The University of Loughborough is conducting a study into the work-life balance of Out Of Office workers. Here’s their call to action:
There is little research into the work-life balance of people who work from home. The purpose of this study is to explore the factors that influence how people who work from home manage their work-life balance. I am seeking adults aged 18 or over who work from home (part-time, full-time or some of the time) to take part.
This survey consists of a set of questions about working from home, your preferences, and some demographic questions. It should take around 15 minutes to complete.
I took the survey – it’s a set of multiple-choice questions. If you’d like to contribute then visit the survey’s home page.
Despite the explosive growth of cloud computing, few organisations are using it effectively for collaboration, especially with their Out of Office workers. In this episode, we share some practical tools to foster online collaboration.
Listen to the episode here:
Research and Notes
Calendars and Appointments
- Podio (replacement for internal e-mail)
- Online meeting tools: Skype, Google Hangout, GoToMeeting, GoToWebinar, GoToTraining, WebEx, MS-Lync
- Support for online meetings: Bubbl.us (mind mapping), Padlet.com (bulletin board)
- Online Forums: Yammer (like a private Facebook group for business), Ning (like private Facebook)
- Basecamp.com (project management)
- Support ticket systems like Bugzilla, Trac, JIRA
One of my clients, Garth Roberts, posted this picture to Facebook earlier this year:
He said it was so successful that he’s planning to do it again every quarter. And he’s inspired me to go away for a similar trip (not as far as Banff, though!) to do some solid writing on my next book.
What can you do to get into the right mindset for something important? This is one of the big benefits of the Out of Office work style. So create the opportunity if you can!
According to research conducted by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA), 5.6 million Australian adults used the Internet to work Out Of Office during 2013. Other interesting findings of the ACMA survey include:
- 51% of Australian workers either accessed the Internet outside normal working hours or were teleworkers
- 2.8 million Australians (49%) worked from home at least two days a week while 863,000 (15%) worked away from the office one day a week
- 68% of digital workers used laptops to work Out Of Office, 33% used smartphones, 21% used tablets and 30% used a PC
- 95% of respondents reported benefits such as greater flexibility, improved productivity and access to home comforts
- 24% of respondents cited problems such as reduced access to communications services while 20% said they missed having access to colleagues
Kim Mason is an independent travel agent working under the TravelManagers banner, and she is one of 400+ travel agents in that organisation who work from home. I came across Kim because I’m speaking at the TravelManagers national conference next month, and Kim and I are collaborating on a workshop about time management and productivity for home office workers.
This book is short but full of practical advice for anybody who works from a home office or is contemplating making the move there. I particularly like that it’s a nice blend of strategy and tactics, from the Big Picture questions (for example, why you decided to work from home) to practical daily suggestions (such as how to choose your “open for business” hours).
Fiona MacDonald, research fellow at the Centre for Work + Life, University of South Australia, has written an interesting article for the Sydney Morning Herald entitled Working from home might not be the answer to work-life balance. MacDonald interviewed women employed as small-business bookkeepers, some working from home others working in an office. For women with caring responsibilities who work from home, MacDonald observed the following:
- they have greater flexibility in their daily routines but “an increased likelihood work would have to be done on weekends and in the evenings and at night”
- “tension between their caring and paid work responsibilities”
- feelings of isolation; missing the social experience of the workplace, and not having any leisure time
MacDonald concludes with some useful advice for Out Of Office working mums that echoes the ideas and techniques we describe in our book:
- paid work hours need to be scheduled and contained
- contain the spaces in which work is performed so the door can be shut when the paid work day is over
- have a mix of hours at home and hours in a separate workplace to help maintain social connections
The technology for online meetings has advanced to the stage where many organizations see them as a viable alternative to in-person meetings, conferences and other events. This is especially important for Out of Office workers, for whom online meetings are the most convenient, productive and feasible option.
However, there are still concerns that online meetings don’t provide the same benefits as their in-person equivalents. The good news is that this doesn’t have to be an either-or proposition. Organizations, meeting planners and conference organizers can get the best of both worlds by combining virtual and in-person meetings.
I recently published a blog post for Citrix on this topic, with ideas for ways to organise meetings with both in-person and online attendees.
Hybrid meetings, no matter if they are webinars, trainings, or conferences, reduce travel expenses for remote members and dispersed organizations, extend the reach of the meeting, capture knowledge and insights for future reference, increase workplace flexibility, and allow participants to interact in different ways. If you’re already conducting online meetings and events, look for opportunities to turn them into hybrid events. It’s not just the way of the future – it’s right here and now.
In this episode, we look at the daily working lives of great artists, writers, philosophers, and other geniuses – and apply them to Out of Office work.
Listen to the episode here:
I co-authored the book Out of Office on the same topic, so it won’t come as a surprise that I like this book as well! I particularly like the way it’s laid out, with short bite-sized chunks for each point. It’s almost like a collection of blog posts, but organised well rather than just randomly strung together.
Be warned that if you’re already doing remote work and are looking for practical ideas, this book is a bit light on the practical stuff. But if you’re thinking about the possibility of remote work in your organisation, teams or career, this is the perfect book to motivate you.
Lisa Evans writes on the Future of Work blog about a couple of companies that have instituted a four-day working week (Monday to Thursday) boosting employee morale and improving productivity. Lisa lists the following benefits of a three-day weekend:
- Employees return to work recharged
- It’s a benefit other companies don’t match
- When employees spend less time at work they are more efficient when they are there
- It creates a sense of urgency
- It improves teamwork
Out Of Office workers have the freedom to structure their working week to best suit their lifestyles. Have you tried a four-day working week? If so then please let us know how it worked for you. If not, it might be worth trialling.
Read Lisa’s article in full at Fast Company’s Future of Work blog.