Working from Home: The Great Debate

Mar 11, 2013


By Lyndsey Hall



In an article on the BBC News website, Margaret Ryan discusses the recent decision by Yahoo to prohibit staff from working from home as of June 2013. The announcement has caused uproar amongst Yahoo employees, and has led to comments from several high profile businessmen and women, most of who strongly disagree with the decision. Richard Branson is quoted as calling the ban a “backward step”, and Prof Jennifer Glass, co-author of a report on the US workforce, has said that she is “flabbergasted” by Yahoo’s announcement, and that “the idea that this is going to promote more innovation seems bizarre.”

Does working from home inhibit collaboration?

Google is another big company that prefers staff to be present in the office rather than working from home, claiming that the best and most innovative ideas can come from working lunches and conversations over a computer screen. Google even provide a Wi-Fi enabled bus to transport staff to and from their headquarters to ensure all employees are able to make it into the office.

Presenteeism versus productivity

A study by London Business School, in collaboration with the University of California, has found that home workers often miss out on pay rises and promotions, as managers are more likely to reward those who they can see working. However, this attitude can encourage “passive face time”, whereby an employee’s presence is more important than their productivity and results. Some suggestions from the study for combating this are:

  • Regular phone/email status reports, particularly at the beginning and end of the work day
  • Responding immediately to emails from colleagues/clients
  • Making an effort to be extra visible on days when you are in the office

Focus on your goals and work smarter, not harder 

According to Linda Galipeau, CEO of Randstad: “We are only productive if we’re producing the results that are most impactful to our goals,” Galipeau said. “Being that we live in a multitasking world, it is important to work smarter and hone in on those high-impact efforts that will create more meaningful results. This is incredibly important, especially as women and men can now perform their jobs from almost anywhere.”

Home working removes distractions

According to Alan Denbigh, co-author of The Teleworking Handbook and former executive director of the Telework Association, there are proven benefits of home working: “It gives you the opportunity to get on with a particular project and for those who are bringing up small families where it is imperative to have a degree of flexibility it works.”

Flexibility promotes equality

In an article in Business News Daily, entitled ‘What Women Want… At Work’, it is stated that research shows 50% of female workers name “workplace flexibility” as the key component to their career progression. 33% of those asked said flexibility in their work hours and working arrangements is one of the most important things to them at work. Overall, 49 percent of women said their company is already flexible and accommodating to their working environment.


Which side of the fence do you fall on? Does your business allow for flexibility in your working hours and location? Is it important to you to have the option to work from home on occasion, or do you enjoy the atmosphere of teamwork and motivation that you get by going in to the office everyday? Let us know in the Comments.


Related articles:

Flexible Working For All

Out of Office: Should We Leave Work Behind When We Leave For the Night?

Could Bad Email Etiquette be the Key to Success?



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