Earlier this week, the Employee Benefits team met up in London for our monthly catch up. During the course of the day, one of the topics of discussion was the frequently negative view of working from home that continues to prevail among some leaders and media outlets. As a team that has moved from being primarily office-based to permanent homeworkers over the past couple of years, it is not surprising that most of us have strong views to the contrary.
One notion that particularly rankled was the suggestion that home workers are less productive than office-based colleagues. Over the past couple of years, when homeworking became a reality for many, in the majority of cases productivity was maintained, if not increased. Among all the people I have spoken to about this, the majority say that they typically work longer hours and/or find themselves getting more done in a shorter space of time than they did in an office environment.
Certainly, no one has concurred with Boris Johnson’s view: “My experience of working from home is you spend an awful lot of time making another cup of coffee and then, you know, getting up, walking very slowly to the fridge, hacking off a small piece of cheese, then walking very slowly back to your laptop and then forgetting what it was you’re doing.”
If anything, this says more about Johnson’s ability to knuckle down and focus on the task in hand, than about homeworkers as a whole.
It seems that many HR, reward and benefits professionals seem to agree, based on the conversations I’ve had, social media posts I’ve seen and articles I’ve read over the past few months. And for very good reason; research by IWG, published this week, found nine in 10 of the 2,000 respondents said hybrid working is now as important to them as financial benefits when assessing a new role. In addition, half would immediately dismiss a role that didn’t offer hybrid working.
In this post-pandemic world, hybrid and home working cannot simply be ignored. While there will always be those that have their doubts about its effectiveness, if there is anything the past few years have shown, it’s that it also has a place in many organisations’ people strategies.