With the government calling for more people to work from home during the 2012 Olympics, corporate bosses across the capital will be waking-up with night sweats from increasingly recurring nightmares about their employees watching “The Games” at their expense. And yet time and again it is shown that home-workers save companies money, are up to 20% more productive and are less likely to throw a sickie.
The cause of the boss’ night-frights is generally unfounded – it stems from the natural urge of a manager to control and if they cannot see their employees, they cannot control them or their behaviour. Where are they? What are they doing? Why haven’t they called-in? Worryingly, the boss’ insecurity can often lead to protocols that the home-worker must observe: occasional emails copied around the management chain; the odd phone call during the day with a question or request; and, always being instantly contactable by telephone for spot-checks (sorry, “unforeseen important matters”). The manager can set a whole raft of these and similar conditions that must be followed – not by them but by everyone else. And then you have distrust on both sides of the camp.
As managers, we need to let go of the desire to control every last minutiae of our teams’ input to the corporate objective. If you are still getting the results you would expect of your home worker when they were in the office, then they are doing their work from home effectively. Chances are that they are working longer (wasted commuting time often becomes productive home working time) and producing better work (without the constant interruptions of office life). So let’s work at changing management mindsets towards home-working and have an enjoyable and productive 2012 Olympics.