In today’s world, paradoxically, it is the boldest action that is often the safest. Remaining where you are in a world that is changing so rapidly is, in fact, the most dangerous of all places to be in. – Hakeem Belo-Osegie
Working from home or anywhere else without necessarily having to go to the office daily is what we refer to as ‘Agile working’. It is quite new and not very familiar with most companies. The British Computer Society also defines the practice as “a way of working in which an organisation empowers its people to work where, when and how they choose – with maximum flexibility and minimum constraints – to optimise their performance and to do their best work”.
Working from home allows you flexibility in your work procedures, time and choice of work environment, whiles ensuring that you are still a part of a team and producing results. Ultimately, agile working encourages maximum flexibility with minimum constraints.
For agile working to be a success, a business should make it a part of the culture. By providing your employees with a workplace design that works for them, you can begin to create a productive, creative and motivational environment where gains will be made on individual and organisational levels. Moreover, working style is invariably possible when facilitated by relevant technology. Hardware and software need to be implemented to ensure that employees have the tools they need to perform their tasks outside of the office or away from the desk. In Ghana, getting a laptop with regular internet connectivity for a starter might do the trick.
The world of work is changing rapidly and your organization might need to put in place certain new practices which will accrue best results in the long term. Working from home undoubtedly, will be a big adjustment to both you and your employer. Very importantly, having the right set of attitude and technology for it as I mentioned earlier will make it very rewarding.
Let’s have a discussion at some benefits that working remotely brings to you as an employee.
Less stress and travel cost
Flexible working can reduce fatigue and stress factors which may help employees to maintain focus and perform better .
With fuel prices fluctuating almost every now and then, you get to save on travel and commuting expenses. Whether you are using a commercial vehicle or driving a private car, you are more likely to save more money because you choose a place and time to work based on your convenience.
Consider a busy place like Accra or Kumasi where you sometimes have to be in traffic for several hours to get to the office. This routine could become stressful and frustrating to the point of making you unproductive at work.
Now, think about not having to go to your workplace every day. Sounds like a great relief, right? It is actually a relish to know that you could achieve a great amount of work while working remotely from a traditional office setting. As you do this, you reduce the amount of time spent travelling, by not having to always return to your desk before you can work productively. You can work from home and achieve the same or better results.
BT Group PLC (also known as BT and formerly British Telecom), is a British multinational telecommunications holding company. With its headquarters in London, UK, BT has operations in around 180 countries and is the largest provider of fixed- line, broadband and mobile services in the UK, and also provides subscription TV and IT services. In their rollout of flexible working practices, under the Workstyle 2000 programme, BT found that absenteeism reduced by 63% when employees worked flexibly. They also found that flexible employees were on average 20% more productive than their office-based counterparts, where productivity was measured using internal business metrics such as absenteeism, sick leave and maternity return rates.
The statistics is even mind blowing. BT reported that staff travelled 178 miles per week less, totalling 150,000,000 miles per annum. Thus, they avoided the purchase of approximately 12 million litres of fuel per year, resulting in 54,000 tonnes less CO2 being generated in the UK. Teleconferencing has eliminated the annual need for over 300,000 face-to-face meetings, leading to savings of over £38.6 million a year. This has also removed the need for over 1.5 million return journeys saving BT staff the equivalent of 1,800 years commuting – with further environmental benefits. Property costs also reduced by 30% (£104m per annum.) .1.
Believe it or not, you would have more control over your work as a tele-worker. Even though your employer will communicate clearly to you the target and what needs to be achieved by the organization, it is mostly up to you to decide which procedure or style to use to reach those results.
This means that you get the chance to be creative and innovative while producing maximum results. Agility also helps you to manage your time well. It would teach you to plan your day and ensure that you follow your schedule to meet timelines. By looking at work as an activity, rather than a place, agile working focuses on eliminating any barriers that stand in the way of achieving objectives.
Everyone works better with fewer distractions. You and I are no different. If you had the freedom to choose where you want to work, either from home or anywhere at all, you are very likely to choose an environment that gives you more focus. Concentration and creativity become better in a friendly and relaxed environment and that would be seen in your work.
Take a look at this scenario, you are given an employer who is confined to a desk everyday and given the same task to you who works remotely. You would probably be more creative and able to come up with innovative ideas because you have less distraction and fewer barriers. By doing this, you have been given the freedom to work in the best location, utilizing your time and resources most efficiently.
Flexible working arrangements can boost employee morale and motivation through higher job satisfaction as it creates an improved sense of work life balance. Happier employees can mean improved retention levels, productivity, quality of work and what have you?
In the Research Report on Agile Working, Personality & Performance commissioned by enei, (The Employers Network for Equality & Inclusion, UK’s leading employer network covering all aspects of equality and inclusion in the workplace), it was discovered that 86% of employees and 61% or employers felt that Agile Working would increase productivity.2. This means that more and more employees are advocating, have agile working conditions.
In Ghana for instance, one will not be too surprised if majority of workers advocate for agile working if the options are presented for employees who would want to work from home or other spaces aside the traditional office space. With the recent infiltration of online job offers on the Ghanaian job market, that era is not far ahead.
“We need to create an environment that would drive creativity. Do not be afraid to test new things. We must be creative, ensuring we are a step ahead of competition.” – Kofo Akinkugbe
For many people, achieving balance between your work and personal life is far from easy. Splitting your time and energy between the two can be a daily challenge.
With the number of hours you spend at work, you have little or no time for other activities. Here in Ghana, for instance, modern or urban working parents now have little or no time with their kids because by the time you get home from work, your kids are asleep, and the only time you get to see them is when they wake them up at dawn to get ready for school. Parents and kids have to set off very early, and one gets to see families eating in their cars on their way to work and school. You retire to the house too exhausted to socialize or to spend ample time with family and friends.
Fortunately, working remotely gives you the unique opportunity to balance your professional and family life. Once you are able to do that, you would realize that you become extra productive at work and this would bring you a lot of satisfaction as an employee; just knowing that you are able to contribute efficiently to the goals of your company. More importantly for some parents, you are also able to have meaningful time with your family and loved ones, so that no aspect of your life is struggling for your attention.
Imagine your employer understands that coming to the office in Tema all the way from Lapaz is exhausting and is open to the thought of you working from home or only coming to the office when it is necessary. Sounds exciting right? Where this becomes practical you will be able to structure your time in such a way that there is family engagement and commitment for other social activities. Consequently, you will even come to appreciate your employer more for allowing you to work remotely.
The bottom line for most companies is to see its employees succeed at what they do, very importantly through an effective and efficient way. It won’t be such a bad idea after all, to be working remotely.
Dorcas Muthoni, founder of Openworld Limited, a market leading computer software company in Kenya, says that her greatest wish is to see a global community where our society is embracing internet technology to positively change lives and improve the efficiency of work done in our offices.