Blog | 03.11.2012

Think It Through Before Approving Work from Home

An excuse to get away with less work – more often than not, managers think of this when they get a request from someone asking to work from home.

One cannot blame them, this is a natural reaction.

Step into the shoes of a manager, and you will understand his/her doubts on how much work will get done at home, and the concern that everyone will start asking for the same benefit.

Certainly, one can have a lot of distractions while working at home. Family, especially children, will intrude on your time. You will have opted to work from home to probably help with specific work that was necessary – whether it is for guests, children, getting your passport done, or a medical emergency. All of this meant that time for work was going to be limited.

The raison d’être for going to office for work was that focused effort becomes possible. It is a way to make sure that employees are actually working, and it enables collaboration through scheduled and unplanned meetings and discussions between team members.

Yet, more and more companies are now facilitating and even encouraging work from home. Why is this happening?

In today’s world where, geographical boundaries are losing their meaning, people interact across continents cutting across multiple time zones; it is not necessary that business can be conducted only from office. One can take a Sales call right from ones’ home at 1 am in the night, or prepare a critical business proposal from an airplane.

With the help of the internet, laptops, iPads, and smart phones, the work place and work hours have become fluid. You can work from anywhere and at any time.

The real question is this: Are we mature enough to handle the enormous flexibility that work from home offers? Do we have the self-discipline to make sure that we do justice to our work?

Even self-discipline may not suffice. We already juggle so many tasks, that it is impossible to know much about our work time. We write code, review documents, send lots of emails, do business and personal chat, attend planned meetings, have informal discussions, field innumerable calls, fill up all kinds of reports, and so on.

All this at work and increasingly outside it. Work from home, and all the distractions there eat up even more of our time.

We will review this in part II of my blog in a few days. Meanwhile, your comments are most welcome.