While the media coverage has focused on the countless employees transitioning to remote working following the government’s coronavirus advice, the fact that over 1.5 million Brits already work at home has been overlooked. As workplaces across the world continue to emphasise flexible working, remote working is becoming more accepted in a plethora of industries.
Although this trend serves as a clear rejection of Frederick Winslow Taylor’s principle of scientific management, it does have support from other Management literature. Abraham Maslow would argue that, according to his hierarchy of needs framework, greater worker autonomy helps to meet ego (in the form of power over working conditions) and self-actualisation (the ability to work more creatively) needs.
Remote working, which research has shown can lead to significant productivity gains, comes with the caveat that its successful implementation is dependent on numerous company-specific factors, such as organisational culture. However, if the organisation is well-suited to allow remote working, Jay Barney’s findings on the effects of culture on long-run performance suggest that such policies can drive long-term financial success. Even if an industry is highly compatible with remote working, its firms still need to develop well-thought-out schemes to consider how the negative effects of working at home, such as loneliness and burnout, can be mitigated.
The introduction of home working, therefore, benefits both employees and employers. The workplace autonomy is correlated with greater job satisfaction in the case of workers; on the other hand, employers are satisfied by the productivity boost. Given that managers are judged on their ability to increase worker productivity, there is often a very compelling case for them to endorse remote working.
Applicants for Management can consider how different Management theorists may prescribe contradicting policies, since different empirical studies may result in different findings.