Working From Home: The Next Big Work Trend?

As technology means more and more jobs can be done remotely, working from home is becoming a more feasible option for employees to complete their role. But is it actually a good idea and who will it work for?

With the London Olympics looming, a test conducted by O2 in February 2012 compelled 2875 workers in their Slough office stay at home and perform their duties from the warmth of their beds and living rooms. The test saw an additional 1,000 hours of work completed, time normally used to travel to the office. Good news for the O2 management staff.

Employees also felt the benefit, with the move allowing more time for sleep, a combined reduction of £9000 in travel-costs and more time to spend with their families.

Ben Dowd, O2’s Business Director said that the experiment tested “the principles that will build the future of work” and that it “proves that even the largest organisations can protect themselves from the most severe disruptions to their business”. It sounds like the plan worked a treat for all involved, doesn’t it?

On the other side of the coin, Yahoo CEO, Marisa Mayer deplored the number of staff who worked remotely from home, calling all employees to report to the one of Yahoo’s offices.

The HR move caused uproar amongst Yahoo insiders affected by the change, saying that it would severely impact their personal lives and is a far cry away from making it “the absolute best place to work” – a quote made when Mayer first took up her tenure.

Evidence has suggested that some housebound Yahoo-ers have “milked the company” according ex-colleagues who have supported the move, believing the working from home policy had been abused by many.

Two big organisations, two attempts at home working, two very different results. So, what’s the differing factor?

Put simply – success and morale. O2 made £332 million in profit last year. Yahoo has made significant losses in past few years becoming the big struggler of the tech sector (though Mayer has started to steer the ship around).

It seems big losses and long suffering employee morale does not make a company fit for home working. O2 has paid out £15 million in bonuses to employees as a part of its ‘Thanks a Million’ scheme due to customer satisfaction feedback.

It seems a happy worker in a fledging business makes for a good home worker. But, as the recent example of Yahoo shows, taking away home-working has made some employees miserable. It seems the jury is still out on whether we’ll be answering our emails in bed with a cup of tea with Jeremy Kyle on in the background.