Work-From-Home Policy Can Lead to Workplace Isolation

Man is by nature a social animal; an individual who is unsocial naturally and not accidentally is either beneath our notice or more than human. Society is something that precedes the individual. Anyone who either cannot lead the common life or is so self-sufficient as not to need to, and therefore does not partake of society, is either a beast or a god. ”

Aristotle was quite vocal about the effect of society on humans and we can hardly deny the fact that the absence of a social life can make life substantially difficult for us. People who work spend a generous amount of the day at their workplace. This is why it is so easy for them to give in to the usual office gossip and the impromptu interactions at the coffee machine or the water cooler. Take away all the socializing from work, and you have job that lacks the spark that many working officials are looking for.

In the past few years, working from home gained sudden momentum and many companies adopted the policy that made it flexible for people to work out of office. The policy got a lot of attention from companies, and many considered it to be a policy that led to a happier workforce because employees got to spend more time with their families. It also helped companies hire talent from far flung locations.

There were leaders who had their doubts about working from home. Most of their doubts were centered on whether employees who chose to work from home will be productive or not and if their efficiency will decline without any kind of monitoring. While all the focus was on the people who were working off site, a new research tells business leaders to direct their concerns towards those who are working on site.

Doesn’t make sense? Research conducted by Professor Kevin W. Rockmann of George Mason University and Michael G. Pratt who is a management professor at Boston College, suggests that people who come to the office to work are missing out on the casual workplace interactions which brightened up the workplace. With more employees choosing to work from home, those who did come to office felt disconnected. This made more people choose to work from home to avoid workplace desolation rather than to spend time with the family.

Not that we undermine that abilities of communication technology which has certainly made it easy for us to hold conferences with people from different locations. E-mails, phone calls, instant messages and Skype can ensure work is done, but the usual camaraderie of a team is lost with a lack of interaction in the same physical space.

In 2013, when Yahoo! decided to curtail the work from home policies of the company, it was met with huge criticism from employees as well as other companies. To think of what Yahoo! may be going through, it seems that the company did have a point. The entire episode became controversial because of the way we looked at work from home back then.

Research shows that employees miss the traditional office environment which allowed employees to interact over a cup of coffee or have lunch with the team or indulge in some gossip. Without regular interaction in the workplace, employees also lacked the ability to work in a team. As mentioned in the research, “once a certain number of individuals work off site, everyone is isolated.”

The professors began the research by interviewing employees from 29 different companies in person. The companies were working in California and were primarily employing IT professionals. Based on these interviews, the professors expanded their research and surveyed people who worked in companies across North America. Their findings showed that people who worked on site felt isolated and did not enjoy coming to work any longer because of the absence of his team mates who chose to work from home.

Now that we understand the implications of work from home policies, companies should ensure that when they permit employees to choose where they work from, it is peremptory that the organization also finds ways in which the team can be brought together in regular intervals. This will help them rejuvenate the team spirit in their employees and make it easier for those employees who choose to come to office to work.

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