The uncomfortable truth about working from home

If you haven’t seen this hilarious video of Professor Robert E Kelly trying to conduct a BBC interview from home, you should. You can watch it here.

For many employers and managers, allowing team members to work from home is unthinkable. Maybe they imagine that productivity will suffer due to endless domestic distractions, tea-making sessions, and a procession of toddlers, kittens and puppies wandering around.

In our team, everyone works from home. It has significant business benefits, including attracting and retaining talented individuals. Standard office hours are not always actually the best times to work in the day – early mornings or late in the evenings can often be great times to work depending on the project at hand. Of course we do miss out on a number of the benefits of an office environment, including social interactions and the ability to have short meetings in person to discuss issues or documents or whatever. For me personally, the advantages of remote working are avoiding the time suck of commuting, much more flexible hours, and the ability to work from any location.

My theory is that productivity is mainly about focus and minimising distractions. In today’s world, the uncomfortable truth is that we proudly carry our distractions around with us, in the form of smartphones. We allow ourselves to be derailed from projects which we know will make a difference, by responding to every call, text and email which happens to arrive. Not to mention succumbing to ‘busy work’ like clearing our email inbox or the temptation of checking our favourite websites or social media.

All this has very little to do with where you happen to be. My guess is that if someone is productive and effective in an office environment, they will probably also be productive and effective anywhere else.

N.B. We’ve just published a New Briefing Note for Finance, Tax and Transfer Pricing Professionals, on How to Put in Place Effective Intercompany Agreements. You can download your free copy here.