Over the past month I’ve seen and read, what appears to be, an increasing number of articles covering the more negative aspects of home/hybrid working. Now we’ve passed the 2-year anniversary of the big move to a more home/remote based working model are the rose-coloured glasses perhaps starting to slip?
The lack of face-to-face interaction, no dedicated workspace, the intrusion of work into home life, and the difficulty some find in switching off are just some of the negatives mentioned. And it’s not just remote workers, this recent article by the BBC covered the emotional impact hybrid working is having on some employees. The additional stress of maintaining two workspaces, ensuring you have what you need, in the right place, the feeling of being unsettled, and the distraction of switching between home and office.
As a permanent home worker for nearly 6 years, it’s something I feel I know a bit about. While there are a plethora of benefits to a more flexible approach, the downsides can’t be ignored. However, that doesn’t mean we should all stop and revert to the traditional 9-5 Monday to Friday in the office. What it means is that rather than a knee-jerk reaction, business leaders need to consider their next move carefully. Look at each and every angle to assess the right move for them, be that a totally remote, hybrid, or traditional office model it needs to work for, and not against them.
My own personal experience highlights the different employee needs that can exist and shows why decisions need to be based on more than just the preference of a few people. What I want from a job as a mother of two in my 40s, is very different from what I wanted 20 years ago. Now I want a challenge, the autonomy to make the decisions plus the flexibility to integrate home and work life, I also have the space for a dedicated office. Then I wanted an office, the buzz of working in London, being able socialise with friends and colleagues, and the ability to learn both formally and by osmosis, from those more experienced than me. While I’d have loved the opportunity to work from home occasionally, I wouldn’t have wanted to do it full-time as I would have been working from my bedroom.
It’s simple facts like these that highlight why the move to a more flexible working model needs to be a considered decision and not something that can be taken lightly. When Chiumento made the move in 2017 it wasn’t a spur-of-the-moment decision. It was one that was seven years in the making. It happened after years of planning and we did it in stages, moving a proportion of our staff remotely, initially retaining a smaller office that could be used, tested we could attract the right people by recruiting team members as fully remote workers before making the move. We considered every impact both positive and negative before moving to a fully remote model.
We made the right decision and are strong advocates of remote working. However, that doesn’t mean it is the right decision for every organisation. As our CEO Ian Gooden describes it ‘Homeworking policy is a bit like personality. There’s no right or wrong – just situational appropriateness. What’s right for your organisation may be wrong for another. You just need to be sure you have considered all the key angles.’
Although we’ve been a fully remote working organisation for over 4 years, we are still learning. Still discovering how our leadership behaviours and people processes need to change and evolve. If you’d like help with a move to a more flexible working practice have a look at our management training module or get in touch via +44 20 7224 3307 to see how we can help.