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An article published by the Financial Times last month suggested that those who work from home miss out on the important feeling that their lives and work have purpose. Unsurprisingly, the piece has caused a stir amongst the self-employed and business owners alike, but I wonder if there is a tiny section of those who do this on a regular basis who recognise some of the feelings she highlights?

Lucy Kellaway, the journalist who penned this recent article, suggested that there were five important reasons to favour the more traditional office environment: our need to be convinced that we have purpose, to feel human, to learn, to have a workspace that is distinct from the home. And, she also added that we need to be able to facilitate the flow of gossip. Of course, the last point is presumably tongue-in-cheek, though the article and its message have once again put the subject back on the agenda.

Yahoo boss Marissa Mayer also came into the spotlight a few years ago when she stated that homeworking would be off the agenda in order to encourage collaboration and innovation. And while plenty of virtual teams work from all over the place, it is recognised that even technology cannot build the same kind of connections you get from seeing people in person. On a regular basis.

However Flexible Working Has It’s Benefits

Large businesses including Amazon, IBM, Dell, and American Express are known for offering telecommuting opportunities, and it’s an option that’s often favoured by employees looking for an effective solution for balancing work responsibilities with life outside of the office.

There are many positive takeaways from offering your employees more flexible working conditions: being able to attract top talent, retaining the right people, and offering a total reward package that motivates and drives the business forward, particularly important if you have less cash to spend than some of the larger players.

5 Ways To Get The Most Out Of Flexible Working

Teamwork is vital in just about every single business out there, so you’ll certainly have your work cut out for you if you want to make working from home a viable option for your employees. That doesn’t mean that it can’t be done. It just means that you’re going to have to be creative, and have a clear but flexible approach that’s regularly reviewed.

Find my top tips on how to do this below:

  1. Use clear guidelines and objectives: If not a company-wide policy, make sure all managers are well versed in what rules are okay and what are not.
  2. Take the first step and trial it: Do it for a set period of time, get feedback, evaluate and make changes as required.
  3. Support your people: Make sure managers know what they can and can’t allow/ promote and make sure all are comfortable in having conversations about this with their teams.
  4. Trust is key: We build trust by delivering on what we say we will do and by sharing. So share your expectations clearly, including about how often you will be in contact and what results you expect to see. Engaged employees will instinctively use their time efficiently so let them get on with the job. But communicate properly with them and use technology effectively to keep in touch and encourage team spirit rather than just to scare about monitoring ability.
  5. Measure productivity: Silence the critics by measuring output – don’t just focus on feedback about staff well-being.

Offices are usually dead between Christmas and New Year. For those who have used up all their holiday earlier in the year, it’s often a really useful time to get stuff done. Consider maxmising this opportunity by letting them work from home if they want to and give them the added benefit of spending their usual commute time with family and friends. It might be just the tonic they need to start the New Year with a spring in their step.
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Photo Source: Home Office/Breakfast Nook by Bill