes.

By implementing a home/office split you take employees out of the office environment but still allow them to deliver business benefits. They can still work however they are in isolation of their own home. For some this ‘may’ not work so the process should be optional but for other personalities having the option may be something they would like.

Spending time away from the office within a working week can improve relationships as you look forward to seeing colleagues after time at home. 40 hours a week is a significant amount of time to spend with someone and sometimes you just need a break.

Point 6: Staff relationships can become strained when working with one another on a day by day basis. Working from home time allows a break and relationships are therefore stronger on a whole due to time apart.

I was a huge advocate of working from home and to an extent I still am. For companies who are built from the beginning as a remote team then I fully support it however for more traditionally built companies then the implementation of an office work/home work split would be the ideal. There’s so many benefits to utilising a split routine both as a benefits to employees and the employers.

Companies need to step outside the comfort zone and reap the rewards.

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About the author

Ryan Gibson

Hey! I'm a 28 year old digital marketing guy residing in Leeds, England. My skill is in search marketing and I have gathered over 6 years experience of working on large multilingual campaigns for a number of FTSE 250 Organisations. After accepting a role with a business based in Singapore I began questioning traditional business practice and employee retention. This blog was therefore born with focus on Y in the workplace. A millennial child at heart I aim to provide a voice for the 'misunderstood' generation and my goal is simply to change perception and corporate mind set on work/life attitudes; inspiring companies and individuals to seek change.

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