In many jobs it can be attractive to use a working environment free from the interruptions and noise associated with the traditional workplace. Reduced travel time and cost and the ability to interact by email and telephone when contact is necessary, all make homeworking attractive.
The following high-level factors should be considered.
- Is the nature of the job compatible with homeworking? Those interruptions and that noise may be essential for service delivery.
- Trust. Many managers faced with a request from a team member to work from home react negatively. They wonder: 'If I can't see him, how do I know he is working?'
This reaction may be more of a comment on the Manager than the employee. The Manager's sense of control may be based only on presenteeism, the jacket on the chair, rather than a commitment to service delivery through clearly defined standards and outputs monitored through effective performance management.
But, not every job/role is suited to homeworking; for example, where there is a high level of face-to-face interaction or where access to specific equipment is required.
- The home environment. It is wrong to assume that everyone lives in a leafy suburb of detached villas with spare rooms available to create an office, and it may be that there are likely to be more interruptions in the home environment than at work. The employer's duty of care for staff exists regardless of the location of their work.
- Organisation policies should provide clear enabling guidance. They should not be so compliance orientated that busy line managers are likely to be put off.