As technology continues to redefine the structure of businesses, the traditional office space has given way to the phenomena of working from home.
Many organizations are currently exploring the phenomena, in which workers are allowed to perform their tasks from home, for maximum benefits.
Although the home working culture is rife in many countries especially in Europe and in the USA, a number of African countries are adopting the practice with an increasing number of firms in Ghana deriving huge benefits.
A survey conducted by ADR Daily discovered that the practice is fast growing among firms in Accra and Tema.
“Allowing some of my workers to work from home has been beneficial,” says Bernard Twum, Chief Executive of a telecommunication firm in Accra.
According to him, he often allows non-technical staff to do paper work on projects at home, adding that it gives them the peace of mind to work.
Similarly, Roland Bentil, who runs a marketing consultancy firm, says there is a convention in his organization that requires staff tasked to work on proposals and reports to work from home.
That, he said, allows them the freedom and time to work without distractions associated with the office environment.
Apart from the quality performance of workers who work from home, the practice helps firms to save cost in transportation of workers, and cost of office utility such as electricity, water and internet.
For Mrs. Lauretta Ahovi, Managing Director of an agro-chemical firm, all her marketing staffs are allowed to work from home.
“They undertake client contact and marketing activities from home. They file their daily reports by mail, and we meet at the office on Fridays to review operations of the week and plan for the next week,” she said.
“There is no point coming to the office if you can do what you have to do from home,” she stressed.
The practice comes along with responsibilities on the employer to provide the necessary technological tools such as mobile phones, laptop computers and internet data to enable workers to effectively communicate with the office.
But for Leslie Thompson who runs an employment agency, his workers have been well equipped with the requisite modern tools to enable them operate outside the office.
“They all have these tools whether you work in the office or not. The aim is to ensure that they can work from anywhere they want,” he said.
With an increasing number of employees working at home or using home as a working base for at least part of the week, it is evident that a number of benefits accrue for business.
The benefits, according to experts, include improved employee retention since home working can help retain working parents with childcare responsibilities; access to a wider pool of applicants, for example, disabled people who may prefer to work from home; possible productivity gains due to fewer interruptions and less commuting time; increase staff motivation resulting from reduced stress and sickness levels; financial benefits from savings on office space, utilities and convenience in locating sales staff near clients rather than in office premises.
Although the benefits remain immense, the practice comes along with challenges which have to be prepared to be addressed by employers.
There could be challenges managing home workers, which includes; the difficulty of monitoring performance, cost of working from home – initial costs of telecommunication, training and providing suitable equipment, adaptations to meet health and safety standards and the needs of disabled employees, information security risk, decreased staff morale since a poorly managed home-working practice could affect team spirit when employees are working at different locations.
Not all jobs are suitable for home work, but it behooves on managers to identify which tasks can best be performed from outside the office.
Whatever the situation, analysts believe employers need to effectively balance office and home working staff to achieve maximum benefits for their firms.
By: Adotey Mingle/adrdaily.com