The debate around the advantages or disadvantages of working from home has raged pretty much since it has been possible.
Does the employer lose out or are staff actually more productive when working from home, as is often argued?
IBM, for instance, once blazed a trail for teleworking but last month apparently had a change of heart, insisting its staff return to office-bound roles.
So, what is best for business? Well, it very much depends on the circumstances of each individual case.
The sector, size and geographical location are, of course, major factors. A small tech start-up in a remote town, for example, may choose to allow its staff to work remotely in an effort to attract better talent. Indeed, if remote working were not possible, such companies might struggle to recruit staff at all.
Larger companies will firmly regimented staff processes, however, might need staff to come into the office so someone can make sure the work is being done in a timely and correct manner.
From the employee’s perspective, there are several obvious benefits. Cutting the time and cost of the commute and being able to work flexibly – managing the school run for example – are chief among them.
Another advantage of working from home often cited is the apparent health implications.
Frances O’Grady, general secretary of the TUC in the UK, has said in the past: “The benefits of giving employees what they want in this area should make everyone happier.
“There are obvious personnel and productivity gains for employers, while workers gain time and save money.
“More women and disabled people will be more easily able to work.”
“More homeworking also means less transport congestion and reduced emissions. It’s a smart option.”
Jason Downes, editor in chief at conference call specialists www.powwownow.co.uk argued home working can also benefit employers.
He said: “Businesses in every industry must ensure their flexible working policy complies with government legislation.
Flexible working has to benefit you as an employer as much as your employees.
“Factors likely to affect an organisation’s flexible working policy include the size of the business, the product or service offered, and the range of employee roles.
“Flexible working has to benefit you as an employer as much as your employees.
“It can be easy to fall into the trap of thinking that such arrangements only offer advantages to the staff members using them, but there are plenty of positives for employers too.
“The benefits of flexible working hours we find, are a very relaxed atmosphere in the office, a social group with lots of activities before, during and after work, and a stress-free workforce.
“Our staff can manage their own time, and fulfil out-of-work duties such as doctor’s and dentist’s appointments in the morning, before they come to work.”
And then there are those who do a bit of both – working from home on given days or as and when it’s needed.
This solution offers the flexibility that many employees crave but also gives the employer a greater degree of control. It also means the staff member is less likely to feel ostracised and is able to enjoy the office camaraderie that people tend to realise they miss when they work from home.