Having a big and organized office space for all employees, with clear rules and regulations, it’s the dream of every employer. From 1960. But you live in 2015. Although people’s lifestyle and expectations are drastically changed, companies don’t seam to keep the pace and don’t even take the time to analyze this. Allowing people to work from home, but also having a small shared working space might increase their productivity drastically, if done properly.
Employees have some problems that can be solved by changing the location of the “office”, but the companies have also some problems that it’s keeping them from giving more freedom to the employees. Let’s analyze them…
Employee problem: People’s schedule is flexible, the company’s not.
Small example: in the summer people tend to stay up later, maybe drink some beers well after midnight for three days a week. Those people will still wake up at 7 and arrive at work at 8, just like in every day of the year. The difference is they’ll be less productive than usual. Why? Because their employer insist that the schedule is from 8 to 17, with one hour lunch break from 12 to 13. Why? “Nobody actually know, but it’s the way things are, ok?”
The employees should be allowed to set (and adapt!) their own schedule, not adopt the one of the company.
Another issue: not all of us have the same work/sleep cycle. I’m usually more productive in the evening, so my best performances are lost because the employer rule is to be on my best performance from 8 to 17, with one hour break. A huge loss of productivity right there!
“But how will meetings be held if people don’t have the same schedule?” Let people self-organize their schedule. Mihai from Bucharest need to have a discussion with Josh from New York. Let the guys handle this. If they cannot talk directly on phone or Skype, they will e-mail or use a collaboration platform. People tend to find the most efficient way to communicate.
Employee problem: Commuting is a huge time waste
Get up at a specific time, choose and prepare something to wear, get to work either by car or by public transportation. The streets are crowded at this time. In the evening, try to get home on the same streets and the same time as all the office workers. Zero productivity during this time, huge frustration, big expenses.
Also, going to a doctor appointment or picking the kid from kindergartner can become a big logistic issue for the person.
Employee problem: Working in a office creates lifestyle and health issues
Stress at work seams to be the biggest health issue these days. When people don’t work from a office, they feel free to take some breaks from time to time, either to get a coffee for 20 minutes or to walk the dog. Also, usually after lunch, people are very sleepy. A small power nap (15 minutes) would do magic for the productivity, but hey, it’s not possible, you’re in an office!
Eating unhealthy is also a big issue. When at the office, people need to eat according to the company’s schedule. If they are busy between 12-13, just grab something, usually not very healthy, and eat in front of the computer.
Don’t forget the temperature. We all have that one colleague that want 16 degrees in the office during the summer and argues with the one that considers 25 degrees acceptable.
Company problem: The employers will not be responsible in their work
“Employees will not work responsible if you don’t keep them under control.” If the whip it’s your only motivation technique, you might have a bigger problem and should read another article, not one about increasing productivity.
People need distraction. Yes, I can work for 10 hours, but from time to time, I want to see a 1 minute video of a monkey riding a bicycle. Why don’t you let me?
Companies that block Facebook, Youtube etc. because it keeps the employees from being productive just have big employee management issue. Occasionally, unproductive time is spent at the office. Do you think that keeping them from distractions will not leave any choice but to do more work? Not really. They will just fill the day with other unnecessary activities. Wouldn’t it be better to motivate them to take an online course that will help your future project and their future careers?
Also, why would you want to keep an employee in the office if there’s nothing to do or if he’s not productive? Just let him go for the day and motivate him to work more when he’ll be at 110%.
Company problem: It’s a security concern if people work from outside the office
I often hear the phrase “we don’t allow people to work from home because of security concerns”. What security concerns? You are worried that people might steal you code? With all the technology available, you think that protection comes from keeping the employees in a building? Think again!
Employee problem: The work environment is not well suited for my needs
We all work in different ways. I enjoy working while listening to heavy-metal music, but others prefer absolute silence.The advantage of working from home is that you can create your own personalized working environment. Listen to what kind of music you like on speakers (it’s not healthy to wear headphones more that 1 hour, but a lot of people use them for 6-8 hours per day). Also, you don’t have the noisy colleagues arguing for 2 hours daily.
Ok, sometimes you feel the need of a noisy environment where ideas and small jokes flow around. That’s why the company needs a shared workspace where people can come from time to time.
Company problem: If I let people work from home, I need to provide equipment
You’ll only need to provide one laptop. People can work from home, from a coffee house, from a coffeeshop or from the beach, so they need mobility. You don’t need to provide anything else. People tend to take care of their own conform so, if they need a big monitor, a great mouse and an expensive chair, they will buy it from their own money, even if they use it only for work. As it’s bought for their home, they won’t perceive it as a work expense.
Not having a big office will drastically reduce the expenses and logistics. Think how much you’ll save!
Company problem: What if I change the policy, but doesn’t produces the desired results
Do a test at first. Let the people work from where they want. Try for 1-3 months and see if it increases productivity. See who prefers to work from home and who from the office. See who is more productive, who is less. Adapt. Change. Test again.
Off course, there problems and solutions don’t work in every field, but, especially in the IT industry, this out-of-the-box approach to the office can lead to better productivity and happier employees.