Dear Aunty B,
I’ve read plenty of articles and blogs advocating for flexibility in the workplace and as a result, I created a policy whereby my staff all work from home at least a couple of times a week. I was sure it was going to lead to improved productivity and happier workers but I think the opposite is happening. Working from home seems like a chore to some of my workers and I’m seeing some of their work output slip. What am I doing wrong?
We humans are a fickle lot, aren’t we? Here you are trying to give your workers exactly what all the management experts say you should, but it sounds like they would prefer not to have that extra half-hour sleep-in or the option of working in their track pants.
Rebecca Neal tackled this topic recently over at the Wattsnext blog and I think she hits the nail on the head. The reason why people don’t always want to work from home is, according to Neal, we crave the support and attention of those around us.
It all comes down to that human connection, says Neal.
“We thrive on the comradery that comes with working side by side our teammates,” she says.
“When you are in an office space, we have the opportunity to build trusting relationships with the people we work with. We experience the emotion and learn from others. We can feed on each other’s energy and different perspectives.”
My advice to you is to relax your rules around flexible working. Tell your employees they are more than welcome to work from home whenever they like but make sure they know it is not a requirement. Over time, the people who enjoy working from home will take you up on your offer, while the more social butterflies in the group will be happy to continue coming into the office each day. And you might just achieve that happy office environment you’re after.