We all know how stressful work can be, with travel the most challenging part of the working day for many. The struggles and frustrations of rush hour traffic, the hectic bustle of public transport, the desperate rush to leave on time, or the cost of peak-time travel – they can all take their toll on our state of mind and ability to function well at work.
Simon Cliffe is the organiser of Work From Home Week, which runs this week 20th to 24th January 2014: “The whole subject of working from home hit the headlines recently when the new Yahoo boss banned all her employees from doing it – and that caused outcry on the blogosphere proving the subject is something people care passionately about. Working from home can be an attractive alternative that can get around many of the stresses and strains of office life. Home working can offer the flexibility that doesn’t usually exist in full-time employment, enabling you to fit work in around other commitments and allowing you to create a working environment that suits you and your working style. With careful planning and the right support, you can make a successful switch to working from home, and create a better environment that suits you and your working style.”
Work from Home Week is here to offer advice for those seeking an escape from office life, and to provide solutions to help making the switch to working from home easier. Working from home can have its difficulties, such as the self-discipline needed to separate work from home, or adjusting to an environment that lacks the social interaction of an office. There are also legal implications and rights that outline how and when employees can justify a request to work from home. We hope to use our time wisely to provide as many solutions as possible.
Charles Elvin, Chief Executive of the Institute of Leadership & Management, encourages businesses to explore flexible working: “Work from Home Week is an excellent opportunity for employers to encourage more working from home or other forms of flexible working. But to really reap the benefits of a flexible workforce, organisations need to invest in the systems and skills that enable remote workers to flourish.
“A survey of over 1,000 managers published by ILM last year, found that flexible working is widespread, with 94% of UK employees offering it in some form.
“Flexible working can offer real business benefits, as well as increased staff engagement. Over four out of five (82%) managers reported improvements in productivity, commitment and retention of staff, and 62% of managers said it helped their organisation respond better to customer needs. We also know from a more recent survey that workers are keen to improve their work-life balance this year (with 31% stating this was their top career New Year’s resolution). Allowing employees the option of working from home can be a powerful motivator and a great way to get the best out of people.
“Our report uncovered that the main barriers to flexible working are cultural, in particular the negative attitudes of a significant minority – for example, one in five worried that taking the decision to work flexibly could be ‘career limiting’ and a third (31%) reported hearing other colleagues saying something negative about others working flexibly.
“With flexible working becoming even more widespread in the future, organisations need to ensure their managers are ready, by embedding the appropriate skills for flexible working to flourish. This means that managers should be properly trained to know how to manage people working flexibly. We would also encourage managers to be open and honest about their flexible working policies which can alleviate worries and uncertainty and help to address the negative attitudes within their organisation.
“The managers we spoke to were clear about the skills needed to manage a flexible workforce – strong communication and planning skills, the ability to give clear direction and performance management and target setting – so companies that want to investigate flexible working options should ensure that these skills are in place in their workforce before they do so.”