Home Office: Right or Privilege?

Home Office: Right or Privilege?

The topic of home office has become quite controversial recently. During COVID, home office literally saved our lives and jobs. It started to be completely common, then Elon Musk came and equated working remotely with slacking. The Netherlands stole the show stole the show as they made home office a legal right.

Whether you're an employer or employee, you may have not decided your final standpoint about home office as every HR professionals, influencing leaders, organizational psychologists say different things about it. As a Golden Mean most of the people vote in favor of hybrid working but everyone's scale tips one way or another.

So what next? What should you provide as an employer?

We're a recruitment agency. Our job is to talk to people and ask them about their job preferences. Since COVID hit, we've chatted with thousands of people and what we can tell is that people want home office. Period.

However home office is not a legal right yet in Hungary or anywhere else in Central Eastern Europe, but even new entrants without any experience ask for it, although a few years ago it was unimaginable.

If your company cannot provide even a couple of days of home offices per week, you're in trouble, because your candidates and employees know the market and are aware that they can get an offer at least with a hybrid working system. Your brand means nothing if your organization is not up to date. Colleagues, managers, salary, office environment can influence the willingness of going to the office, but if the chance of home-office is up to 0, you scored an own goal.

People are not fond of 100% onsite jobs. 

The pandemic has shown us not only we're able to work from home, but we're also much more efficient. We don't have to commute, there are less distractions, we can focus better and make our high-kicking coffee anytime.

Check the statistics. The proportion of people working from home in the EU has doubled compared to the previous decade. The highest rate is in Finland, where 37% of the people are working from home. Although home office was regulated, rates haven't changed so much.

It's fair if we share the cons as well.

They may affect mental health first than performance, then vice versa. Many say that since working remotely, they have found it difficult to find a work-life balance. 

We're sure that this scenario is familiar to you: it's already 5 P.M. but you have something to finish so you'll do it as you don't have to rush home. You continue to work and the next moment it's 8 P.M. You do it the next day, then 3 times a week, then every day because you enjoy your efficiency. Not to mention highly performance based jobs like sales where where it can be even more tempting to work from home. 3 months have passed and you feel a bit less energetic. After 6 months it's harder to get out of bed and sit in front of your computer. It's been 9 months and you feel paralyzed and mentally unable to work.

From the fairy tale of an overperfomer you hopped on a roller-coaster and ended up burnt-out.

Also people who have a greater need for social interaction tend to feel isolated in home office.

We didn't mean to discourage you from home office, but you certainly have to be prudent before choosing a strategy.

As an employer, these are your tasks for implementing home office: 

  • Assess to what extent your employees would prefer home office:
    This is step zero. Obviously you don't have make all of their whishes true, especially if it's about to hamper your business. Assumptions about how your employees cheat while remotely working doesn't count here. But if a freight forwarder wants 4 days home office per week and you say yes to it, you'd definitely ruin your business.
  • Provide a decent infrastructure for working remotely:
    An ergonomic chair can be a game-changer, but things like a headset also matter.
  • Give opportunities for socialization:
    If there's a hybrid work, more or less it's already solved, but if it's the case of full-remote working, one of your main goals should be to build bonds between colleagues, because people that bond together, stay together. We don't give tips on this now, but here's a power hint: 2 hours of pointless meetings do not strengthen the collegial relationship.
  • Create a healthy environment where constant overwork is not promoted and people can ask for help if they don't feel mentally well:
    As we mentioned before, it's quite easy to fall into the trap of overworking. If you realize that some of your colleagues work constantly overtime, do not celebrate that you went cheap because you have 2 employees in 1. If they burn out, it's your responsibility in the end. Make them aware that it's not necessary to work so much, and emphasize the importance of free time. Regarding mental issues, the solution is not to ask everyone in one-to-ones whether they're depressed or not, but treat them equally and humanely. If their behavior has changed prominently, you can still intervene and ask if you can help or they'd like to share their feelings.

What is the final conclusion or advice from a recruitment agency?

Our message is that home-office should be a common right, legal or not. No home-office is not a proper regulation, we're sorry to tell you. If your employees pretend to work from home, it's not the remote work culture's responsibility but your employees', and yours too, as you let them do it.

Create a system aligning the needs of your company and your employees and you're already competitive.

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