The Workplace – July 2018
The idea of working from home was a figment of my imagination for far too long – and it shouldn’t have been. Today I hear companies talk about how they have embraced the approach, although I’m not convinced they have.
Can we really be disruptive and embrace this in its entirety? Is working from home really embedded in the fabric of our company culture or the working experience of our people? When we think it is, it often isn’t. Do we actually need to be in the office at all? A line of thinking that I am coming closer and closer to believing in.
My days at home have made a significant impact on how I feel about my wellbeing. Sounds a little dramatic maybe, but throwing on shorts and t-shirt, taking the kids to school, having a croissant in the local bakery before I even think about work is a wonderful foundation for a great day ahead. The removal of the commute is significant. You can even drop in a 5k run around the local park to get the endorphins flowing before you nestle down in front of your screen. I know my colleagues feel the same.
While I personally enjoy my cycle to work, people living in London on average spend 81 mins a day on their journey to and from work – the equivalent of 38 working days a year. And a recent survey from CIPD appears to support my aim of making working from home the norm: 36% of us would prefer the option of working from home than a pay rise.
I’m not sure at Goodman Masson we have our approach quite right, which is why we have engaged with Karen Mattison MBE and the founder of Timewise. I want to understand how our sector can truly embrace working from home (and flexible working) and remove the old-school thinking that presenteeism in the office is essential for togetherness as a team. I would love our industry to influence the wider business community.
Look at the business metrics of our people that work from home. The number of candidates that we speak to and CVs sent to clients is some 40% higher than on a normal day. In some workplaces, according to the ‘Work without Walls’ survey by Microsoft, productivity is 71% higher.
Surely it affects our health and wellbeing, too. You can introduce down time to your working day: complete a 30-minute workout in front of your TV, go on a run or enjoy a midday coffee with your neighbour, comfortable in the knowledge that when you are working, your intensity far outweighs what you would do on a normal day.
I think maybe it is time that working from home becomes the norm.
As Ron Friedman, author of The best place to work, points out, with twice the number of upsides to downsides, I can’t see what we have to lose. Unless, of course, the test match is on and then I definitely go into the office!
Guy Hayward is CEO, Goodman Masson