Home working currently seems to be a very good solution to numerous daily problems. When we work at home we avoid the stress of traffic jams, spats with colleagues or school leaving time; in short our quality of life increases considerably. In a context where energy prices are rising, this also enables us to limit travel and allows businesses to make significant savings on offices (rental, heating). And yet few employees work from home on a regular base. Why has there been such a low take-up? An article published in ParisTech Review offers some answers, (“A Slow Motion Revolution: Why Aren’t We All Telecommuting?”).
According to the author, this revolutionary idea of distance working was first created by Jack Nilles. At the start of the 1970s, this “former telecommunications engineer at NASA”, thought that “telecommuting” would have so many advantages that it would probably become the norm in the future. Not without humour, the author then quotes Jon Andrews, consultant at PricewaterhouseCooper, saying that it was “a bit like when you were a child and thought we’d all go to work with flying cars”.
Utopia? According to Arthur Devriendt, the sticking points are mostly social. From a business point of view, the working organisation is turned upside down. The teams are spread out and are much more difficult to manage. The group dynamics, created by proximity and sharing offices, can no longer be formed. From the employees’ point of view, distance working is not always a sinecure. In addition to a significant loss of sociability, some employees fear being left behind when it comes to promotion or even encouraging their company to outsource because they are not there. In fact, while institutionalised home working isn’t “catching on”, the distance-working phenomenon is becoming more and more popular, encouraged by service outsourcing or the increase in managers’ mobility.
The article raises an interesting point: a growing separation is being created between work and the workplace. It is possible to work anywhere, all the time, thanks to new information and telecommunication technologies. From now on, we must rebuild the balance between professional and personal life or we risk losing all the benefits of home working.
More info on telecommuting on the website of ZeVillage.