Is Flexible Working Killing Business Relationships?

Working from home

Remote working has been slammed for killing business relationships. But as business centres and coworking spaces can attest to, that’s not quite the full story.

A recent article by Real Business, written by Pimlico Plumbers’ founder Charlie Mullins, suggests that flexible working tactics such as remote working are bad for business relationships. Mullins suggested that Yahoo!’s recent decision to abolish remote working was the right one – and agrees with the company’s belief that “speed and quality are often sacrificed when we work from home.”

Let’s start with the homeworking cons. As Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer found that out when she checked the VPN logs, not enough homeworking staff were logging in during work hours. Whether or not there was still work going on behind the scenes, it seems this breached the level of trust between those employees and their CEO, which ultimately sealed their fate.

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This brings us onto the problem of ‘invisibility’. Working from home means that your manager or your client can’t see you at work, which can quickly breed distrust. And for freelancers or business owners, clients can soon forget you exist – so proactive communication and regular contact is crucial.

But flexible working isn’t just about working from home. And working from home isn’t just about shutting yourself away in a spare room.

Mullins made an interesting point when he said: “When it comes to doing business, in a world where we are becoming increasingly social, it appears we are actually becoming more and more isolated from each other.”

As flexible workspace goes, this couldn’t be further from the truth.

Officing Today recently ran a series of articles on workspace design, and every single article pointed to new ideas of how to open the workplace up to encourage greater collaboration between workers. You only have to look at the phenomenal growth of coworking to see how this trend is taking off. According to DeskMag, three new coworking locations opened every single day in 2012, and what makes a good coworking space? A collaborative environment with a strong community.

In other words, it’s all about getting together.

The growth in coworking and touchdown spaces in business centres shows that we are all too happy to get out of the home and get some face-to-face time once in a while. Far from moving further apart, flexible working is now bringing many business people closer together. This collaboration is what helps us to stay focused, gain inspiration, beat loneliness and work better. Would Yahoo! still be making headlines if their home-based employees had access to coworking spaces?

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We are moving towards a new world where flexible working – in its many forms – is becoming commonplace. Workspaces are being designed to fit its people, rather than forcing different personalities into a box. Working from home is part of that trend, and it’s how we deal with it that counts. Coworking – be it in a business centre or an independent coworking location – is the perfect complement to the home office, and far from killing business relationships, it can even trigger new ones.

Isn’t it time we abolished old fashioned perceptions of ‘shirking from home’ and embraced the opportunities that flexible working can bring?

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