Advantages of working from home
Home working opens up a new range of possibilities for the way businesses can work and structure themselves. Some benefits of working from home are:
Flexibility and agility – Since employees are no longer tied to an office, they may feel more comfortable to work flexible hours such as earlier or later in the day or even at weekends.
Improved employee retention – home working can help employees meet childcare needs, reduce their commute and enable them to fit their work around their personal life. Also, staff will feel increased levels of trust from their employer, which can contribute greatly to staff loyalty.
Increased productivity – Working from home allows for a quieter environment that can facilitate more focused work. You may also find that employees will work longer hours as they can also use their time saved from commuting to start work earlier, later or both.
Increased staff motivation – by working from home staff will feel more trusted by their employer as the working relationship isn’t as closely monitored. Developing a home working routine that suits staff better can contribute towards them feeling more motivated to give their best.
Improved staff health and wellbeing – working from home is time saving, which enables staff to get extra health benefits such as additional sleep, spending more time with family, exercising or preparing healthier meals.
Financial benefits – savings on office space, office supplies, utility bills and other facilities.
Better work/life balance – working from home can help employees improve their work-life balance for example: staff are able to fit in household chores around their working day giving them more free time in the evenings.
Technology makes it easier – the internet has made it possible for staff to be continually connected to the office. Tools such as Google Meeting or Zoom have made communication between colleagues and teams much easier and at times can lead to more efficient and effective meetings.
Less sickness absences – staff are more likely to feel happier and more energised working from home and therefore less chance of their immune system being negatively impacted by burnout or by infections spreading as would be the case within an office environment.
Less need for regular holidays – working from home can feel like a break from the office even though staff are still working. Working from home staff will feel more energised and will be able to spend more time with their family.
Disadvantages of working from home
Though there are some disadvantages to employees working at home, most of these relate to those working from home for all, as opposed to part, of their working week:
Working from home doesn’t suit everyone – Some employees might prefer the routine and structure that working in an office environment provides them, including personal interaction with colleagues. Some also find face-to-face guidance with their manager extremely beneficial in helping them complete tasks and achieve their goals. Working from home may also not fit in with everyone’s home-life or others may not have the physical space required to create a suitable dedicated working area.
Staff feeling isolated – Staff may feel a disconnect from their colleagues and organisation as a whole that an office environment naturally allows.
Difficulty monitoring performance – There could be difficulty managing home workers and monitoring their performance. Different personalities may also respond to monitoring with varying degrees of positivity.
Home distractions – If a worker doesn’t have a suitably quiet dedicated working space at home they may get easily distracted by household noises or other members of their household.
Potential burnout – Working at home can lead to staff forgetting to differentiate between work-life and home-life. This may lead to employees finding it difficult to know when to switch off from work leading to longer hours, increased stress and inevitable burnout.
Problems with staff development – You may find that not having staff in close physical proximity leads to difficulty in maintaining staff development and upgrading skills.
Information security risk – There is increase risk with laptops being taken home and the need for staff to access servers remotely. Employers should ensure they put measures in place to protect company data by installing encryption software and remote-wipe apps if mobile devices provided by you go missing.
Negative impact on mental health – The switch to working from home may have a negative impact on your worker’s mental health if they are unable to find a routine that works for them, are struggling to separate work and home life or are feeling isolated.
Decreased staff morale – it can be harder to maintain team spirit when employees are working at home on their own.
Not all jobs suit home working – working from home suits some jobs better than others. Equally, working from home suits some personality types but not others.
The coronavirus pandemic has given some employers, that may not have otherwise considered working from home an option for staff, a practical insight into how it affects their business and employees. This experience can be very beneficial in feeding into the future direction of employees’ working practices moving forward.