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Why don't more companies get their employees to work from home?

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For those that have desk jobs - why do many companies still insist their employees must physically be in a particular place to do that job, when they could do it from anywhere?

I can already imagine the answers :-

  • they don't trust their employees to do the job properly from home
  • they are protecting management jobs that require the traditional office set-up - vested interests want to keep these "makework" jobs
  • a feeling they are "losing control" by not collecting everyone in the same place every working day
  • "people love office banter" < sorry, not good enough :)

But the advantages are compelling:-

  • you can offer "better paid jobs" because employees aren't spending money on petrol / public transport getting to work.  The hours are "less" too as they save 1 to 2 hours of travelling to and from work.  So, "more pay" for "less hours" (this is true). 
  • you need a lot less office space
  • those traditional management roles....who needs them? Save money by firing these useless people who really just depend on the office environment to justify their job
  • perhaps you don't even need an office. You hire a hotel suite once a week for a weekly meeting
  • you can have face-to-face meetings anytime via the internet
  • it's easy to measure performance given all work is done online / via extranet
  • remote working will self-select those that want to do that kind of work - people who need the flexibility (who doesn't these days).  And for those that love this kind of work, you have very high staff morale. 

The technology has been here for over 10 years but it seems companies aren't using it to its fullest potential.

I'm thinking more of the smaller company - 5 to 20 employees - that kind of size.  Sure, for bigger companies, it might be harder to manage. 

 

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When I had my exams to do I actually paid for office space for a couple of months out of my own pocket. Just found I was much more productive getting ready on a morning and stepping into a work environment. Im not saying people shouldnt be allowed to work from home. But unless you have a proper work space (and who has that in a tiny london flat), then your productivity will suffer. 

I would miss being around people after a while.

Edited by 999house

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I think it will happen. I spend the majority of my week working from home anyhow - and mostly only go to the office for a day or two because of the previously described manager types. 

If you are an early pioneer, isolation is an issue as is office politics in the real world office. I found out in the middle of last year that someone had been briefing against me for nearly a year together with refusing to supply me information to do my job. I'd had my suspicions that something was wrong, because I was hearing baffling comments in some of the meetings I was attending remotely.  But of course wasn't around to see it. A senior manager eventually told me via my line manager.   Said individual is guilty of massive presenteeism and can be quite often found there after 8.30pm still gossiping to colleagues. 

Edited by StainlessSteelCat

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Relatively speaking commercial premises cost peanuts to rent/buy compared to residential property... I imagine if commercial space was as expensive as residential there would be far more firms looking to get their employees working from home.

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8 minutes ago, 999house said:

The thing is, you only need to work from home if youre in london. Anywhere else you can afford a house close to work. 

A ridiculously inaccurate and typically London-centric statement.

 

So affordability isn't an issue across the whole of the UK apart from London is it?.... Great News!

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8 minutes ago, nome said:

A ridiculously inaccurate and typically London-centric statement.

 

So affordability isn't an issue across the whole of the UK apart from London is it?.... Great News!

Example?

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43 minutes ago, 999house said:

Example?

I worked in Leatherhead. One colleague commuted from Chippenham and another from near Brighton. Nobody on normal wages could afford to buy within 20 miles.

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3 hours ago, 999house said:

When I had my exams to do I actually paid for office space for a couple of months out of my own pocket. Just found I was much more productive getting ready on a morning and stepping into a work environment. Im not saying people shouldnt be allowed to work from home. But unless you have a proper work space (and who has that in a tiny london flat), then your productivity will suffer. 

I would miss being around people after a while.

That just depends on the person.  I work better at home - less distractions, and I'm much more motivated because when I work, I work.  I am not in front of my computer simply because the time happens to be between 9AM and 5PM.  Office life can be full of politics as well - favouritism, pecking orders, the usual stuff.  I have a lot more time on my hands, no commute, no commute costs too.

I can't help but think a lot of smaller businesses will end up offering telecommuting to not only save costs themselves, but employees will demand this kind of work more and more to save themselves commuting costs.  I calculated yesterday that it will take up £10K of your salary just to have a train season ticket + car park season ticket from Northampton to London.  It just seems ludicrous if someone pays all that money PLUS spending 10 to 20 hours a week moving their brain from home to work and back again - I declare that the world is mad and that I am sane.

Edited by canbuywontbuy

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2 hours ago, nome said:

Relatively speaking commercial premises cost peanuts to rent/buy compared to residential property... I imagine if commercial space was as expensive as residential there would be far more firms looking to get their employees working from home.

But your employees already have a place they can work from.  No office costs (or hiring a hotel suite one time a week) V office rent, furniture, utility bills - it will always be cheaper to have your workers work from home.

Edited by canbuywontbuy

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I work from home 2 days a week as a business analyst and i really cant stand it.

Working from home was introduced during a desk move. As a team of 8 we were moved from an area where we had 8 desks to an area where we had 5 desks between us. Pure costcutting.

When wfh was introduced a woman came round explaining the virtues of wfh. They used the example of the person with the longest commute, 4 hours daily, to ask her how much more productive she could be with an extra 4 hours a day to put into her job, if you could log in at 7am and get cracking instead of that just being the start of your commute. My employer clearly believes they own my commuting time as well as my '9-5'.

Living in a small noisy house with two kids i find it very difficult to get the quiet to work. I have to work at the kitchen table and dread meetings being booked around school kicking out time.

You have to buy your own equipment. Im using a 7 year old laptop. i struggled to work on a small screen and in the end bought a 24inch ext monitor on gumtree to give me a chance of doing constructive work.

You need decent broadband. My old manager was mortified she could only get 2mb at her newbuild estate. Bt fibre has been 'coming soon' for 4 years. 

So i would imagine its the young londoners in flatshares who would suffer the most from this policy. No control over the quality of their utilities, no space to use as an office, no control over the noise their flatmates make etc. 

Personally i resent my employer coming into my home and telling me and my family what we can do and where and when we can do it.

 

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11 minutes ago, regprentice said:

I work from home 2 days a week as a business analyst and i really cant stand it.

Working from home was introduced during a desk move. As a team of 8 we were moved from an area where we had 8 desks to an area where we had 5 desks between us. Pure costcutting.

When wfh was introduced a woman came round explaining the virtues of wfh. They used the example of the person with the longest commute, 4 hours daily, to ask her how much more productive she could be with an extra 4 hours a day to put into her job, if you could log in at 7am and get cracking instead of that just being the start of your commute. My employer clearly believes they own my commuting time as well as my '9-5'.

Living in a small noisy house with two kids i find it very difficult to get the quiet to work. I have to work at the kitchen table and dread meetings being booked around school kicking out time.

You have to buy your own equipment. Im using a 7 year old laptop. i struggled to work on a small screen and in the end bought a 24inch ext monitor on gumtree to give me a chance of doing constructive work.

You need decent broadband. My old manager was mortified she could only get 2mb at her newbuild estate. Bt fibre has been 'coming soon' for 4 years. 

So i would imagine its the young londoners in flatshares who would suffer the most from this policy. No control over the quality of their utilities, no space to use as an office, no control over the noise their flatmates make etc. 

Personally i resent my employer coming into my home and telling me and my family what we can do and where and when we can do it.

 

What's your commute time / costs? It sounds like it's not that much. 

I think as house costs increase and people live further and further away from work....telecommuting can be a realistic option.

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I live 6 miles from work i've colleagues commuting anything ip to 65 miles.

The general consensus of opinion seems to be that 2 days a week from home is the most anyone wants to do. More than that and you feel really disconnected from the people you work with. Also, any manager/leader you have will be on 2 days a week as well...i know a few people who only share 1 day a week in the office with their boss. Its not as good as it sounds and getting things done can be a pain the the ****.'go away and come back next week'...

I work for a bank. I think the smaller businesses you talk about have different concerns. Particularly losing ip/pricelists etc to competitors and they would be reluctant to let that data out of their 'control'. The vpn/ remote desktop software i use cant be screengrabbed but i can bring it 'side by side' with my own desktop. And i could transcribe info out if i was so minded.

I think there are businesses looking specifically to employ people who want to work from home....but....they seem hellbent on only offering self employed 'microwork' where you hang about all day to pick up 15 mins work proofreading webpages etc. Im thinking of outfits like leapforce.

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I can understand why anyone would not like to work from home and could not work productively if they do not have a quiet organised area within the home without distraction.....Know of a few where it works very well, in fact someone talking to was in the process of working from home much of the time this year and is looking forward to it.......So really all it requires is happy office space close to where you live, am sure any large decent firm could hire satellite working pods in different areas of the country for their staff to make use of, saving commuting time, housing and travel costs....not forgetting the benefits of fresh air.;)

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The problem is.. if it can be done from home, it can be done from Bangalore.. so unless the job requires Sec clearance, we know what will eventually happen.. in fact where I work, most roles need justification for why it can't be done offshore..

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6 minutes ago, moneyfornothing said:

The problem is.. if it can be done from home, it can be done from Bangalore.. so unless the job requires Sec clearance, we know what will eventually happen.. in fact where I work, most roles need justification for why it can't be done offshore..

Some places in the UK are already considered as offshore by some.;)

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15 minutes ago, moneyfornothing said:

The problem is.. if it can be done from home, it can be done from Bangalore.. so unless the job requires Sec clearance, we know what will eventually happen.. in fact where I work, most roles need justification for why it can't be done offshore..

There is one rather large problem with this plan that many companies have already found to their cost. 

It's a huge generalisation of course - but it really seems to ring true from anyone with experience of this. 

Any role that requires any type of thinking or just getting on with things to solve a problem - or in fact even just piping up and informing people there is a problem in the first place - Indians are useless at.

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2 hours ago, CunningPlan said:

I worked in Leatherhead. One colleague commuted from Chippenham and another from near Brighton. Nobody on normal wages could afford to buy within 20 miles.

Isn't Brighton equally expensive if not more?

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5 minutes ago, ccc said:

There is one rather large problem with this plan that many companies have already found to their cost. 

It's a huge generalisation of course - but it really seems to ring true from anyone with experience of this. 

Any role that requires any type of thinking or just getting on with things to solve a problem - or in fact even just piping up and informing people there is a problem in the first place - Indians are useless at.

Indians in the US away from India can be good. Theres a hurdle set, and they work hard.

Any work being done in India goes nuts. Hard to explain. I was party to a big and i mean bjg attempt at setting up an Indian campus. Hand sekected Indians from the US site were sent back. 6 months later the most trusted/senior person had hired his entire family and company building budget had been spent on building their houses. The jaw drops of just WTF happened - inc. mine- wed nver seen snyhthing like it. The company had sunk millions and billions in regions round the world,so hardly green.

 

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1 hour ago, regprentice said:

I work from home 2 days a week as a business analyst and i really cant stand it.

Working from home was introduced during a desk move. As a team of 8 we were moved from an area where we had 8 desks to an area where we had 5 desks between us. Pure costcutting.

When wfh was introduced a woman came round explaining the virtues of wfh. They used the example of the person with the longest commute, 4 hours daily, to ask her how much more productive she could be with an extra 4 hours a day to put into her job, if you could log in at 7am and get cracking instead of that just being the start of your commute. My employer clearly believes they own my commuting time as well as my '9-5'.

Living in a small noisy house with two kids i find it very difficult to get the quiet to work. I have to work at the kitchen table and dread meetings being booked around school kicking out time.

You have to buy your own equipment. Im using a 7 year old laptop. i struggled to work on a small screen and in the end bought a 24inch ext monitor on gumtree to give me a chance of doing constructive work.

You need decent broadband. My old manager was mortified she could only get 2mb at her newbuild estate. Bt fibre has been 'coming soon' for 4 years. 

So i would imagine its the young londoners in flatshares who would suffer the most from this policy. No control over the quality of their utilities, no space to use as an office, no control over the noise their flatmates make etc. 

Personally i resent my employer coming into my home and telling me and my family what we can do and where and when we can do it.

 

 
 

Mate, do you not have a union? If so, you and your colleagues need to form one and get recognition. 

Your company should be supplying the equipment as well as ensuring you all have workspace assessment tests (even if self-administered) and paying for any additional costs eg broadband, telephone calls etc.  

Buy some decent equipment and pay for it on expenses. 

They actually have legal requirements in some of these areas:

http://www.hse.gov.uk/msd/risk.htm

Edited by StainlessSteelCat

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11 minutes ago, ccc said:

There is one rather large problem with this plan that many companies have already found to their cost. 

It's a huge generalisation of course - but it really seems to ring true from anyone with experience of this. 

Any role that requires any type of thinking or just getting on with things to solve a problem - or in fact even just piping up and informing people there is a problem in the first place - Indians are useless at.

Id use the word trusted to do stuff.

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5 minutes ago, spyguy said:

Id use the word trusted to do stuff.

Agreed.

Although being pedantic that's a phrase not a word. :D

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Working from home can have many advantages. For example, I can just nip out to watch my son's cricket, rugby etc matches and make up the hours later.

The downside is that many people don't believe you are actually working and your time becomes undervalued. You can end up being the local parcel delivery depot, driver for any daytime event and other distractions that no one would expect you to do if you had a 'proper' job at a real office.

 

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1 hour ago, ccc said:

There is one rather large problem with this plan that many companies have already found to their cost. 

It's a huge generalisation of course - but it really seems to ring true from anyone with experience of this. 

Any role that requires any type of thinking or just getting on with things to solve a problem - or in fact even just piping up and informing people there is a problem in the first place - Indians are useless at.

The irony is that the offshoring decisions are usually made by White British folk and none of their cohort seem to 'pipe up and inform there is a problem in the first place' .. I feel another generalisation coming on ..

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