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Should We All Be Forced to Work From Home?

June 17, 2013 | Telepresence Options

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Story and Images by Michael Grant / Huffington Post

Do you think you should be forced to work from home at least one, two or three days a week?

If we were all forced to work from home, we would collectively benefit in ways that are often overlooked. I propose a notion to flip the idea of work on its head - because work is a thing you do and not a place you go.

If it were the norm that your company forced you to work from home a few days per week, then it could be more profitable, you'll be happier, and you'll have a few more hours in the day to spend with the ones you love (or in peace and quiet if you'd prefer). I'm not saying working from home all the time is right for everyone, for some professions it's not even an option. But if Britain were forced to operate within a flexible work environment, we might just help solve a few more pressing issues. [1]

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I don't think we're far away from a time when the government will start actively encouraging businesses to enforce flexible working. This is especially true when you consider that the Ministry of Transport eats up �13billion pounds each year. And a substantial reduction in commuters would relieve some of the pressure on an already overcrowded system. Traffic congestion alone costs the UK economy �8billion per year - a figure that's set to double by 2025 if nothing changes. [2]

Given that a regular percentage of people opt to not go into the office each day; your rush hour drive could no longer be plagued by the uncertainty of traffic, relieving the accompanying stress. For us Londoners - imagine how much more pleasant the underground would be with fewer people and without the awkward moment when you give up your seat to someone you mistakenly identify as pregnant. Also, let's not forget the savings you'd make by not driving or paying for public transport, and more importantly the extra hour in bed when it's your turn.

A happy worker is a better worker

The work-life balance argument is bandied around a fair bit. But you can't put a price on certain things in your life. Speaking from my own experiences, I'm often around when my kids get home from school, working for a video conferencing provider means that flexible working is woven throughout our culture, and I can honestly say I'm genuinely happier for it. What would you do with the extra hours in your day that you're not commuting? One study indicates that workers actually recycle 60% of their saved commute time back into work. It's going to be difficult for companies to disregard this for much longer.

On the face of it, it seems like a great proposition. Work from home a few days a week and you'll be happier, richer and less time-poor. But does that mean that productivity will suffer? For those companies in which home working is properly implemented, the answer is a resounding no. In fact, the opposite is often true - BT found that its own home-based call centre agents answer 20% more calls than their office counterparts, with up to a 31% increase in effectiveness. [3] That's an impressive figure that you can't ignore.

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