Advantages & Disadvantages of Alternative Workplaces

Working from home might increase productivity.

Working from home might increase productivity.

Sometimes syncing your life with your job is just too hard. One solution is to help your employer set up alternative work arrangements, such as a different workplace or schedule. Telecommuting, for instance, lets you work from home. Or perhaps you can open a satellite office for employees who live far from the central location. The key is to design an arrangement that has advantages that suit your busy life.

Location

Offering several work locations for employees might be an effective alternative to everyone working at one site. For example, satellite offices allow workers to travel to convenient locations rather than a headquarters. One advantage of this approach is that employees can live in areas with a lower cost of living, which lessens the pressure on the organization to provide higher salaries.

Scheduling

Alternative workplaces might allow employees to set their own schedules. This means, for instance, a working mother could come into work when it suits her children’s schedule rather than conform to normal business hours. Similarly, telecommuting and satellite offices might sync better with busy schedules, allowing employees more flexibility. These options also decrease commute time, making it easier for employees to work longer hours.

Effects

The overall advantage of providing alternative workplaces is flexibility. Rather than design a workplace based strictly on the organization’s needs, a company can provide its employees with scheduling and location options that suit their lives. As a result, the company might be more attractive to job hunters in search of a flexible employer. Also, the employer might enjoy high employee retention and worker satisfaction.

Transitioning Troubles

A possible disadvantage is that an alternative workplace might match current employees’ needs but not the needs of future employees. For example, the schedule and location that suit a working mother might not suit future recruits who arrive straight from college.

Disorganization

Another potential disadvantage of an alternative workplace is disorganization. If employees work at different locations, for example, monitoring a project via daily group meetings becomes more difficult. Incompatible work schedules also might make team organization a nightmare. Video- and teleconferencing might help somewhat, but if the organization depends on face-to-face meetings -- for instance, to meet with clients -- the disadvantages of the alternative working arrangements might outweigh the benefits.

Considerations

Perhaps a radical overhaul is too much for your employer. In that case, try making small modifications to the workplace. Ask to reorganize the office, for example, to relocate employees so that team projects are easier to manage. Or ask to telecommute on a limited basis or to work later shifts a few times a week. The key is to prove to your employer that providing an alternative work arrangement can help you and others contribute more.

 

About the Author

Stan Mack is a business writer specializing in finance, business ethics and human resources. His work has appeared in the online editions of the "Houston Chronicle" and "USA Today," among other outlets. Mack studied philosophy and economics at the University of Memphis.

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