Financial Times – February 14, 2018


It always surprises people that the idea of working from home is better than working from home

For home workers, the attractions are flexibility in organising workload, a chance to focus without distraction, and no commuting slog. Drawbacks include the need for self-discipline, possible loneliness and a sense of being forgotten about.

“It always surprises people that the idea of working from home is better than working from home,” says John Arenas, chief executive of US co-working company Serendipity Labs, which provides shared office space.

Employers are looking at ways to improve remote working. “Best practice is for companies to develop contracts based on an individual employee’s needs and capacities,” says Prof Spreitzer. In addition, some companies create a virtual break room, for example, where remote workers can join in conversations with on-site colleagues.

To help online collaboration, Fiona Cannon, director of diversity and inclusion at Lloyds Banking Group, says the company has introduced a live digital tool called Hive, where employees can connect with colleagues across the business, and runs “Ask me anything” sessions: “It has created real innovation and the ability to get things done quicker.”

Some companies are experimenting with booking slots in shared office spaces. These give remote workers a more work-like environment, but with less of a commute, while still shrinking headquarters office space.

Mr Arenas says about half of Serendipity Labs members work for companies that offer some staff an option to work there part of the time; some companies rent a dedicated space for a team as an alternative to conventional office leasing.

While shared office space might help solve remote workers’ loneliness, it does not fix the problem of an organisation that wants to improve how staff mix with colleagues in person. Some companies are experimenting with their own office environments. Vanessa Sans, founder of Barcelona-based Happy Labs, runs workshops on how best to instil a good working atmosphere. This involves emulating the physical features of co-working spaces — a mix of fixed and flexible desks, private spaces and meeting rooms — and building a community through networking events and workshops.

Source, Emma De Vita, Rethink forced by the loneliness of long-distance work Financial times.