With Yahoo scrapping its work from home policy in the midst of a cost-cutting, creativity-boosting spree, it has set a debate brewing through all industries as to whether working from home is actually beneficial.
Working as part of an office environment is meant to act as a hub of creativity and productivity, with ideas bouncing off the walls, yet there’s plenty of evidence to suggest that this is also true of working from home – allowing workers to use time more efficiently than if commuting for two hours each day, or if they have children to look after.
As a person who is often found working from home and office I can appreciate both sides of this argument. No commute means I’m on time every day; I’m brisk and cheerful in my early hours having not had to endure the horrors of public transport.
Low workload periods in my schedule are spent doing useful tasks around the home, so that when the manic deadline period comes, working the extra hours past 5.30pm means that nothing is really bothered (as opposed to having to sit at an office desk, trawling through the internet and making excess cups of coffee to fill the time).
Yet connectivity to colleagues is often by phone or email, and usually far from instant.
Without face-to-face conversation around a piece of paper and pens, purposes become muddied, conversations segway and original purposes are occasionally dismissed.
In the world of design, communication is key; meetings with clients are critical, with facial expressions often overriding the words coming out of a person’s mouth; working from the same hymn sheet (or influence board) should be gospel for a team, and making adjustments over a colleague’s shoulder can make a workflow faster than waiting on a slow network to share a model.
Technology, with the increase in availability and quality of remote working solutions and face-to-face communication tools, is allowing the two to become more equal, but a call can always be ignored, an email missed, and without supervision a trickle of ease in the workplace could become a wave of un-productivity.
If you were in charge, how would you prefer to work?