Working From Home… Is It Good Or Bad?

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In recent months there has been a pickup in discussions. What sparked it? Marissa Mayer, the recently named CEO of Yahoo announced earlier this year that work-from-home arrangements would no longer be permitted. If they want to remain employed, they need to go back to Yahoo’s offices by June.

Is That A Smart Policy For Yahoo?

There was a big debate when Mayer announced the change. Partially because the affected employees were very upset but also because there is a common perception that employees working from home are more productive. Mayer did not even say that was the reason for the change. Rather, it was made in an effort to create an incredible work environment at its corporate offices.

That is a move that few companies are making. In the past 5-6 years, the number of people working from home has almost doubled to 20-30 million. Why? Companies save a lot on costs, have happier employees that are said to be more productive. It’s a win-win right? There are certainly downsides even for employees such as missing out on some connections with coworkers, being able to create a better team spirit, etc. But the benefits are at least as significant: flexible hours, being able to avoid losing time in commute, etc. I’ve also seen many new moms returning to work sooner in the form of working from home. They can still be of good presence for their baby, but can handle little projects while baby’s sleeping for example. These women told me the transition between maternity leave and going back to work felt smooth because they could do it gradually.

On the other hand, I guess that many employers still have the feeling they can’t “control” their employees as much when they’re left by themselves at home. Some surely think they’re paying someone to do its laundry or chat on Facebook, although I doubt this would be good habits to take. Not to mention that workers-from-home are often well aware that their work appreciation will be based on performance and efficiency rather than on their social skills.

The One Key

I would personally love to work from home and I’m confident it will happen eventually. What I’m most curious about is finding out if I’d have the discipline to be more productive working from home. It would not be about the number of hours worked but about making them count, avoiding distractions, etc. Let’s be honest though, there are always some distractions, no matter if you work at home or at your office. Maybe the goal should not be to eliminate them all, but to be conscious of it and trying to avoid them as much as possible. Having an established work schedule with short breaks even when you work from home surely helps too.

There might also be the fear of others opinion. Although I’m not the kind of guy who cares about it that much, I can imagine it can become annoying to be seen as the “lucky lazy one” working from home. Not everyone values the objective of conjugating work and family that much. Maybe it’s because the generations before didn’t have this opportunity so it looks to them as wasting time.

My business partner and I have discussed about both working from home at some point but we also would want to have an office where we’d meet a couple of times per week with other employees. Exchanging new ideas, brainstorming and team consolidation seem easier in front of your colleagues than by emails. That certainly seems like the ideal mix between the two.

Do any of you work from home? Would you like to? Any thoughts?

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