The Netherlands – A Paradise for Working from Home
As of the first of July 2015, your colleagues and clients in the Netherlands can request from their employers that they be allowed to work from home under the Home Office Right, essentially a legal extension of the status quo in a country where 35%[i] of workers perform their jobs from home. According to DutchNews, „The new legislation not only allows workers to request more flexible working times, but will also allow them to reduce or extend their hours after six months[ii].“ The law is related to a reform of the country’s health care system in consideration of workers who need to care for aging family members. This legislation also compliments other Dutch employment practices that consider work as one part of employees’ lives, including a 30-hour average workweek; 25 days of paid holiday leave annually; Dutch women working four-day weeks as the norm[iii]; and many people opting to work part-time jobs[iv]. While employers may make a case against the request, they must sufficiently demonstrate why it is necessary that an employee work from the company office.
The Challenges of Working Virtually
Many consider working from home to be a part of living a gezellig („cozy“) life because it allows increased access to connect with ourselves and others in the day-to-day of our (work) lives. While some may crave the rights—or perhaps privileges—of Dutch employees, it remains true in the Netherlands and worldwide that those working virtually from home offices or otherwise share something in common: the challenge of improving work performance virtually. If not in our physical workspaces, there is an opportunity being pioneered in our virtual workspaces to invest in connectedness with one another. It’s called Virtual Closeness.
Improving Virtual Performance
If you don’t have it, you want it. The business rationale for Virtual Closeness is that feeling connected with the people with whom we work is a key criteria for improved virtual performance. Coined by the co-developers of the VPA (Virtual Performance Assessment)® tool and VPI (Virtual Performance Improvement)® solution portfolio, Virtual Closeness describes the perceived closeness between two or more people in communication or cooperation scenarios with little or no face-to-face contact. VPA measures the extent of Virtual Closeness among teams, groups or networks—and thus their virtual performance—and VPI provides guidance in how to practically interpret and apply lessons learned from such customized assessments.
Creating Virtual Closeness
We do not all have access to work from home today, but within the grasp of all who work virtually—from either a home or company office—is the opportunity to enrich our (work) lives with increased connectedness for our own bottom line and that of the business. Leadership, management, networking, communication, use of technology—and more—are common to any work environment. Though all require a concerted and skilled approach in virtual settings. If you’re “doing it right,” working virtually is going to take effort in a different way—and you’re going to feel unified with others in the process.
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The above article was included in the July 2015 intercultures e-newsletter.
Photo source: Getty Images