Homeworking – a Drain or Productivity in Action?
With all the publicity this week around the CEO of Yahoo, Marissa Mayer deciding that home working should be withdrawn, and following some media speculation that this facility was being widely abused at Yahoo, I jokingly exchanged a few words on the topic with our President here at Maximizer, Vivek Thomas, during my weekly call to Canada as he was working at home that day.
The following day BBC Radio, TV News and National Press were running the same story and I mentioned some of the thoughts and opinions to some Staff and Management Team here at Maximizer EMEA.
Opinion was divided; on the one side the ability to disappear to your home office as a Manager to do that bit of research or create the next marketing piece is certainly appealing. If you are a highly disciplined staff member it can certainly work very well.
In fact I am sure, like me, you have days at the office where your ‘things to do list’ of six items, flies out of the window within five minutes of arriving at your desk. For me, on Thursday that started with an early call from a Business Partner with an idea to offer a discount to a win a deal in the Emirates, and then Anita, my Head of Marketing pop’s her head in to discuss whether we should hold our next event at the local swanky Hotel or at Canada House in Trafalgar Sq… several further phone calls and a couple of urgent emails later and it’s already getting dusk outside. In contrast, if I had taken the decision to work from home that day, I would have completed all six tasks on my ‘to do’ list and then some. So personally, working from home increases productivity, especially as I can access my CRM and emails via my smartphone and iPad, but why then do I find myself agreeing with Mayer?
Answer; not everyone is as disciplined as I. In my mind, allowing my staff the ability to work from home can have serious drawbacks (as well as benefits). Namely, it’s nearly impossible to manage staff who aren’t as committed and disciplined, when you can’t monitor their activities, because you cannot physically see them. For example, how do you know if an employee is writing that time sensitive bid proposal or browsing for that last minute holiday deal in the sun? There is also the negative impact on working relationships, especially for staff that rarely come into the office. Such individuals miss out on the dynamics and banter with their colleagues, which fuel’s team work, supporting productivity between departments.
So what is the outcome here?
Luckily for me, as the Managing Director of Maximizer ‘Customer Relationship Management (CRM)’ software, the decision to promote or withdraw the ability to work from home was easy. Maximizer CRM web access offers all my employees the ability to logon to Maximizer and work on their ‘Hotlist’ tasks, lists of opportunities, customer service tickets and marketing campaigns from home; while I can measure the productivity of my home-workers via the easy to use and ‘real-time’ dashboards and Crystal Reports built into the software.
In short, I can instantly see how many calls an employee makes, how many emails are sent, and which customer or prospect records have been updated, whether the employee is sitting physically next to me or in Timbuktu!
So instead of questioning whether my staff are productive when they work from home, I look at my Management Team and whether they have the skills to co-ordinate the workload for home-workers.
Now some roles and tasks will never lend themselves to be measured in such a way, and maybe employees who undertake these roles should be restricted to the office. However, roles which can be monitored, such as Sales, Marketing, Customer Service etc., my question now is, do I trust my Managers? And as long as I do, and I believe my Managers support their teams by providing regular updates, set realistic and timely goals and create a culture of transparency, whereby employees know what is expected of them in and out of the office – I believe home workers can be extremely productive.
Like everything in life, it’s a question of having the right tools to get the job done. See what else Maximizer CRM can do to support Senior Executives