The latest edition of Professional Manager magazine poses the question above and looks at the question from a business perspective (answering NO!) and the academic perspective (answering YES!).
I’m not going to paraphrase their responses in this article as I am so biased on the side of business it would not be fair. Instead I am going to add my weight to the argument that the five-day week is still relevant in our modern society. Please feel free to respond if you think otherwise.
For starters Hewlett Packard has this week become the latest in a long line of corporate businesses to discourage ‘home working’. Yahoo did the same thing recently but why? Here are my thoughts:
Human communication over distance has come on leaps and bounds in the digital age BUT nothing is better for certain business situations than working face to face
Synergy – when people work closely in groups 2+2 can really equal 6
Effective management of staff is harder in remote situations
Hot-desking as a concept has gone cold (people want their ‘own’ regular & familiar workspace)
At times of economic challenge staff actually WANT to be seen, not hidden away
I appreciate that the argument for remote working is not the same argument as the one for the five-day week. I mention it as in order to work a totally flexible working week you must be equipped by your company to work ‘flexibly’. This equipment is the same as that required to be a home/remote worker.
There will always be job roles that are the exception to the rule but most of us are involved in businesses or organisations where our leadership and management roles will require us to meet. If everyone is on a totally flexible schedule organising such meetings will be impossible. Staffing schedules will be impossible to organise effectively.
Business will slow as a result and we all know that ‘slow’ cost us money. Those of us in service industries need to be available to serve our clients at times when they ‘need us’. What if half my staff choose to work on weekends, when my clients don’t need them? It would descend rapidly into farce!
Let me make clear I am a big supporter of equipping all staff to have the chance to work remotely when the situation is appropriate, such as adverse weather conditions.
It is easy for the academics and scientists to model their ‘ideal’ business worlds from the comfort of their sanitised offices and laboratories but I have a message for them – “Get real!’
I appreciate that many people have the responsibility for children and elderly relatives to consider (me included) but trying to juggle our business work over seven days rather than five is simply not the answer.