Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Anywhere Working Week

This week is Anywhere Working Week (see http://www.anywhereworking.org/2012/anywhere-working-week-27th-february/ }. It’s being promoted by the Department for Transport, supported by a variety of sponsors who are interested in spreading the word about mobile working.

One of they key triggers behind this initiative is the Olympic Games. The government is trying to persuade employers to allow people to work from home, or a remote location, during the peak fortnight of the games. The aim is to reduce commuter traffic by 30% and avoid complete gridlock in London.

Hopefully this will push reluctant employers into considering remote working as an option for their workforce and they will find that it isn’t as disruptive as they feared. Then they might continue to allow people to work from home after the Olympic rush is over.

However, there is a good chance that employers will see this as a bad time to let people work from home. Whist daytime TV is not normally a great incentive to stay at home and avoid work, during the Olympics there will be continuous coverage of the events and the temptation will be greater. So, a manager who already has difficulty trusting people to work at home is hardly likely to have a change of heart during the Games.

We need more persuasive evidence that remote and flexible working is good for business. There are some good examples of organizations, such as BT, which have saved millions in real estate costs and improved productivity through flexible working. But these are still seen as isolated cases. Maybe the government could sponsor some wider research into the relationship between remote working and increased output, to convince managers of the benefits. It might have help to improve commuting conditions in London forever, not just for the Olympics.