In this inspiring series we speak to successful entrepreneurs who are proving that success in business doesn’t have to cost the Earth…
Home may be where the heart is, but it’s still fairly unusual for it to be where your place of work is too. Despite the communications revolution in recent years just 3.7 million people work from home in the UK – a relatively small percentage of the total workforce of around 36 million.
As businesses become more and more aware of their impact on the environment, homeworking represents a significant opportunity for them to be kinder to the planet and their workers by sparing them the daily commute!
David Vane, founder of WorkZmarter, says that businesses have nothing to fear. According to David, enabling staff to work from home not only reduces the number of cars on the road; it also decreases staff stress levels.
“There’s a perception that people working from home don’t work very efficiently,” says David over the phone from his home in Southampton, clearly sensing our slight ‘but doesn’t everyone just sit on their sofa watching Jeremy Kyle’ scepticism.
He adds: “In our experience they don’t take time to go to the water cooler. We found that our ladies who were mums were dropping off the children at 9, working all day solidly and producing high-quality work.”
WorkZmarter, who were runners-up in Logica’s Sustainability Stories competition, have 15 virtual assistants working from home. David thinks that many more business could benefit from this model.
“The big stumbling block is getting businesses to understand that they don’t need to own all of their resources,” he says. “The problem for most businesses is that they judge success by bums-on seats. If the director sees 40 people in front of them working, they think ‘great, we’re doing really well’. The fact that half may be on Solitaire and the other half on Facebook doesn’t seem to cross their mind.”
So how does David go about convincing those sceptical directors about the value of homeworking? “Well, the company’s called WorkZmarter – work smarter, not harder. Everybody I talk to says they’re so busy. Well, what are you doing?
“Everyone’s running around like maniacs but lots of people aren’t trained well enough to use things like Outlook or LinkedIn and it scares everybody, so they end up ignoring it or spending hours not being very efficient.”
But is the rest of the business world going on that journey with him?
“There is a slight change,” he says. “I think more small business owners tend to work from home now. It’s better than it was eight years ago. I think that over in the States outsourcing is very big now.”
David’s ambition for the future is to get the UK up to speed with the Americans, who he thinks are two years ahead in terms of working culture. “I would like to have Virtual Assistants in ten major cities in the country providing back office services for local businesses.”
Here comes the science bit…
GC articles show you one of four ways (the one in bold) to live greener…