Tim Clapham

Member Article

Is working from home really so bad?

Tim Clapham, director of marketing at Planon Software looks at remote-working debate following the recent Yahoo story.

It has recently come to light that the CEO of Yahoo has banned its employees from working from home. According to the latest media reports, the memo that announced the decision talks about the importance of communication and collaboration, as well as the need for employees to be working ‘side-by-side’ in the offices.

Now, we don’t dispute the fact that face-to-face collaboration is indeed a driver for innovation and creativity. However, in most businesses, how much time is actually spent purely on innovation? 10%? Probably even less than that. So what about the rest?

Forcing people to work in offices will certainly not guarantee increased productivity, and in many cases will probably decrease it instead. People already spend far too much time on non-productive meetings, and these tend to last even longer when they are held face-to-face. So is it any wonder that so many Yahoo employees are reportedly feeling slighted by this latest announcement?

Putting the wants and needs of Yahoo’s employees to one side at the moment (which, according to some, is exactly what Yahoo is doing), the company may be overlooking some other benefits of homeworking. For example, by failing to embrace this modern way of working, the company may be missing out on a huge opportunity to save money by reducing its need for so much expensive office space.

Instead of dragging its employees back into large corporate offices, Yahoo should take the time to see how much of this space is actually being utilised effectively right now. This analysis may reveal that large swathes of its commercial property is actually being underused, and could therefore be offloaded without any detriment to the business. And if that’s the case, wouldn’t it be better for the company to think about reducing its reliance on expensive corporate real estate, rather than increasing it?

The annual energy consumption of one workplace is actually about the same as an average household these days – yet offices tend to be 45% vacant during office hours, and 100% vacant outside office hours. Armed with this information, just think of the implications that reducing Yahoo’s property footprint could have, not just from a cost point of view, but also environmentally.

Instead of increasing their reliance on expensive buildings and energy-hungry headquarters, perhaps Yahoo should be encouraging working from home. By measuring workplace occupancy as it stands right now, using a software solution such as Planon’s, and then aligning its resources accordingly, the company could probably reduce its energy consumption, lower its costs, deliver on its environmental commitments and support more flexible working, all at the same time.

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Planon Software .

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