Working From Home Sucks

On the face of it, working from home seems like a great idea. No need to face traffic on the morning commute, no need to line up for an over-priced baguette at lunch and no boss looking over your shoulder as you try and clear your to do list during the afternoon. Technology and changing corporate perceptions have led to more people working from home and it looks like it’s a trend which is here to stay. However, as many home office warriors have discovered, working from your dining table may not be all it cracked up to be and isn’t the answer to all workplace issues that some would have you believe it is.

Your Kids Don’t Understand You’re Working

Even if you speak to your family and lay down the best plan for how you are going to work from home it can still be difficult to get the clear head space you need to be truly productive. As much as your family say they will respect the fact you need to work, they will always find it difficult to give you the actual space you need because they can physically see you all the time. The fact you are physically present, even if your mind is on the job, gives people the impression that you’re available to walk the dog, build a LEGO castle or whatever other job may spring to mind.

Distractions Everywhere You Turn

You won’t notice them when you are at home on weekends, but there are distractions at every turn when you are trying to get work done. That load of washing that needs to be hung out, the midday news on TV, checking the mail as soon as the  postman has been – they’re things which somehow become urgent when working from home. One of the underrated roles of an effective workspace is to put you in an environment which is conducive to actually getting things done – distraction free.

You Lack Real Interactions

Thanks to technology, working from home is no longer the sentence to solitary confinement it once was. Between talking on the phone, teleconferencing and interacting on social media you are able to keep in touch with your colleagues whenever you need to from home. However, even with all of this technology we all still need to have ‘real’ face to face interactions from time to time. Unless you fancy inviting co-workers over to share the couch, this is something working from home just can’t provide.

You Can’t Collaborate With Your Kids

As the old saying goes, “two heads are better than one” and this is especially true when considering tough business issues. Unfortunately your 4 year old (if they’re anything like mine) is unlikely to come up with a new marketing idea or ways to improve your cashflow, so you need a resource which has a little more knowledge and experience. One of the perks of having a work environment where you have co-workers or other people around is that you always have a human knowledge bank at your disposal to assist when issues get a bit tricky. The human resource built into your work-space can also work for business development, as you never know who you might meet while making a coffee and what they might need that you can provide.

Do You Want To Meet At Your Kitchen Table?

 As I am sure you appreciate, perception is everything and a big part of setting the right image for your business is how you meet with people. Even though there are a multitude of different digital technologies which provide remote meeting options, face to face meetings are still a critical part of any business. You can’t exactly bring a new client to your kitchen table to sign a contract or hold a sales presentation in the rumpus room while the kids are at school – you need to be able to set the right image for your business and you need to have somewhere professional to meet people.

Don’t get me wrong, there are real benefits to working from home which can certainly offset some of the issues outlined above.

The good news is that there are also a range of solutions which can support home workers and assist to make it a viable way to work. From Virtual Offices to FlexiWork, Wilkin Group works with a number of clients who spend the majority of their time working ‘out of the office’ to fill the gaps and make working from home a joy rather than a chore. Check out the Wilkin Group at www.wilkingroup.com.au, or ring them on (08) 7071 7071

How Your Office Helps You Work Together?

For a few years now, collaboration has been one of the most used buzz words in organisations around the world. Collaboration means different things to different organisations, however most businesses have one thing in common – they would like to collaborate more. A recent Deloitte study identified that approximately 30% of respondents said that they would like more collaboration in their organisation. Although everyone is chasing more of it, the collaboration which is already taking place is having a huge impact on the Australian economy adding more than $46bn of value each year.

An organisation’s workspace design can dictate how and how much its employees are able to collaborate. A well-designed workspace can help facilitate collaboration through lowering the barriers to employee interactions and providing readily available spaces which support collaboration.

So how do different elements of a workspace assist in fostering collaboration?

Break-out Space/Kitchen

Break-out spaces (space where people can get away from their workstation and either enjoy some downtime or work more casually) are part of many workspaces these days. These spaces are often a hot bed of collaboration as the change in environment when people step away from their workstation allows them to think differently and act accordingly. The conversations which are generally held in break-out spaces (also known as “water-cooler” conversations) are ad-hoc and unplanned, but they can certainly address work issues and as a result often alleviate the need for meetings.

Meeting Rooms

It should seem pretty obvious that meeting rooms play a major part in how an organisation collaborates as they are a key place where people come together. In addition to just providing a location for people to meet, when people step into a meeting room their mentality shifts from one of just getting things done at their workstation to being ready to share and collaborate. However, in order to maximise collaboration in the 21st century meetings rooms must be equipped with the right technology and tools such as WiFi, smart whiteboard, video-conferencing facilities etc.

Open Plan Offices

Most organisations have at least some of their office space designed in an open plan configuration and there are pros and cons to this use of space. One of the biggest benefits offered by open plan offices is the fact they support collaboration primarily by lowering the physical and perceived barriers to the activities which foster collaboration, most notably face to face communication. Team members have instant access to the rest of their team which allows them to collaborate on their terms without having to plan how it will take place. With all staff being able to collaborate as they please, a collaborative culture can quickly be generated with less structure than may otherwise be required.

Small Offices

On the face of it small or private offices may not seem to actively support collaboration, however these offices certainly have a part to play in developing a collaborative culture. In cases where a small team is able to share a private office, away from other staff, it allows this team to establish a sub-culture where they can collaborate on their own terms and not be bound by some of the rules of the wider team. Even in instances where staff work from private offices by themselves and are ‘cutoff’ from the team, a small office can actually encourage collaboration as the people who work from them are likely to be more engaged with the team when they step into meetings or other settings where the ability to collaborate is required, as they know they have a haven to return to when ‘the work needs to be done’.

Hallways, Reception, Foyer etc

Spaces such as hallways, reception and foyers are often underrated in office space design, however they can also support collaboration as they are places where people meet in passing and can have casual conversations relating to projects and other tasks they may be working together on.

Workspace design can have an effect on the way an organisation collaborates and the ideal design will differ greatly from business to business. However one takeaway from the Deloitte survey is the fact that collaboration is one of the most important elements of the way a successful organisation operates. When employees collaborate:

– They work 15% faster, on average;

– 73% do better work;

– 60% are more innovative;

– 56% are more satisfied.

 

Source: Deloitte Access Economics, The Collaborative Economy, Summary Findings 2014

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