Combine the benefits of working at home and at the office

Many of us have been working from home for the last couple of years. In many businesses, employees can choose whether to work from home or in the office. Both options have their own pros. Home working usually benefits concentration levels, and the office improves communication and team spirit. Learn how to apply the advantages of one environment to the other to maximise employee comfort everywhere. 

Some employees are more productive at home, while others only want to work in the office. Get the best of both worlds by offering the benefits of working from home in the office, and vice versa. Consider flexible working hours, concentration workstations, and consultation hours. 

The benefits of working from home 

According to a study (in Dutch) by the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency (2021), working from home is more productive due to the following factors: 

A comfortable home office 

A large number of the home workers who participated in the survey reported improved concentration in their home office. In a home office, they can design their own environment and are not distracted by colleagues with questions, chatter, and noise nuisance as often. 

Flexible working hours 

Home workers also say they can work better thanks to the flexible working hours. Now, they can work when and where their biological rhythm and personal situation allow. With flexible working hours, employees can go out for a walk or a dentist’s appointment. They work more at times that suit them, and therefore they get more work done. 

Travel time 

Some home-based workers report that they are more productive when they do not have to commute. With the time they save, workers can work more, sleep longer, exercise more often, or perform household chores. The extra space this creates makes for both mentally and physically fitter staff. 

Reduced carbon emissions and travel costs 

Working from home cuts down on commuting and therefore carbon emissions. Besides, the employer will have to pay less travel expenses. Read more about sustainable commuting.

Better work-life balance 

Working from home can also improve your work-life balance. The study by the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency found that some home workers can, for example, sleep an hour longer or spend more time with their children if they do not have to commute. 

The benefits of working from the office 

Some people work better in an office. There could be multiple reasons for this. 

Better work-life balance 

Working from home can have positive and negative effects on your work-life balance. Employees with children or people who do not have a separate workplace at home, for example, might find it easier to concentrate in an office. On top of that, keeping work and their private life separate may be easier for them in the office. 

More guidance 

According to a survey by ZDNet, younger workers in particular are more productive in the office. One important reason is that they get more guidance in a physical environment, as it is easier to ask colleagues for help. 

Accessing systems and data 

In the office, many employees have better access to systems, data, or even WiFi. This makes them more comfortable and productive working in the office than from home. 

Create a sense of ‘home’ at the office 

If you want to encourage employees to come to the office more, make the office more attractive. Here are 4 promising modifications that emerged from a survey performed by Center For People (in Dutch):  

Create more concentration zones 

Create smaller workspaces and, if possible, some individual focus areas. For businesses that are short on space, soundproof cabins can be a good solution. 

Stick to flexible working 

Give employees flexible working hours, even on office days. Consider extending office hours so that employees who want to start earlier or later can do so. Then, if their work permits, let them flexibly decide their own working hours. Most people are less productive with fixed work and break times. 

Change the rules on travel time 

On office days, offer your employees the opportunity to work during their commute and count it as work time. You could encourage employees to take public transport. A laptop and internet hotspot on the train will get you a long way. 

Offer home workers the benefits of the office 

Conversely, employers can also make working at home more comfortable for employees. 

Consultation hours 

Employees working from home are less likely to tap a colleague on the shoulder to ask a quick question. After all, picking up the phone or dialling in takes time. Employers or managers could consider scheduling consultation hours to bundle minor questions. 

Accessing systems 

Make sure your employees have access to all systems at home or buy software that makes working from home easier. On 1 January 2022, a targeted tax relief for remote working expenses was introduced to allow employers to reimburse employees for expenses tax-free. 

Hybrid working: the perfect combination 

Many office workers prefer the best of both worlds: working from home and working in the office. This can take several forms, each depending on available workplaces and employee needs. By talking to your employees and delving into the different types of hybrid working (in Dutch), you can make work arrangements and adapt the work environment to your employees' needs. How you create the most productive work environment. 

Laws and regulations 

Note: If an employee asks you to change their working hours or workplace, you are required by law to at least explore the options, unless a business or service interest is at stake. This is enshrined in the Flexible Working Act (in Dutch).  Moreover, employers are barred from monitoring staff productivity under the privacy act (in Dutch).

Monitoring productivity includes measuring how many emails employees have sent, how many meetings they have scheduled, or how long they have been online. While productivity monitoring software exists, employers must be able to prove why business interests outweigh employee privacy if they want to use it.