CEO Opinion:  Why I Support (Only Some) Work From Home Arrangements

In a recent article on SMH, Bellinda Konto­minas spoke about how more employees wish to work from home, while employers are fearful about the fact that they may do less work. Of course, there is merit to her state­ment that some employers are cautious, but the latest figures from Global Work­place Analy­tics are unde­niable: More people are tele­com­mu­ting than ever, with an increase of more than 62% in govern­ment employees working from home, and an increase of 70% in for-profit employees. The number of state govern­ment employees working from home increased by over 122%.

Emily Tappel from Mugsy PR says that employees work better from their own spaces, and as an employer, you will not know unless you try.

Granted, some employers out there have legi­ti­mate concerns about allo­wing employees to tele­com­mute. However, as the co-Founder of Mikogo, I am a big propo­nent for allo­wing my employees to work from wherever they are comfor­table (and produc­tive, of course) and when it makes sense for the busi­ness. Ulti­m­ately, provi­ding your employees with more freedom, could increase their job satis­fac­tion and produc­ti­vity. Of course, not all employees are able to self-moti­vate, which is why it is crucial to employ the right people in your team while putting struc­tures in place to ensure that they bring the expected value to the table.

Jay Stein­feld covers some fanta­stic ways in which you can set boun­da­ries while at the same time main­tai­ning a culture of excel­lence in his article on

When an employee asks me whether he or she may work from home, I follow this process:

1. Decide whether working from home is a viable option

I perso­nally think a team works best when they can stick their heads toge­ther, i.e. they are all in the same room or office and can get work done toge­ther. Unfort­u­na­tely, that’s not always possible, because:

  • valuable team members move to other cities, or
  • some­times you want to hire a great talent, but they’re not ready to move close to your office, or
  • some­times too much time is wasted in long commutes.

In such cases, working from home is a good option (not the best, as I outlined in my first point, but the second best).

2. Set clear expectations and boundaries

Making it work isn’t as easy as it looks; it’s easy to get distracted when working from home, and being alone at home. Being close to the sofa, bed and TV can easily lead to poor produc­ti­vity; it’s defi­ni­tely not for ever­y­body, but some people are as or even more effi­cient when they work from home. Setting clear expec­ta­tions, dead­lines and work hours, if required, should be done before you agree to allow people to work from home.

The setup should also be clear to ever­y­body. Some team members might always work from home (e.g. those working in a diffe­rent country); some team members might be away most of the time, but in the office 1 or 2 days per week and some team members might be in the office most of the time, but still work from home for a day per week.

There should be trans­pa­rency with regards to who is working from where and when they will be at the office. If you allow team members to decide in the morning whether they will go to the office or not, it will create chaos. There will be miscom­mu­ni­ca­tion, and time will be wasted in terms of trying to colla­bo­rate with others who may or may not be in the office.

3. Create a reporting system for them to adhere to

Create a set of clear objec­tives which employees should meet, whether they work in the office or at home. If they work from home and don’t meet the objec­tives, the privi­lege of working from home should be revoked until the outcomes are met. However, as an employer, you can support your time in reaching the high perfor­mance levels you expect by provi­ding a suitable infra­struc­ture for commu­ni­ca­tions, and whatever else they need to succeed.

4. Check in regularly and assess the process

Commu­ni­ca­tion is important because remote workers miss all the chit chat at the coffee machine, ther­e­fore, regular online meetings are important. Online meetings are handy, as you can check in with your remote workers, keeping them informed and on their toes. That way, you can spot factors for concerns and address them early on to prevent them from beco­ming issues.

Here at Mikogo, we have several remote workers, some in diffe­rent count­ries around the world. As a general rule, I feel that:

  • Team members who live close to the office, should work in the office because that’s always best;
  • Team members who need to commute for more than 2 hours every day, should consider a part-time home office arran­ge­ment, such as 2–3 days per week from home, 2–3 days in the office;
  • Team members in diffe­rent count­ries should work from home or (even better) work from a co-working space nearby, for a profes­sional envi­ron­ment and fewer distractions

Ulti­m­ately, I agree with what Yung Trang, the Presi­dent of Tech­Bar­gains had to say on the topic: “First, working from home is a privi­lege, not a right,” he says. “It can be revoked if abused. Second, when you are working from home you must be available — and produc­tive, via email, chat and phone — as if you were here in the office. Third, if working from home impacts produc­ti­vity and adds to the work of others, then you must come into the office.”

Discus­sion: What are your feelings regar­ding tele­com­mu­ting and remote working arran­ge­ments? Do some of your team members work from home? I’d love to hear about your experiences.

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