Right now every single one of your employees is saying they would prefer to work from home! You’re doing everything you can to add work-at-home options to as many roles as possible, because this is the single hottest trend in workplaces, and it’s the only way you can attract talent to your organization.
By the way, it’s a big lie!
Actually, you have a very small percentage of employees who are saying they want to work from home, but they’re very loud and vocal, so it sounds like everyone. You also have a very small number of roles within your company that can be effective as a work-at-home role, based on a number of issues specific to your organization and your roles.
When you do the math of a small number of people who actually want to work at home and the small number of roles you have that could do this, you don’t have a real problem. You have a made up problem.
How do I know this?
Because most work-at-home people are actually choosing to ‘rent’ shared outside-the-home workspace. Organizations like WeWork and Factory are exploding in the co-working space. These are shared workspaces for the startup generation types, who are mostly working as individual contributors but want to be around other people who are also working.
In every mid-sized to large-sized city, you can find coworking organizations who are offering space. Why? Because this is what people want. They actually get motivated to be around other people who are working.
Working at home in your underwear sounds great until you get beyond the vacation phase. At first, working from home seems like this great idea. All the freedom to work when you want, with little distraction, and ultimate flexibility. What most people find is this ultimate ‘freedom’ is something they are not very good at.
Working at home is one GIANT distraction. Oh, I should throw that load of laundry in. Hey, who’s driving down my street? Why does my neighbor wear Crocs outside to get the paper? I should make a good lunch today, then go for a run. Is that laundry done? Okay, Rocky, I’ll let you outside again, but I can’t play right now, I need to work!
Everyone believes they can work from home. 100% of people. About 2% of people are actually effective at working from home. What you find is 98% of people have almost zero self-insight into themselves. Being in a structured work environment actually, helps them be more productive, get things done, and meet the needs of the role you’re paying them to do.
Work-at-home and being flexible are two very different things. Being flexible means allowing an employee to add in some personal stuff that needs to get done during the day, knowing they’ll meet their work obligations without issue. Don’t confuse these two things. Being ‘flexible’ with your employees doesn’t mean you need to go full work-at-home mode.
What you’ll find is the employees will love it, you’re managers will hate it, and less work actually gets done.
Now, wait for the comments, because the work-at-home set lose their minds on posts like this! Why? Because they’re working from home and have time to read blogs about how they shouldn’t be working at home!
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I work from home once in a while, usually because I have a project that requires focus. My job is full of distractions that detour my day, but I do find that I can get more done at home on those one-off projects that are time-sensitive and require blocks of uninterrupted time. But then again, I don’t have kids at home anymore, and my dogs sleep all day. 🙂 That said, working at home on a regular basis would not work for me. I definitely have to resist the siren call of the washing machine, the dishes in the sink, etc. when I work from home!
Fortunately so many professionals now have option of working virtually , remotely from home etc and 100% their choice. Really gifted people work less hours where they want on what they want earning how much they want. Period.
So… first… I’m not reading this during my work day so you can’t get me on the last line there 😉
Having worked from home now for 4 years and worked pretty much 8-5 in offices for 12 years before that…. I can say you are right in that fact that you have to be structured… but to me it is actually opposite of what you stated… I work daily to ‘keep the balance’… I can find myself in sprints where I can’t turn work off… so the structure is actually needed in the opposite of what you said… IMO and in my situation. For me I have to structure to turn work off. Sure my hours are flexible but they would have to be even if I went into the office. I have a team that is worldwide and for me to make time for everyone during their workday I sometimes have 5 Am and 9 PM meetings.
Also I would not say I work from home because it is easier…. it is not! It is the best way to balance life… I might have 5 AM meetings but I can pick my kids up from school every day… to me that is not a ‘distraction’… it is a balance… if I was working less than 40 hrs a week it would be a distraction and I would get less work done. This set up allows me to be my best ‘self’ (this includes, wife, mother, daughter, friend, and employee) 🙂 🙂
Just my two cents and how it works for me… I would love to do a deeper study on this and see if I’m alone or truly 2%…. I do love reading your articles because they make me think but I also think you respect the challenge 😉
PS – see you soon… I think you are running a panel I am on soon… don’t bring this up! 🙂
I think when people say “work from home” they more often mean flexible hours or the choice to work from home occasionally.
People who work in co-working spaces can decide if they wanna start work at 6am in their underwear at home, then workout, shower, and roll into the “office” at noon to finish the rest of the day. Or maybe they want to break up the day into different chunks so that they can take kids to and from school and daycare, make doctor’s appointments, etc.
Whether it’s an office floor full of cubicles or a modern, open-concept office space, I think the attraction of working from home is partly just the ability to change the scenery when needed. It’s true that the home is full of distractions, but so can the office.
I definitely think most people are more productive when they have a defined time and place to work, but doing something different once a week or even just once in a while can also help with focus and productivity. Having the option to work elsewhere or switch up a schedule is probably what most people are after. Long commutes are probably also motivating factors, even if the home office isn’t what they really want.
I guess I’m the 2% then. Working from home is not for everyone but that’s the Sodexo TA culture. I get more done in a day than when I worked in an office for 13 yrs (and can unload my dishwasher) but it takes extreme diligence. Not only to stay focused but to know when to shut it off for the night.
I get what you are saying Tim and since I work with social media it’s perfectly acceptable that I’m I’m reading this! 🙂