Is working from home the future? Here are the arguments for and against

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Remote and flexible working is becoming increasingly popular. New figures suggest that 58 per cent of Brits work from home during the week.

Here, we discuss the pros and cons of shunning the office environment.

FOR

David Spencer, Professor of Economics, University of Leeds, says: “Evidence shows that working from home can boost productivity by giving workers more control over how they use their time and the flexibility to carry out tasks without distraction.

“It can also cut firms’ overhead costs by reducing the number of desks needed, and thus the overall amount of office space required and utility costs.

“But it should be part of a broader policy to support greater flexibility in the workplace.

“Of course, home working is not appropriate in sectors like manufacturing and construction, but it can work successfully in the services sector.

“If employers grant workers the option to work from home then it can build trust and enhances motivation and represents an extension of worker autonomy, making it a good thing.

“It signals that employers are willing to trust their workers and give them independence over their time and work.

“However, working from home blurs the divide between professional and personal life.

“It can also mean employees working more for the same pay and losing time with family and friends, as well as embedding an ‘always on’ culture.

“In addition, there are benefits to social interaction and face-to-face collaboration that may be lost through home working.”

AGAINST

Vicki Freestone, of Leeds Business Improvement District, believes that human contact is vital when in work mode.

“Arguably there are a lot of benefits to working from home (I myself do when I require quiet uninterrupted work time),” she says.

“However, human contact and actual interaction are vitally important to doing business in Leeds.

“When you attend an event, there’s the possibility of opening yourself up to new ideas and experiences, expanding your network which is vital to career progression and may take you in a direction you can’t foresee from a desk at home.

“Indeed, two of our current projects came out of face-to-face networking with Leeds businesses - Sweatworking, a high intensity approach to networking, or the disruptive Bettakultcha format which engenders debate and allows attendees to approach speakers following their “TED talk” style presentations to continue discussion.”

She says that face-to-face interaction is crucial especially when it comes to forming business relations and making contacts.

She added: “It’s about having and making the most of individual and business opportunities for meaningful collaboration and innovation to be at the forefront of thought leadership in the city.”