As the workplace continues to evolve, workers find themselves with more options than ever before. Continuously advancing home technology means it has never been easier to work from home, with increasing numbers of office workers choosing to do so. However, flexible working has also seen a rise in popularity, leading to potential confusion amongst managers as to what is most effective for reaching their work goals.
Identifying the Subtle Differences
On paper, there does not seem to be a huge difference between the concepts of working from home and flexible working. Working from home, by definition, means 100% telecommuting (although some may find they have to attend occasional meetings or travel). It has become an increasingly popular choice for many reasons, most notably successful for working parents or those facing long and tiring commutes.
Flexible working is a slightly more complicated concept: workers are not expected to work traditional office hours, and can move their hours around to suit their lifestyles, which may include choosing to work from home. Another obvious sought-after working style for parents, or simply those looking to tackle the modern issue of a healthy work/life balance.
Both Have Their Merits
A 2016 survey by FlexJobs found both flexible working and working from home had their own individual benefits: 51% of people surveyed admitted they felt most productive when working from home, away from office distractions. While flexible working still entails going to the office, albeit not on a full-time basis, it can include non-standard office hours – 8% of people surveyed said they found working in the office outside of normal working hours to be best for their productivity. Overall, 80% felt the concept of flexible working was important to them, with 74% mainly concerned about their work/life balance. 81% also stated they’d be more loyal to their employers in return for alternative working options (including both standard flexible working and working from home). Ultimately, the concept of working from home proved more popular than flexible working, with 86% of those surveyed specifying they would prefer a role consisting of 100% telecommuting; compared to 73% wishing for a generally flexible role and 49% preferring partial telecommuting.
Impact of Technology
Why does working from home seem to have more appeal? At first glance, the idea of solely working from home seems simpler, and has no doubt been made easier with the advancement of home technology, such as faster broadband. Conversely, combining part-time telecommuting with a flexible office schedule may seem intimidating to some. More organisation may be needed, both in the office environment and on behalf of the employee. Solutions like desk booking software can help save time, space and business expenditure.
In brief, both types of working can be successful both for the individual employee and overall business, reportedly improving productivity and decreasing business costs. In our fast-paced world, both working from home and flexible working offer an alternative way of working that helps defeat the poor work/life balance so many face. Depending on the nature of your business, and your employees’ preferences, either one may be key to a happier and more effective working life.