Flexible working isn’t for everyone. If you happen to be disorganised and/or lazy then working from home is a recipe for complete disaster. You will procrastinate and leave everything to the last minute so that you’re staying up all night, scrambling to meet a deadline. If you are a scatty mess, working from home is going to be a productivity death sentence. We’ve all been there (at university), but this is the big, bad grown-up world and if you’re a mess you’re not going to do well without the structure of a physical workplace.
That said, working at a time and in a place that is the most productive for you as an individual (rather than as a generic employee, who has to pretend not to have a life outside of work) can be a dream scenario. Working flexibly leads to improved morale, greater trust between employees and management, a better work-life balance, the ability to share childcare, and be less constrained by the traditional 9-5. In many industries (though of course not all) set hours when everyone has to be in the office (e.g. Mondays and Wednesdays 12-2pm) may negative completely the need for the entire staff to be together for 40+ hours per week, and additionally, technology means that everyone can be in touch all the time with no need to be in the same location at all.
From a practical point of view, working from home circumvents the morning commute. Who hasn’t dashed in late to the office, harassed, stressed, frustrated and in a blind rage from cancelled trains, gridlock and parking woes? And, for the parents among us, who hasn’t sat in a late-running meeting, clock-watching and sweating as the childcare pick-up time ticks closer and closer? Not the most productive way to start and finish your working day.
Consideration must also be made of different hours of work suiting different people, and different skill-sets. Creative people may find themselves more inspired later in the day and into the evening, IT developers might be early birds, HR managers might find people more accessible in the early evening, so why force it during the hours of 9-5?
Staying motivated during the working day is a huge reason to work flexibly. Motivation equals productivity, at the end of the day, and when the afternoon slump hits and productivity takes a nosedive, a home worker can get out in the fresh air, go for a run/walk and get re-energised, rather than sitting at a desk slowly grinding to a halt
Unfortunately there still seems to be a stigma attached to working from home – there needs to be a level of trust on both sides, and working from home is not seen as a day off (even if you do the school run and empty the dishwasher). Home workers often work longer hours than those in the office, almost to prove that they are working and not shirking. This is counter-productive and no one should feel guilty about not being in the office. After all, someone’s ability to do a good job does not depend on whether they are wearing pyjamas at the time.