In conversation with our clients, we find that the work from home discussion is still a hot topic.
In fact, we noticed there has been a change of phrase from ‘work from home’ to ‘work from anywhere’ (WFA). WFA is more encompassing. It not only covers the home, but it includes the company’s office, or any alternative location acceptable to the business e.g. a location that has better internet connectivity than your home.
There are typically five common themes that come up when considering your WFA options for your business. Any one of them can overlap but the key to successful implementation is to ensure that the business benefits, and the staff are happy.
Here are the five common themes that businesses use to address the WFA dilemma.
1. Business Case
Some clients take a ‘business case’ approach. If the employee is initiating the request to WFA the business requires that the employee present a business case with supporting arguments on how it will work, their hours, how they will communicate effectively, and the reasons and benefits for doing so. If the business accepts the proposal, then a formal Agreement is completed and signed by the business and the employee.
2. Primary Workspace
The business agrees to set up only one ‘primary workspace,’ either at the office or at home, but not both. This can include but is not limited to laptop, monitors, keyboard, mouse, and chair. Whenever a staff member comes to the office, they bring their laptop but will not necessarily have a personally designated space to sit.
Working mostly from home can often work well for introverts who enjoy the solitude, the peace and quiet, and the lack of interruptions. It may not work so well for extroverts who derive their energy from being around people, the impromptu conversations, and the constant activity within the office.
3. Hot Desking
This requires all staff have laptops, so they are free to alternate between home and the office. In these situations, most businesses require staff to specify the days of the week they will be in the office so they can ensure enough spaces are available for hot desking. Often working away from the office is seen as the productive hours of work, where hours spent in the office are all about collaboration, teamwork, and meetings. Taking the hot desk approach has meant some businesses can minimise the size of office they need, and therefore save on overheads.
4. Flexible Hours
We see this being implemented in businesses where staff have long commutes, or commutes hampered by peak hour traffic. The employee could work any combination of hours e.g., start work from home at 6am, when traffic clears the employee completes the remaining hours in the office. Or starting late and finishing late at the office. It could also work around childcare schedules or people who have dependents. Sorry but no, pets are not classified as a dependent.
5. Company Wide Policy
The fifth option is the company wide policy where the business determines which days of the week everyone will be out of the office, and which days everyone will all be in the office. For example, one business we know stipulates that Tuesday and Friday are work from anywhere days.
When implementing a companywide policy, consider carefully which day/s of the week employees will work from home. If you often celebrate end of month drinks, or employees regularly head out on a Friday after work, the downstream impact may be a disconnectedness between the business and the people. Work events, whether formal or informal, allow staff to connect with shared experiences, foster collaboration, and generate ideas.
Regardless of which WFA policy you use it is important that you have a formal Agreement between the business, or manager, and the employee. While some businesses take a relaxed approach to requests to WFA, the Agreement will at least cover the essentials agreed between all parties.