imothy Ferris, author of TheFourHourWorkWeek, 40% of workers describe their office environment as “most like a real-life survivor program.” Similarly, a recent Citrixstudy reported an alarming percentage of employees complaining about difficult colleagues, the know-it-all and the office whiner in particular, and found that a large percentage are longing to negotiate their very own remoteworkagreements (alternatively referred to as “telework”).
What’s the big idea? In fact, it’s more than just escaping the office drudgery. Commuting to work is often cited as one of the biggest factors in employees desire to work from home. A suburban Sydneysider, for example, can expect a commute lasting anywhere from forty-five minutes to four hours, the longestcommutetimesinAustralia. If you consider the average is somewhere in the middle, say two hours, that’s a grand total of twenty hours per week. Add to that the cost of parking (easily $20/day), car insurance, and the rising cost of petrol, and you will probably find that given the extraordinary cost in time and money, you’re better off working as a barista at your local Starbucks. And let’s not even get started of the high stress of sitting in traffic on the M5.
The commute aside, many employees claim they are more productive outside the office. Notwithstanding the time expense of drawn out lunches in the city and long conversations at the watercooler, remote working agreements can take much of the stress off of an employee’s shoulders. Without the obligation to attend meetings that go on forever and get nowhere, they’re free to focus on tasks that need to get done. With no one supervising time spent at the “office,” these employees naturally move to a production based rather than an hours-based remuneration system.
For obvious reasons, employers are often reluctant to agree to such arrangements. Not surprising, since the Citrix study also showed employees working from home often admit to working in their pajamas on the couch, drinking and watching television on the job – not exactly the stuff of great entrepreneurial achievements. But what the study does not consider is the plethora of excuses office workers employ to finagle more time out of the office: sneaking off to the gym, for a latte, a haircut, etc. Though they are physically presenting themselves at the office, it does not follow that they are any more or less productive than an employee working from his pajama paradise over a coffee and an episode of Jersey Shore. Avoiding work is not specific to any geographical location.
How then does one go about convincing an employer that a remote working arrangement may be beneficial? Employers will be reluctant. They cannot supervise. Many office-escapees have worked up to full-time sofa-life by negotiating one day per week out of the office and continuing to appear live and in person four days a week. The employee must demonstrate productivity from home, prove his ability to network remotely, and build credibility outside the office. A productivity system can be much more beneficial to an employer since there is the potential to get considerably more bang for the buck. It’s the employee’s responsibility to demonstrate this to her employer.
At the end of the day, you can’t argue with a job well done, whether it is performed at the office in a suit and tie or in on the living room sofa in a pair of boxer shorts. Remote work agreements are on definitely on the rise. As cities continue to grow, so will the traffic and so will the commute times. Freelancers are accustomed to working from home for a variety of employers they may or may not have met in person. They’ve been doing it for decades, even before we had the tools we have today. New technologies are making it easier and easier to work remotely while staying connected to happenings in office. It’s not right for everyone, but it’s important for both employer and employee to stay open to such arrangements. It’s cost-effective, potentially more efficient and even has the added bonus of reducing carbon emissions.
In short, it’s carbon tax friendly. What could be less controversial?
Amy Knapp is a business blogger based in Sydney, commenting on business and HR issues for Insidetrak. Educated in Law and the Fine Arts, her work champions the marriage of the creative and the corporate. Follow her on Twitter @JoyofWords.
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