Push the boundaries
Virtual Private Network (VPN) systems deliver secure remote IT connections to enable access to intranet, document exchanges. It is possible already for many roles to be carried out remotely that were formerly deskbound because of access-requirements.
Of course there are many occupations where remote working is largely incompatible with core aspects of work. But, how much time do those people spend on email? It may be possible to vary travel-to-work patterns to enable some homeworking.
Different patterns of homeworking
It is possible to work occasionally from home, on an ad hoc basis, to meet a deadline, to undertake research, or to save travel time to a client. This pattern is most frequently used by senior figures and is then the most frequently criticised by the other staff who cannot enjoy the same privilege. People notice if the pattern tends to favour Fridays, or the morning after the conference. Senior managers may be well advised to adopt patterns that cannot add to cynicism amongst staff, and always to ensure that they are available to take telephone calls.
This arrangement tends not to require the employer's support for a home office.
Regular split patterns of partial homeworking can be arranged - so that the individual is routinely in the office on certain days, and working remotely on others.
Mobile working has similar implications: the job role requires the employee to spend significant time out and about. Rather than having to return to base to collect paper instructions or to deliver completion reports, the documents can be worked on by remote access, via a laptop computer or handheld device.
Full homeworking is the pattern where the individual no longer has a dedicated workspace in the office, and the normal expectation is that s/he works at home.
A variation is working from home, where the nature of the work requires frequent travel to visit clients, so that the home is the base but the individual actually spends most time out and about.
Partial and full homeworking are likely to require the employer to ensure that the physical arrangements are satisfactory in relation to workstation ergonomics.