Can People Be Trusted To Work From Home?

Posted in Human Resources Articles, Total Reads: 956 , Published on 11 October 2012

Many businesses today are considering the option of working from home. Whilst it won’t be suit every kind of job, advancements in communication technology make it possible for many tasks and jobs.

But there is still an element of uncertainty for many managers. There are some clear advantages – not having to commute, which gives an employee so much additional time to either work or use as free time. Either way this boosts the productivity by relieving the employee of the drain of the travel.

But then there are some issues which makes a company hold back from taking up the policy of working from home. Some of these are -


Knowing that your employee is actually working and not lounging around watching TV or may be even collecting a salary from you, but working for somebody else, is vital. It may pay to be wary of someone who is new to the company that is requesting for a working from home option, before they have had some runs on the board. But on the other side of the equation you would be able to engender trust by permitting someone to work from home. It can help them immensely in maintaining a work/life balance and can really assist people in their daily lives, especially single parents, people with their parents or grandparents to take care of, etc.


The expectations from an employee working from home should be made clear from the start. The first thing to clarify would be if the productivity would be measured in hours or outcomes. If it is going to be in hours, then a minimum number of hours need to be set that you expect the employee to commit to the job. Flexibility is then allowed around this. The alternative is setting outputs as the expectations. Here an employee works towards goals of how much work is produced, rather than how much time it takes to produce. As long as the expectations are clear to the employer as well as the employee, violations of trust can be avoided.


The biggest advantage of having a whole team in a single office is the ease of communication. If an urgent meeting has to be called or people from other departments are required, it can be done easily in a short span of time. But the nature of communication changes in a work from home arrangement. The rules of communication need to be built up then. It could be by email, or may be a text or a phone call in case of urgency or when a two-way dialogue is required. But the flexibility of the work at home arrangement, though being its major strength becomes a major restraining factor to set timetables for discussions. To avoid this, a fixed time can be allotted per week when everybody would be available for meeting, if required. Use of Skype sessions is also immensely useful.


This forms a major reason for resistance to provide for work from home arrangements - the fear of reduced security around file storage. Within the confines of the office, the IT department ensures secure connections and firewalls to prevent viruses and hacking of important and sensitive information. But if somebody connects to the network from an external source, it becomes a point of vulnerability and adds to the complexity of the job of the systems department. Beyond these security measures, managers and employees need to agree on the preferred use and sharing of files.

This article has been authored by Bhavi Patel from IRMA.


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