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Hidden pitfalls of home working and how to avoid them

20 April 2015 07:48 am - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}


When it comes to searching for a new job, a “flexible approach” to work is a job attribute that job hunters look for and employers have responded by using remote working as a selling point to attract such individuals into their work force.
In fact, today’s companies have had to embrace remote working as employees demand more freedom to choose their own work location.
However, far too often remote working is simply synonymous with home working, regardless of whether this space is professional enough or is properly equipped to perform even basic work functions comfortably and efficiently. 
Research carried out by Regus, the world’s largest provider of flexible workspace, revealed that makeshift home office arrangements often do not provide workers with the necessary work environment (21 percent). 
This means that firstly, the employee is unable to carry out work at the optimum level and secondly, the output from the employee may be compromised in terms of quality and timeliness. The research also revealed that this type of poor home working arrangements forced them into working in uncomfortable seating positions for long periods of time (20 percent) with the risk of causing repetitive strain injury and discomfort.

Is it productive?
The Regus research also shows that far too many businesses leave employees to set up their own workspace maintain it and obtain any relevant insurance or health and safety measures. In fact, it is revealed that while 61 percent of workers globally say they have a home office, only half (51 percent) report this is a fully-functional and well-equipped professional space. This confirms views that home working is not ideal for concentration and productivity.
Even from the 51 percent that confirmed that their home office is a fully functional and well-equipped professional space, only a third (34 percent) stated that their employer made the investment to equip the work space.With a fifth of employees claimed that setting up a fully functioning professional office costs roughly the equivalent of a monthly salary, the fact that the companies let the employees equip their own home office space means a significant saving for them. 
Apart from the high initial investment, employees had to spend an expenditure of $3400 a year or equivalent to run and maintain this work space with electricity usage being the major contributor to this cost. Such statistics has resulted in employees believing that by encouraging staff to work from home companies are just trying save money by shifting costs onto employees.

Employer’s liability
What many companies do not realize is that these makeshift offices could turn into a liability as the legislation of many countries states that regardless of location, employee safety is the employer’s responsibility when they are carrying out work tasks. 
With 77 percent of the Regus research respondents stated that they do not take out the appropriate insurance cover on this home workspace, this liability represented by not regulating this workspace is enormous. 
The solution to these multiple issues faced by companies in home working is relatively simple. With just a small investment, companies can provide workers with access to fully-equipped workspaces closer to their homes. This could help firms provide a low-cost, fully-compliant environment for workers who need to save time and money by reducing their daily commute. Access to a near-by professional workplace offers the best of both worlds as it can help improve productivity while offering workers the flexibility they demand.

(The writer is the Country Manager of Regus Sri Lanka the local operations of Regus PLC - the world’s largest flexible workspace provider and a LSE listed company with presence in over 100 countries)

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