By Phil Jones, Managing Director, Brother UK
It’s Work from Home Week, a week dedicated to getting employers and their people thinking about different methods of working.
Giving people the option to work from home, when appropriate, can have a positive impact on both the individual and the business. It’s a decision which must be taken to fit your business need as not every role lends itself directly to the practice, each business must carefully consider its merits and de-merits, role by role.
People can make gains in a better work/life balance, having the space to work on projects without the distraction of a busy office, and by avoiding a busy commute - all of which can increase productivity.
For the business, not only is the increase in productivity a benefit, but according to the Agile Future Forum - the industry association founded to promote flexible working practices in the UK - home working can cut costs by up to 13 per cent.
Of course, there are operational issues to consider. People need to remain connected with the rest of the business to avoid any breakdown in communication with teams and clients, but also to ensure that there are still opportunities for collaboration and joint thinking. In essence, you have to provide them with the same capability to work effectively remotely, as you do when they were sat in the office.
This is where technology steps in.
Portable tech, like scanners and printers, can be used at home, in the office and is easily transported between the two.
Look out for tech that is compatible with mobile apps such as iPrint & Scan, which means that users can print directly from their smartphones and tablets in the event a home working space is a dining room or kitchen table.
Web conferencing is also a great tool for keeping connected. People can join meetings, and bring to life ideas and reports without relying on email or telephone conference calls, it’s a smart way of retaining visual communication whilst not being physically ‘in the room’.
In our own business, as well as providing portable tech and web conferencing for our remote workers, we’ve also introduced an internal social network to help maintain a sense of community. It means informal conversation can still take place regardless of whether you are in or out of the office and a sense of connection is still sustained to the workplace culture.
One thing is for sure, more and more people will want to increase the amount of flexibility they have from their workplace. Where possible, relaxing rules around office presenteeism may increase your levels of performance, happiness, recruitment capability and long term retention, so it’s something that should be on the agenda for all businesses 52 weeks of the year.