Is banning home working simply holding back the tide?

    The news this week that Yahoo! has banned home working for employees is causing much debate.

    It’s a move that has surprised many, especially as it seems the trend to work outside of the office continues to grow. For example, an article from the BBC highlights that home working is on the rise in the UK and a quarter of people employed in the US work from home for at least some hours a week.

    Information Age reports the main driver for Yahoo!’s move is to promote better collaboration. But many are highlighting a seemingly obvious contradiction; a high tech organisation that exists to drive collaboration and communication online now sees being present in the office as critical.

    The Work 3.0 revolution

    In our Work 3.0 whitepaper, published last year, Mitel highlighted how technology is leading a rapid pace of change that is transforming where, when and how we work.

    There is clear evidence that new ways of working will fast overtake the traditional office environment and workers want to break free from the nine-to-five culture and adopt new ways of working.

    Is the move by Yahoo! simply only an attempt to hold back the home working tide?

    Technological innovation is focusing on enhancing how we communicate, interact and collaborate virtually; employees are demanding more flexible approaches to how, when and where they work; and businesses are operating in a global market.

    Personally, I believe that Yahoo!’s ban on home working is regressive and ill informed. It does not reflect the impact of social and cultural change on the workplace, especially the increasingly important need to balance work and family life.

    Neither does this approach take account of the global economy and the fact that organisations need to attract and retain the best people, with the right skills, irrespective of their location.

    A new type of office

    That said, there is some way to go until we reach a working world that is focused around the individual and not the physical location. The office will continue to play an important role and Mitel research shows that workers still enjoy the social interaction and opportunities to collaborate offered in a typical in an office environment.

    But perhaps it is time to start viewing our physical offices in an entirely new way. Companies can turn them into hubs of collaborative working, where desk space becomes a shared resource and plug-and-play technologies bring any number of workers together to engage and innovate.

    It’s time for companies to stop being prescriptive and start looking for a balance between home and office working that promotes virtual collaboration and engenders a positive working culture. Collaborative working through technology is a trend that companies need to embrace. Those that don’t will quickly find themselves left behind.