Even before the pandemic outbreak, many successful companies benefited from the Home Office working model.
Their results included increased production and cost savings, among others, as organizations took advantage of the advantages of technology, which made it possible to have remote workers.
When COVID-19 started, these organizations were the first to adapt to the lockdowns seamlessly.
Here we explain why a well-planned and organized Home Office will continue to be the working model that will maintain your organization’s productivity and competitiveness.
HOME OFFICE ORIGIN AND CURRENT VALIDITY
According to The Economist, the term Home Office emerged after the economic recession of 2008, when many companies –for the most part, American– were forced to save resources on facilities and furniture, sending part of their staff to work remotely.
The same British publication indicated that, by 2019, up to 50% of Americans were working from home, at least partially.
The Home Office was gaining strength as technological advances perfected and facilitated the use of the remote model even before the pandemic.
From there, basic rules agreed upon by employees and management began to take shape:
- Determining which workdays would be remote
- Endorsing the commitment to maintaining productivity
- Providing support for expenses such as electricity, internet service, and cellphone.
The emergence of COVID hastened the use of this format due to health considerations. Companies could not put the health of their workers at risk by forcing them to attend work centers or to travel by mass transportation under a high risk of contagion.
Companies reorganized their work schemes based on the proliferation of new technological platforms.
WHY USE IT?
Although many companies are certain that the Home Office brings significant savings, a thing to consider is its application involves a strategic plan to follow.
A lax application of the Home Office, without supervision or rules to be followed, is doomed to failure and economic losses for the company.
In order to drive productivity, your remote work scheme must include:
- Definition of key performance indicators for employees. Work with individual or team goals, which should be measurable and visible to all.
- Use of cloud technology. Companies should invest in software that stores and protects data in the cloud. Your company must have a platform that integrates calendar, e-mail, and access from any electronic device.
- Adequate workspace. Employees should be required to design and create a workspace in their homes that make them feel in a labor environment.
- Open communication. It is crucial that there is a secure and permanent remote connection between employees and team leaders or management. Communication and coordination go hand in hand for efficient work.
- Schedules and breaks. Both employees and leaders must respect and comply with established schedules, so break periods should be agreed upon, whether for lunch or relaxation. There should always be a line between home and professional work.
The Home Office work scheme has advantages –and disadvantages–, and most of them have to do with the employees’ health.
Numerous studies, such as the one conducted by Airtasker, found that working at home benefits employees by eliminating the daily commute to work and increases productivity and the well-being of the companies’ talent.
These are some of the advantages of the Home Office for both the company and the employee:
- Elimination of commuting. As mentioned above, reducing or eliminating the daily commute translates into less pollution, lower fuel costs, and less stress for workers. According to researchers, the average telecommuter saves more than $4,500 annually in gasoline costs.
- Cost savings. For companies, it means reducing physical spaces for employees that represent expenses such as daily maintenance and furniture. Employees use the savings on transportation for other priorities in their homes or family.
- Workplace discipline. Employees must discipline themselves at home to meet the company’s daily objectives, distributing their working and rest hours. Employees being compliant and orderly is a must since management or team leaders will monitor their work regularly.
- No distractions. Staying at home often offers social distractions that lead to failure to meet company goals or, even worse, reduced productivity therefore it is imperative to keep track of established KPI’s on an ongoing basis.
- Flexible scheduling. Employees have the freedom to meet production goals on the schedule that management demands. Thus, they must be able to decide when it is convenient for them to work according to the surrounding circumstances at home, but always meet established deadlines.
- Physical and emotional health. Not commuting to the workplace means employees can spend more time with their family or acquaintances. It is perhaps one of the main advantages of the Home Office since that social integration results in the employees’ better physical and emotional health.
A Home Office working model can also bring disadvantages to the bosses or employees if there is a lack of discipline, and worse if there are no health care improvements.
These are the disadvantages identified:
- Social isolation. Staying isolated from the rest of the company’s personnel leads to depression, crises and even loneliness and irritability. At Kreativa we make it a point to conduct group activities, remote to presential when possible, to assure the mental wellbeing of our personnel.
- Physical ailments. If employees don’t keep a balance between work and rest hours, they may show an imbalance to the detriment of their health. Prolonged work in front of the computer leads to visual fatigue and muscle stiffness therefore we advise our staff to take a short walk, stretch and breathe every 90 min or so.
- Extension of the working day. Many employees frequently extend their work hours due to a lack of discipline. Others even work sick, which further affects their health.
- Weight gain. Lack of exercise leads to a sedentary life that results in weight gain and stress.
Planning and order are the two principles to be productive and efficient under the Home Office model.
This format cannot be the afterthought of management, team leaders, or employees.
On the contrary, the company’s goals must be clear to the employees, as well as the work guidelines. The benefits will always be immediate.
In Kreativa, we help American companies leverage remote talent from geographies with a lower cost of living and U.S. time zones, representing significant savings to our partners. At the same time, offering above-average wages for the region, attracting the best of the best within LATAM and representing a true win-win for our partners and our remote collaborators who are currently spread around 15 different cities and 7 countries with hubs in Mexico City, Leon Guanajuato, Chicago, IL and San Antonio, TX.
Contact us for more information or a free consultation about ways to leverage nearshore remote talent for your organization.