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Can a group of monkeys locked in a room with an infinite amount of time produce another Shakespeare’s Hamlet? Mathematicians tell us that the probability is highly unlikely but technically, never zero.This tiny proportion of probability is referred to as Infinite Monkeys Theorum and is in fact one of the reasons why so many companies across the globe still reject the very idea of working remotely. Sure, it might be a slightly long bow to draw, but fact is that most managers question their employee’s efficacy when working from home. In addition, managers know and expect that moments of serendipity rarely strike while working in isolation.In other words, get a group of people together in the same room and it is probable that a few might connect and create something that they wouldn’t have thought of otherwise.The very notion of serendipity has inspired the likes of Google to introduce benefits such as free meals for their staff, motivating them to work on-site. It influenced Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer’s decision to ban remote working and is the reason why globally dispersed online companies like WooThemes still locate seven employees in their office in Cape Town, South Africa.While these factors may work against the merits of remote working, they aren’t as severe as they would seem on the surface. According to research conducted by Global Workplace Analytics (GWA), more than 50 million people in the US alone have jobs that were remote workable.GWA claims that if these employees worked from home half the time, or 2.5 days per week, then the reduction in greenhouse gases would be equivalent to taking the entire New York workforce off the roads (51 million tons, in case you were wondering).Nicholas Bloom of HBR, completed a study on the topic, which found that remote workers are more productive. Chinese travel site Ctrip, for instance, found employees that worked from home made 13.5% more calls than workers in the office did, meaning that Ctrip got almost an extra workday a week out of them.Their logic was that it could save money on rental, furnishings and outgoings if people worked from home and that the savings would outweigh the productivity hit it would take when employees left the structured office environment. Staff turnover amongst people who worked from home was also a whopping 50% less than the office bound employees.Was Marissa Mayer Wrong?Not entirely. It all depends on the context in which her decision can be framed. Marissa Mayer’s move was probably motivated by the need to boost organisational strength and morale, develop a team of innovative employees with interdependent relationships which is difficult to achieve under the remote working model.This is consistent with research of Harvard Business Review which says that the more mechanical a job is, the greater the benefit of working from home.The jury is still out on both creative and strategic vocations and how their performance might be affected by working remotely but the common theme appears to be that allowing your employees to work remotely, once or twice a week, be it from home or a coworking space, is beneficial.Gallup research supports this view and concludes that people who spend some time working remotely are more engaged (35%) than their on-site comrades (28%). However, the law of diminishing returns applies and the research goes on to find that employees who spend more than half their time working remotely are twice as likely to be actively disengaged (22%) compared with employees who work remotely less than 20% of the time (12% actively disengaged).

Reference: Hotdesk.


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