I’m sure that everyone has heard of the, now infamous, ban on working from home at Yahoo. While many argue over Marissa Mayer’s decision and its potential impact on worker productivity (and Ms. Mayer’s brand), there is a key piece that the arguments are glossing over; why people want to work from home in the first place. They want to be happy!
Study after study tells us of the benefits for both employee and employer of flexible work programs. One study by the Telework Research Network found that the employer benefits from higher levels of productivity: Best Buy estimated a 35% bump in productivity after initiating their program, British Telecom 20%, and DOW Chemical 32.5%, just to name a few. Employees chose several reasons why working from home was beneficial: 63%-71% wanted to avoid the commute to work, 49%-66% enjoyed the greater flexibility, and 28%-31% were able to save money.
These types of programs are designed to solicit one thing; employER and employEE happiness. It’s pretty obvious what makes an employer happy; greater productivity and energizing, positive workplace culture. But it isn’t always as clear how to make employees happy. If you could plop down a single program and everyone would be magically happy, there wouldn’t be an entire industry designed to find unique ways to increase employee happiness and I’d be short one blogging job (thank you YouEarnedIt!).
Ultimately, a flexible work program is only one way to build a happy employee. Even though 47% of employees with the option to work from home are “very satisfied” with their jobs, there is still 53% floating around out there that are only “satisfied” or worse. Another study by The Social Workplace found that only 38% of employees feel that they are more productive from home while 46% feel more productive in the office. For someone in that 46% (people like me), that flexible work program has little to no meaning.
Happiness comes to people in all shapes and sizes. One path may provide a much needed benefit to one employee but become just another unused perk to another. Self-fulfillment, engagement, appreciation, etc. are derived from a myriad of different sources. It is important to recognize that fact when we are seeking to make our offices a happier place.