Does homeworking affect teamwork and socialisation?
We’ve been thrust into a situation where homeworking has become the norm for many. But is it the best option for everyone? Not necessarily. There are lots of reasons why homeworking is good; studies show that some people are more productive when working from home, for example. But equally, not everyone has enough space to work well from home; not everyone has a good-enough broadband connection; not everyone wants to stay at home all the time.
So how are businesses going to approach the issue of homeworking now? Here are some of the pros and cons that we’ve discovered through working with our clients during this period:
- Productivity – for many, homeworking has resulted in greater productivity. The lack of a morning and evening commute means that people can get straight to their desks, and often take less time for lunch and are less distracted during the day.
- Caring responsibilities – homeworking can be useful for those with caring responsibilities – either for children, parents or other relatives. Being in the home means they can manage any visits or appointments needed and can adjust their working hours if possible, to accommodate school runs. Studies have shown that people who work at home for this reason are often very productive because they are aware of the flexibility they enjoy from their employer. However, this is a balance: managers and business owners will want to make sure that the employer is able to perform all their tasks from home and won’t be disturbed or distracted by their other responsibilities.
- Teamwork – teams often work best when they are in the same place, so homeworking could have a negative effect on the way that teams work together. Keeping a remote team working closely together requires more planning, more effort and more measurement, so businesses offering this opportunity will need to make sure they are providing the support needed to keep teams together.
- New hires – working in the office is a positive part of the induction process for new hires. It gives them a chance to integrate into the business, to get to know the people they are working with and to have a sense of purpose from day one. Starting a new job remotely – as many people have discovered during the pandemic – is a strange and difficult way to begin a new job and, like managing teams, requires more effort from line managers to ensure that new hires are able to work well.
- Managing absence – it’s easier for work to be picked up by others when everyone is in the office. Handing over tasks or projects ahead of holidays, during a period of long-term absence or even just for a week’s sickness is much easier when everyone is in the same place. Managing work handovers remotely is more time-consuming and requires advance organisation.
In the end, of course, this is going to be a choice for each business, based on the type of business and the job role. But it’s more than likely that many employees will be asking either for full-time homeworking or a split between office and home and businesses need to have a plan in place to deal with this new way of doing things.