Working from home is the new trend leading the current global workforce. This is, of course, owing to the recent necessary shifts in practice because of the pandemic. However, now the world is back in business, there appears to be a general reluctance to return to the status quo. Office workers have become accustomed to working from the comfort of their home offices, and many companies are supporting them to do so. Of course, it’s not always possible in certain lines of the industry but many roles can be carried out successfully from a home base. This post takes a look at the main advantages and disadvantages of remote working.
Advantages of home working
Remote working has many advantages for employers and employees alike, so much so that is now a common preference more and more. Read on for the most popular reasons people prefer the new way of life.
The flexibility factor is a favored commodity allowed by a remote style work day. Normal working hours must be adhered to, of course, but there is a greater degree of autonomy over the day and how it is structured when you don’t have to carry out tasks in the office. Motivation and productivity are proven to increase with this style of working because people are able to be more comfortable, have breaks as and when needed, and complete work duties to their own schedules.
Fewer people traveling to an office building means fewer people on the roads or public transport. Traveling for commuting purposes is one of the leading causes of environmental harm so naturally, when there is a diminished presence, the environment is more protected. The lack of commute means fewer toxic emissions that come from cars, buses, trains, and metro systems, but the benefits to the global environment go further than simply this one fact. Without big office buildings in use, there is no need to use electricity and heating. Of course, these people will be using more energy in their homes, but that is still less harmful than operating a full-sized office block. Even with hybrid working models considered, emissions are still reduced and personal pollution factors diminished too.
It is no secret that to perform at optimum performance levels, a person needs to be calm, comfortable, and well-equipped. This is all much easier in their own space, for example, a home office. It is an opportunity for people to set their work area up with everything they need to work in the most productive way. Office spaces cannot possibly cater to bespoke desires in terms of equipment, desk styles, chairs, and other comfort factors. Whereas, working from home allows autonomy over PC and laptop device choices like these options from Lenovo, and enables a more ergonomic and suitable positioning for physical comfort as well.
Work Life Balance Made Easier
One of the greatest challenges of a daily commute and a strict external work schedule is finding equilibrium between recreation and assignment obligations. When the work day starts and finishes in-house, this problem is easier to address. The day becomes more blended, hours are more flexible and there is naturally less pressure. All of these factors lead to a substantial surge in motivation to enjoy downtime as people are less tired and already at home.
Less Pressure and Less Tiring
Last but not least, home working is much less tiring on the mind and the body. There are fewer demands on time when the commute is taken out of the equation, meetings are more relaxed and flow better, and physical comfort is more prominent. Sleep patterns are also improved owing to a reduction in general stress levels, busy travel strains, and even more structured meal times. There is more opportunity for self-care, even on a basic level such as showering and gentle exercise patterns before or after work, as there is organically more time in a day to nurture this side of life.
Communication Skill Building
When everything is virtual, people are pushed into a different mode of communicating with one another. This means a new skill base is learned. Virtual communication is more difficult and roadblocks can pop up such as:
- Poor internet connection
- Lack of attendance
- Difficulty in organization and time restraints
Therefore, all of these things need to be navigated carefully and people adapt to do just that. The ability to convey messages over a virtual platform is an acquired skill that does not necessarily come naturally. Emails, instant messaging channels, and audio or video interactions are all regular occurrences in a work day at home and new applications have to be learned to keep everything running as smoothly as possible.
Office Environments are Busy
A certain sense of peace that cannot be reached in a busy office really suits some styles of working. In the work arena, there are co-worker distractions to deal with, sometimes a large number of technology equipment emitting noises, and plenty of other noise to drown out. It is not always possible to avoid all of this, and that is why remote opportunities suit some employees. Fewer distractions mean heightened productivity, after all.
Illness is Not as Big of a Barrier
Absences because of sick staff can cause havoc on hectic agendas. Staff sickness rates will always exist, however, with the removed requirement of traveling and maintaining a façade for a whole day, people are much more likely to show up and do their job! When there is an opportunity to work in bed, people will take it even if they do things more gently.
Now we have discussed the advantages, it is time to look at the downside of working from home. It is obvious that this method does not suit everyone, and some people prefer to commute and engage with people face to face.
Fewer Social Opportunities
Isolation is cited as one of the biggest drawbacks of remote working. Without the opportunity to go into an office or work environment, there are fewer chances to meet and communicate with colleagues. It also detracts from the ability to go out and socialize after work and makes it harder to organize company gatherings outside of work hours. Of course, video socializing has become more common amongst staff but, it does not hold the same level of enjoyment as in-person activities.
Easier to Miss Problems
Remote working can lead to a dip in productivity for some people, as not everyone thrives in the comfort of their own environment. Some need the motivation of office space with their director around them for guidance to perform well in their roles. For example, people who suffer from ADHD can often struggle with tasks and getting started, alongside meeting deadlines and general organization. Without structure, this problem is exacerbated significantly. Performance management is harder to do virtually as KPIs and other targets are more difficult to track. It is an added hindrance for a manager, director, or team leader to have a team spread out across the country.
With staff in one place, it is easier to call meetings and keep everyone’s schedules in sync to fulfill timelines. Should a problem begin to occur, such as mental health or a decrease in performance, it is often mistakenly overlooked or goes unnoticed until it is too big to approach. This is detrimental to both staff and the people in charge of staff too.
Slacking off Temptation
Further to this, devoid enthusiasm has a serious impact on workers’ ability to complete their daily outputs. The temptation to slack off and procrastinate is increased by all of the naturally occurring distractions in the home. People with children, particularly small children, are pulled in different directions and their presence at home will lead to divided attention, which is not always avoidable.
Pets can also play a role in distracting from vital work-based tasks as they stay close to their owners and serve as a glowing beacon of temptation to stray away from the desk. Snacks and hot drinks also pull people away from their screens and workers are at risk of falling into bad habits with regard to breaking away for indulgence reasons.
All of these things combined, plus basic factors such as television, mobile phones, tablets, video games, reading materials, and household chores, leading to a disjointed day where work fails to be a priority. This, of course, leads to a failure to engage, and the more that distractions are allowed to take hold, the more likely they are to keep on happening.
Contrary to this, some people are at an increased risk of doing too much work. Without external influence to structure a day, tasks that overrun typical hours seep into recreational downtime. Staff may stay up late into the early hours completing office chores and neglect themselves entirely. This is a particular problem for ambitious workaholics, so not everyone is afflicted. The signs of an overworked employee are usually the following:
- Negative comments and a dip in work etiquette factors
- Performance is not what it should be
- They call in sick more frequently
- There is a lack of communication
These signs are even hard to spot without being face to face, so burnout can be missed instead of prevented. This is not ideal as it leads to a depletion of staff ratios and affects the whole team’s ability to function in their independent roles. It also reflects poorly on the company and projects the image of a business that neglects its staff.
A part of being in an office surrounded by fellow staff members is the feeling of loyalty and allegiance. When this is removed, so too are these sentiments. If a collaborative project is due, there are no awkward interactions as lines of communication can be more easily shut down and avoided. This is also true of leadership roles. Without being face to face with employees, it is harder to convey essential information. Daily information emails are handy but it is too easy to miss key updates while attempting to juggle all the other demands as well.
The risk of not performing managerial duties such as performance reviews and assessing employee outputs is also very relevant. It becomes extremely difficult to stay on top of what needs to happen when the workforce is spread around the country as it is an additional factor to figure out.
There are valuable arguments on both sides of the equation when it comes to whether or not remote working is good or bad. Ultimately, it depends on personality type and home environment as to how a person will adapt to home working situations. Some offices thrive and others crash and burn – some tasks are simply easier in person and others can be done more easily independently.