Few workplace changes have been as seismic as the current trend for working from home. Despite criticism from middle-managers who have suddenly found themselves invisible and even surplus to requirements, the statistics suggest that the home office is where employees are at their most productive and comfortable. Who would’ve thought that all those hours spent commuting were a waste?
According to data compiled by job-matching service Airtasker, remote workers are more productive, sitting idle for ten minutes less than their colleagues, less distracted by micromanagement, and work harder for longer durations, to a total of 1.4 extra days per month. It’s perhaps not what everybody wants to hear, both from the perspective of employer and employee, but hybrid working is unlikely to be just a fad.
Time and Property
Technology loves to interfere, though. Just a few moments on Google reveals that software and hardware are being tested and implemented to ensure that workers are indeed working and not playing Fortnite on the company dollar. Of course, this can quickly become a thorny issue, as it inevitably involves questions of privacy and just how much a company can interfere with people’s time and property.
Tools such as Workexaminer and InterGuard already exist to hold at-home workers responsible, but with words like ‘monitoring’, ‘recording’, and ‘reporting’ intertwined with their business model, it’s hard not to view them as thoroughly dystopic, as something that might make George Orwell choke on his cereal. It’s worth noting that employees are rarely monitored in such an extreme fashion when on-site.
A balance between privacy and accountability has to be struck, but, sadly, there’s often very little overlap between company needs and employee wants. Magazine site Vox suggests that the ideal approach to remote working should give control to workers and that excessive interference by management is largely due to a lack of trust in the workforce, and vice-versa. The fear of being “found out” apparently goes both ways.
While sudden, the concept of working from home is on cue with a larger movement to make even the remotest services local. The obvious examples are banking and shopping but entertainment has been experimenting with similar changes in recent years. Cinemas and theatres seem to be immune to this trend but casinos have discovered that using webcams to stream content is a worthwhile endeavor.
So-called live dealer games offer an experience similar to that provided by gaming platform Twitch, albeit with more things to interact with. For example, live roulette games online include a real croupier who is responsible for placing bets and spinning the wheel. This removes a lot of the computerized aspects of roulette and helps create more of an immersive atmosphere for players.
Overall, as there will probably always be a conflict between businesses and workers in terms of the best approach to things like work-life balance, it’s not easy to see how the debate over working from home will evolve in the future. However, with lower overheads involved and evidence that remote work directly benefits most companies, reluctant businesses barely have a negative leg to stand on.