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Do We Need So Many Offices?
By Sonya Buck, AgCareers.com Australia

 

My goodness, things have changed. Internet, email, meetings via computer and mobile phones have now freed up many of us to work from anywhere – home, a hotel during a work trip or a café.

I’m just one example of how technology has changed the way we work. Many years ago I worked for a large corporate with floor after floor full of offices and workstations. Hundreds of us filed in every day into a mirrored glass building located in our local CBD and now my sun filled office looks out over cattle, sheep and some beautiful native birds.

You may think I am writing this article with bias, but I think it might be worth considering how many of your employees really could work from home and the advantages it may bring both you and them.

There are many benefits for the employer and the employee and here are just a few:


Employer

  • No rent, or building cost if you don’t have an office at all. Even having less staff in the office, you could utilise a smaller building.
  • Less or no utility costs and furniture, equipment etc.
  • Increased productivity. Employees may take less time off for personal or family commitments. They can just make up the time later.
  • Fewer sick days. Employees may not spread illnesses throughout the office.
  • Having employees that work from home opens up a larger pool of candidates. You could employ the best talent and they could be located anywhere in Australia.


Employee

  • No travel time – the awful daily commute. Also less Petrol or Public Transport costs
  • You may feel less stressed and have the opportunity to spend more time with family
  • There could be less distractions at home
  • After maternity leave, if they wish, women can return to work sooner and be close to baby
  • Your office could be a tax deduction


Let’s face it, when you call some companies now you wouldn’t know where the employee is located. You just need to receive a great level of customer service from wherever it may be.

Many roles in Agriculture belong to the sales force and lots of these employees will already working outside of the traditional workplace environment.

As an employer to make this new workplace model work, you need the right people.

At first you may need to change your management style a little to ensure work is getting completed. Setting goals and completion dates for employees will ensure the work is carried out effectively. Also you may want to have regular catchups in your (new smaller) office or via the phone or Skype.

Realistically, it isn’t going to work with all employees and maybe you could propose a trial.

Unfortunately, some of our regional areas still have difficulty with internet access and this would need to be factor in allowing your employees to work from home. We can only hope the NBN roll out or improved communications take place in the country areas where it is essential whichever party is in Government.

Of course, not all employees can be located offsite, as many carry out a face to face customer service function or just require face to face interaction, therefore, there will always be bricks and mortar offices.

For others, it might be time to consider if employees working from home can really assist your business and your valued employees.