What is Het Nieuwe Werken?

Get Your Boss to Let Your Work from Home

Finally, a study has emerged that’s scientifically proven what I’ve been touting for years. Working from home is more efficient than pulling an eight-hour shift at the office.

If given the chance most employees would prefer to work from home. Who wouldn’t? Staying in your pajamas till three o’clock, rolling out of bed just ten minutes before your shift starts, avoiding sitting in traffic twice a day, and not having your bitchy boss stand over your shoulder while you work is too appealing to pass up.

Despite the allure and wide spread desire to have more flexibility in where one works, corporate America has been slow to allow its employees to work from home more often. A quick Google image search of working from home brings up images of Homer Simpson watching TV in a mu-mu and moms and dads juggling children on their lap while they struggle to type on a laptop.

It’s what CEO’s and managers believe will happen if they let their underlings work from home more often. They expect you’ll slack off on the job by watching hours of TV a day, take naps during office hours, and run errands instead of work.  You’d be hard pressed to find a boss who believes that allowing their employees to work from home more often will make them a better employee.

But Mr. High and Mighty Boss Man might want to rethink his stance on this subject. New science is emerging that touts the benefits that working from home provides not only to the employee but to the business as well.

A Stanford University study was performed that studied productivity levels and sales generated of work from home employees at a Shanghai based online travel agency. The company had more than a thousand workers who spent on average 80 minutes and 10 percent of their salaries commuting to the office. The office space was described as a hanger sized call center filled to the brim with rows upon endless rows of identical gray cubicles and bad florescent lighting. Not exactly anybody’s idea of a dream job or office.

Two-hundred-fifty-five employees were picked to participate in the study. The only requirements being that they had a dedicated room at home (a non-communal room) in which to work from and had worked for the company for at least six months. The study allowed employees to work from home for four of their five weekly shifts over an eight months span. Those employees who were not picked for the study served as the control group. 

It took just a few short weeks before researchers were able to see a difference between the work from home participants and the control group. The group that worked from home was more productive, answering 15 percent more calls than the control group who worked at the office and spent 11 percent more time answering phone calls.

They were also found to be less likely to log into work late, take fewer breaks, and call in sick less. The work from home employees rated themselves as having a more positive attitude towards their job, less exhaustion, and were nearly 50 percent less likely than the control group to say they were planning to quit at the end of the eight months. The results were so good that at the conclusion of the study the company offered to let nearly all one thousand workers work from home.

The idea that more flexibility in where you work has caught on in Europe too. In places like the Netherlands the idea is called “Het Nieuwe Werken” which translates to New World of Work.

The idea behind this concept is to allow workers more flexibility in where they work, whether from home or the office, giving them more independence and encouraging them to work in a team setting while at the office.  Big corporations like Microsoft are trying out the concept. The concept is still relatively new but so far employees relate back feeling more satisfied with their jobs, and productivity across the board has gone up on average eight percent.

The companies themselves are finding they benefit too; they are able to attract a higher quality of employee, they save money on office space, building maintenance and their utility bills have gone down (less employees at the office means less computers plugged in).

I’m not surprised by the findings in these two studies. I have worked both in an office setting and at home (full time for the last five years). While I miss the water cooler discussions of what happened last night on our favorite TV shows, I can’t say I miss being chained to my desk from 9 to 5 every day. 

The flexibility working from home provides me with the same benefits found in the study; I’m generally happier about work and I get more done. I just do it on my time, sometimes that means from 10 pm to 1 am sometimes that means from 10 am to 1 pm.

The changing economy has corporations and CEO’s scrounging for new ways to save the company money while squeezing every ounce of productivity and usefulness out of its employees. Maybe Mr. CEO and Fortune 500 should take a look at this research. They could accomplish both goals while increasing employee satisfaction and lowering their turn over rates.

I’m interested to hear from you your thoughts on working from home (good or bad) and if your company allows you to do so. Has it worked out for you? Your company? Write me a brief note in the comments section.

Keeping Money in Your Pocket,

Nancy Patterson

 
 
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