Working from home – is it always the best option?

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Working from home can facilitate enormous benefits; allowing more time with family, avoiding long commutes and offering better work-life balance, but is this always the best option? Social researcher Claire Madden gives her thoughts on The Today Show, discussing the benefits and sharing the downside of this growing trend.

While teleworking might have some benefits of flexibility for the individual, it can unintentionally create an isolated wasteland back in the office. It can significantly impact team culture by removing the intangible ingredient of collaboration and spontaneous interactions where some of the greatest innovations are sparked, problems are solved and teams are energised.

With 1 in 12 people working from home, this growing trend is enabled by communication technologies facilitating far greater flexibility, connectivity and mobility. Our research found the top three reasons people work at home are:

  1. Flexibility – to juggle other things, including managing the kids
  2. Improved work-life balance – avoiding that 53 minute commute, which Australians do on average every day for work
  3. Working undistracted – our workplaces can be busy hubs of activity and home can provide a quieter place to think and work – however can be faced with household distractions – like that sudden motivation that overtakes you to put a load of washing on!
Whilst working from home can facilitate these areas of life, it is not necessarily the most productive way to work.  It can be a far more effective use of time to have a quick team meeting to get everyone on the same page, problem solve and generate ideas rather than everyone needing to be kept up to date on an email chain.  Communication technologies can enable greater efficiencies – however they will never be able to replace face to face interaction and collaboration that occurs when teams meet together.

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