Dennis journalists experiment with working from home

A team of journalists working for Dennis Publishing have launched a one-day experiment into working from home – with mixed results.

Staff on B2B computing website ITpro.co.uk have set up a virtual newsroom and will attempt to go about their normal jobs using broadband, mobile phones and instant messenger.

The experiment coincides with National Work From Home Day, which is organised by Work Wise UK, a group that promotes the benefits of flexible working.

IT Pro editor Maggie Holland, who is staying in the office to co-ordinate the experiment, wrote on her blog: “The bank of desks usually filled by news-hungry journalists is empty, bar mine.

“We plan to try and be just as productive as if we were in the office, making use of technology such as IM, email, mobiles, conferencing and other collaborative tools to help us work as a virtual team.”

Holland later told Press Gazette: “Working from home or remotely is not for everyone but it should at least be considered by everyone before ruling it out completely.

“If you think how much money is lostevery year through sick days or employees turning up late for work or too stressed to work because of transport issues, the bottom line benefits of more flexible ways of working become even more obvious.”

Staff writer Asavin Wattanajantra welcomed the move and said managers needed to trust their employees if home-working was to be a success.

“There must be some management out there who still believe in clockwatching – making sure that employees come in and come out at a set time,” he wrote.

“Because you can’t see your employees then you don’t know what they are doing – are they offline, dossing, sleeping, playing with their kids – you can’t tell.”

Technology editor Benny Har-Even seemed less sure about his new working environment. He said: “I feel as if I’ve been put into isolation for bad behaviour.

“Using the power of wi-fi, I have moved from the study to the kitchen table, just to put a bit of excitement into the day. To be honest, it’s sort of worn off by now.”

News and features editor Nicole Kobie, who lives in a flatshare and has no suitable office space, said she was working from bed and had already been interrupted by loud drilling outside and a visit from the electrician.

“If you’ve got a nice house, with fast broadband, and no interruptions, working from home saves on commuting time and cost, gives you a break out of the office, and lets you focus without being interrupted by calls and the like,” she said. “But that’s a big if.”

Work Wise UK estimates that five million people will work from home today. The number of home-working UK employees has risen by 31.8 per cent over the past decade, according to research by the TUC.

Last month, the Press Association announced it was closing its West Midlands bureau to save costs and asking its six staff to work from home instead.

A similar initiative could be introduced at PA’s Manchester and Cardiff offices in the coming years.

Work Wise chief executive Phil Flaxton said: “In a tough economic climate many businesses are reaping the benefits of employees working from home.

“Not only can they save through cutting office space overhead costs, but reducing commuting time and stress also helps boost productivity.”

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