On 25 of January 2023 Luxembourgish MP's will debate the possibility of 2 work from home days a week...why is this still up for debate?
Working from home, remote working or home office. Regardless of what you call it, more and more companies and employees are ditching the office to do their jobs from home. After delaying the first debate from the 30 October, Luxembourg MP's are poised to debate the addition of a second work from home day into the Luxembourgish work week. While I commend the chamber's willingness to talk about a second work from home day, I can't help but ask myself "what is there left to debate?"
We can't talk about working from home, without first acknowledging the many jobs that cannot be done from home. During the pandemic, the individuals working in these roles became known as "essential workers" and it was these people who braved the risk of the outdoors to keep the world running. Cooks, shop clerks, delivery people and of course medical staff are just a few of the people who sacrificed their health while the rest of us stayed home.
Then, something magical happened. Somehow, someway, employers found a way to keep their operations running remotely despite having previously lamented that in-office work was the only possible solution for productivity. It was during this time when there was a paradigm shift, and employees who had previously been told they "needed to come into the office" realised that they had been lied to. As the world has opened back up, there has been a reluctance by many to return to the office, and it's hard to understand why employers want them to.
Countless studies have shown that working from home can increase productivity by up to 70%! I'll admit that number does seem rather high, but keep in mind sample size, industry etc. I'll happily accept the humble 13% productivity increase that was discovered during a study of 16,000 employees conducted by Stanford University. Regardless of which study you are looking at, the evidence is clear: working from home increases employee productivity. But why?
While I can't speak for all employees across the world, I can speak for myself, and the biggest benefit of working from home for me has been work-life balance. I have more free time on the day I work from home, meaning I can catch up on sleep, exercise, run errands or do chores during the time I would normally spend commuting to and from the office. Knowing that I have one day where I will have that bit of extra time, makes me less stressed about my life outside of work and more focused and ready to tackle my job when I clock in.
In fact, you'll find multiple studies that will back this up too! Employees that have a healthier work-life balance require fewer breaks, get sick less and take fewer sick days than those with an unhealthy work-life balance. Translation for all you employers out there: more revenue. Seems like both parties win here.
Working from home also saves money while simultaneously reducing your carbon footprint! Staying at home means workers don't have to spend money on transportation, parking or gas. (For those of you who have read any of my previous opinions, you'll know that anything I can do to reduce my carbon footprint and stay in my pjs all day is a win in my book.) While this doesn't really make a strong case for employers to push for more work from home days, it is a benefit of remote working that can nevertheless improve employee morale.
So let's recap: better work-life balance, less sick days, increased productivity, more disposable income and a lowered carbon footprint. All of these benefits result in employees reporting greater job satisfaction, which translates into happier workers and better employee retention.
So when I ask the question why is working from home still up for debate, it's because I genuinely can't understand how it isn't a complete win-win for both the employee and the employer. Why would we not want happier and healthier employees? Why would we not want increased productivity which results in higher revenues? Why do we not want our employees to stay longer and feel more satisfied with their jobs?
I think the real question that should be up for debate next year in the chamber and in every single board room across the globe is not "Should we let our employees work another day from home?" but rather "Why the hell do we keep requiring them to come in?"