Technology plays a vital role in people’s everyday life. The internet is one such example – its humble beginnings as a platform for exchange of important documents has transformed into a multi-mass media capable of initiating interactive communications among a large group of people, literally from every part of the world. As its benefits become more apparent, many firms have come up with innovative solutions to work from home and people are increasingly pursuing work that can be done in the comfort of their dwellings.
Instead of having to conduct meetings to instruct employees, managers can now disseminate the same information through electronic mail; it is no longer necessary for project mates to come together to discuss but harness the power of instant messaging and online FOREX values and stock market readings allow traders to carry out trading almost anywhere. The list is certainly non-exhaustive.
While the possibility of exploring more far-reaching benefits heralds an exciting future and promises numerous benefits as shown below, there are certain shortcomings that have been identified such as the lack of supervision eventually leading to slack in work and performance. In managing such a dilemma, it is more appropriate to create a culture where there is a balance of having the privilege to work from home and attend compulsory meetings, rather than brushing off the potential to utilise sophisticated gadgets to our advantage. When people work from home, they effectively eliminate travel time.
This increases productivity and reduces the loss precious of man-hours in having to put up with congestion. Exponential rise in global population as well as an increased rate of migration to cities has resulted in overcrowding in many metropolitan cities such as Hong Kong and New York, leading to high traffic congestion during peak hours. Statistics tell us that the annual delay per peak period traveller has grown from 16 hours to 47 hours since 1982. Working from home provides an effective alternative solution as compared to unpopular policies such as implementing unjustified increases in road tax.
It is also less draining on the government’s budget balance as compared to solutions that advocate the construction of more highways and multi-tier roads. Since, most of the travelling is a result of people getting to work, partially eliminating the root cause can ease unimaginable congestion levels. In addition, working from home is environmentally friendly –it can be part of a global agenda as leaders are pushing for a more sustained economic growth without jeopardising the environment.
Reduced consumption of fuel by eliminating travel to and from work can reduce the emission of toxic and potent green house gases such as nitrogen oxides, which are key contributors to global warming. If working from home can become a widely accepted approach to daily living, big offices that require twenty-four hour electricity consumption can be downsized drastically reducing amount of fossil fuels burnt to generate electricity to power continuously running air-conditioners and lightings.
There is also more economic benefit for workers to switch off electrical appliances after use since they are using them at home and will be paying for the bills, as opposed to pushing the burden onto the firms as done previously. On the other hand, people cannot interact with their managers and their project mates directly when they work from home. Even with the advent of instant messaging applications and whiteboard sharing. For instance, when working on requirement gathering for a specific project, it is convenient to get the doubts clarified directly.
In addition, the solution or problem can be better explained when the people have direct eye-to-eye contact. Because of this, the situation requires people to be present at their office premises. After taking into consideration the environmental and economical benefits derived from working at home as well as reconciliation with the fact that certain situations mandate the employee’s presence in the office, the decision ultimately depends on the nature of the corporation and the trust shared between employers and employees.
It is worth considering that apart from companies, schools and universities have welcomingly embraced the developments of technology with open hands by embarking on online learning and establishing virtual classrooms. It can be seen that these institutions recognise that technology will be playing an indispensable role in the near future and by blatantly refusing to accept its presence, we are only making ourselves worse off by becoming less competent and flexible. Thus, I strongly believe in supporting the idea of working from home.