Advantages And Disadvantages Of Working From Home
Working from home can have many benefits to you and your business. Working from home opens up a new range of possibilities for the way businesses can work and structure themselves. With the outbreak of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, home working has given some employers the flexibility they need to continue their business operations while prioritizing staff and customer health and wellbeing as part of their public health responsibility.
Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, working from home was on the increase as many employers identified the benefits that it can bring to their business and the improved work-life balance for their employees. Is working from home a good idea?
Work-from-home jobs are very much a reality. The reasons workers want to do their jobs remotely aren't surprising: better work-life balance (91%), increased productivity/better focus (79%), less stress (78%), and avoiding a commute (78%).
Advantages Of Working From Home
Flexibility And Agility
Working from home enables more agility and flexibility in working arrangements. With employees no longer tied to an office, they may be better placed and more willing to work flexible hours such as earlier or later in the day or even at weekends. This may help you meet certain business needs eg if you are trading with customers residing in a different time zone.
Improved Employee Retention
Working from home can help retain employees like the flexibility of home working can help them meet childcare needs, reduce their commute and enable them to fit their work around their personal life. Being allowed to work from home, staff will also feel increased levels of trust from their employer, which can contribute greatly to staff loyalty.
Attract New Talent
Working from home can be offered as an incentive to come and work for you helping you to attract new talent to your business. Even just offering the option to work from home will give you an advantage in the job market over competitors that don't offer home working as an option to their staff.
Due to fewer interruptions, which would normally occur in an office environment. By contrast, 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 and employees are allowed a degree of autonomy to get on with their work. Staff will also be happier developing a home working routine that suits them better and this can contribute towards them feeling more motivated to give their best.
Improved Staff Health And Wellbeing
Working from home eliminates the need for a commute to work that can be stressful for your employees. Time savings such as this also enable staff to get extra health benefits such as additional sleep, spending more time with family, exercising or preparing healthier meals.
Savings on office space, office supplies, utility bills and other facilities. Staff may also be able to take advantage of the tax relief available from HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) for working from home – see claim tax relief for your job expenses – working from home.
You may have staff that do a lot of visits to customer locations and are therefore not regularly in the office. Allowing them to base themselves from home may be more convenient and leads to further time and costs savings.
Better Work / Life Balance
Working from home can help employees improve their work-life balance eg staff that would have had to commute will now be able to use that time for themselves giving the basis for a better work-life balance. Staff are also able to fit in household chores around their working day giving them more free time in the evenings eg loading or unloading the dishwasher or preparing dinner on their lunch break.
Technology Makes It Easier
The internet has made it possible for staff to be continually connected to the office. Tools such as Skype have made communication between colleagues and teams much easier and at times can lead to more efficient and effective meetings.
Fewer Sickness Absences
Staff are more likely to feel happier and more energized working from home and therefore less chance of their immune system being negatively impacted by burnout. Also, fact that employees are working in isolation there is less chance of 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 energized and will be able to spend more time with their family and therefore will not feel the need to take as much leave. However, it is your duty as an employer to ensure staff take their holidays – see know how much holiday to give your staff.
Disadvantages Of Working From Home
There are many factors that can make working from home a less than ideal work environment. For example, even if the business has been set up and equipped to work at home, it could still be difficult to work effectively if your partner, children or other family members are in the house.
If you are the one working from home, the distraction of home life can result in you not putting your full concentration on the job. Your work-from-home job could also be a challenge to the time you have to actually do it and can result in you not getting on with your job.
Working From Home Doesn't Suit Everyone
Working from home might not be suited to everyone's personality or ability. Some employees might prefer the routine and structure that working in an office environment provides them. Some staff may prefer personal interaction with colleagues and also find face-to-face guidance with their manager extremely beneficial in helping them complete tasks and achieve their goals.
You also need to be mindful of employees with a disability. Working from home may have a negative impact on the support they need to do their job. Working from home may also not fit in with everyone's home-life eg some people may have young children that may be unaware of boundaries and cause interruptions during the working day. Others may not have the physical space required to create a suitable dedicated working area.
Staff Feeling Isolated
Individuals working from home may feel a disconnect from their colleagues and the organization as a whole that an office environment naturally allows. To address this issue employers could ensure that communication is more regular.
So by scheduling quick catch-ups by phone or regular team meetings through other technologies like Skype, staff are given more opportunities to feel involved and part of the team. More informal and social catch-ups would also help counteract any feelings of isolation.
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. You could look at setting goals and targets with workers that are easily measured so that if their targets aren't being met you can identify and remedy any performance issues at an early stage. See managing staff performance and effectively managing employees who work from home.
Home distractions – although home working removes the distractions that may occur in the office 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.
Where an office provides a clear physical distinction between work and home life, 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. Employers should encourage their staff to take regular breaks and remind them of the importance to take their leave.
Cost Of Working From Home
Initial costs of training and providing suitable equipment such as laptops, mobile phones and other IT equipment. You will also have to consider adaptations to meet health and safety standards.
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. However, you could encourage staff to take the opportunity to learn new skills through online events and courses. To get started search for events on our Events Finder.
Information Security Risk
Information security problems could be more likely to occur when staff are working from home. There is an increased 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. Virtual private networks also encrypt your data and provide secure access to a remote computer over the internet. This helps keep your files and data secure yet accessible to your staff. See IT security and risks.
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. To help you can encourage your employees to develop a working routine, set up a dedicated workspace and set boundaries for other household members.
Create more opportunities for staff to stay connected by communicating through regular chats and team catch-ups. Eating healthily and taking regular exercise can also help improve mental health especially when woven into a regular routine. See 7 simple tips to tackle working from home from the NHS.
Decreased Staff Morale
It can be harder to maintain team spirit when employees are working at home on their own.
Not All Jobs Suit Working From Home
Working from home suits some jobs better than others. Equally, working from home suits some personality types but not others. Some people may prefer colleague contact by face-to-face communication.
Poor Broadband Speeds
You should be mindful that depending on where your staff live they may not be able to access broadband speeds that enable them to do their job effectively eg rural broadband is often very slow.
The coronavirus pandemic has given some employers, that may not have otherwise considered working from home an option for staff, practical insight into how it affects their business and employees.
It has enabled employers to have first-hand experience of the advantages and disadvantages of home working. This experience can be very beneficial in feeding into the future direction of employees' working practices moving forward.
What Are The Benefits Of Working From Home?
Savings In Extra Expense
One of the advantages of remote working is the saving of extra expenses. In India, apart from rent, travelling is the second major expense for most employees. Also, employees spend extra in the office cafeterias, on petrol price, toll fees, and other miscellaneous items. With work from home, all such extra expenses have been limited.
Exclusion Of Commute Time
Travelling in metros takes a lot of time and energy. Employees who had to travel for a minimum of 2 hours or more on workdays used to feel drained on finally reaching the office. One of the advantages of working from home is doing away with travelling time.
This saves time and gives way to better productivity as you don’t need to travel to the office. For example, a task that used to take 4 days to complete on a normal office day, can be completed in less time when working from home.
Are You Tired Of Scams?
In a normal office environment, you find yourself switching between tasks a lot and getting many opinions on a task’s priority. But during remote working, with proper time management and discipline, you have more independence regarding your work. This can help you to add your flair to your work, prioritize your tasks, and take ownership of the tasks assigned to you.
Effective communication at the workplace requires clarity in context, active listening, etc. During the normal office days, you could communicate face-to-face which used to keep miscommunication at bay.
However, when working from home, you need to go the extra mile while communicating to keep the team updated about progress, hiccups, etc. so that the team can be on the same page in terms of work progress.
Depending majorly on telecommunication tools might seem like a disadvantage of remote working, but the regular use of communication tools helps in improving communication instead of relying on simply face-to-face communication.
One of the advantages of working from home is the absence of the usual office distractions. A quieter ambiance helps to get done with the work faster and more peacefully. All it requires is good time management and a To-Do list to keep track of priority tasks.
Another work from home advantage is work flexibility. Without having to travel for work, employees can save up a lot of time and work as per their most productive hours.
Work-from-home jobs can help to reduce the time it takes to get things done from 3 times to 2 times. Working from home in the UK is not the norm.
Benefits Of Remote Working For Employers
Not only employees, even employers have been party to the benefits of remote working. Here are some advantages of working from home for employers.
Broader Spectrum Of Recruitment
Many organizations prefer to hire candidates from the same city. However, with the current remote working situation, they can broaden their recruitment to different cities. This can naturally help companies to tap into sections they would otherwise overlook.
Higher Staff Retention
One of the benefits of working from home is employee satisfaction. Different employees find satisfaction in different things, for example, employees who had to commute to work are happy not to have to do so. Along with this, work flexibility and independence add to the work satisfaction of employees. Needless to say, employees prefer to stick to the company where they feel satisfied leading to higher staff retention.
During normal times, companies apart from paying their employees incurred several other expenses such as electricity, rent, maintenance costs of elevators and security systems, etc. So, it can be stated that one of the major benefits of working from home that companies have enjoyed is the reduction in extra costs.
Better Employee Productivity
With employees having to work from home with independence and flexibility, there is a rise in productivity amongst the workforce. This is one of the major benefits of remote working for companies. Business Line posted, SAP Concur conducted a study where 69% of Indian employees believe that their productivity has increased while working remotely.
Reduction In Leaves
Another advantage of remote working is that there is a reduction in employee leaves. With everyone back at home with their family, and no more travelling to work, employees are in a much more comfortable ambiance and less stressed and tired.
Working Remotely With Your Business
Remote working is about working anywhere outside the workplace – whether that’s home, a coffee shop, a co-working space, a library, a park or – if you’re lucky – a beach.
During the pandemic, office-based employees around the world suddenly found themselves hard at work at their dining tables, ironing boards or any flat surface they could find in their house or apartment. But remote working and working from home aren’t the same thing – there are lots of ways to work remotely.
As working from home allows you to work from wherever you want, you have the freedom to work at your pace. Whether you’re at home, in the office, or on the road, you can get your work done quickly and effortlessly. However, there are some disadvantages to working from home.
As you’ll be sitting at your own desk and surrounded by the things you like the most like a cup of coffee, a cat, or a dog, you have to be careful with your conduct and not disturb others. Also, you need to be open to making adjustments to your day so you can deal with any unexpected issues that crop up, such as a delayed conference call.
Growing Pains For Remote Workers
Let’s dig into one of my first, most significant growing pains after I started working from home. As I’ve mentioned before, switching from working in a corporate office environment to working remotely was a huge relief. While this change was certainly a crucial step towards a healthier, more balanced lifestyle, an equilibrium of all things personal and all things work-related wasn’t instantly created.
It would be fair to say that when I started working from home, I was a bit too focused on work. Home quickly became my prison and my computer the ball and chain. How did I end up in such a situation?
Well, I fell into this trap because I didn’t have all the right tools lined up at the start. More importantly, I failed to actually take some time to outline my own schedule. I know it sounds extremely ridiculous. Who fights for the freedom of telecommuting only to forfeit the vast majority of potential perks by staying home 24/7 glued to their computer working? Me. I did that.
So, for the bigger question – how did I get out of this humdrum existence? I began by improving my communication with those I work with. I posted general hours of availability and made sure to let my team know of any day-to-day changes in my schedule. I also got into the habit of setting alarms for myself, which helped me to keep track of my hours and know when to call it a day.
Next came retail therapy. As soon as my budget allowed for it, I went out and purchased a new computer. A small, lightweight, efficient, travel-friendly laptop to be used solely for work. With this, my office expanded to anywhere a WiFi connection was available. However, as work became more demanding, it was clear that my new computer wasn’t enough.
To stay connected and keep moving forward in developing a flexible schedule, I decided to upgrade my smartphone and add a mobile hotspot and high-quality earphones to my toolbox. Suddenly, my office had no boundaries.
I participated in team meetings while walking my dogs, put final touches on assignments at rest stops while road tripping around the country, and conducted research and ran reports while hanging out at a local park.
Remote work can be very beneficial to some people and companies, but there are some concerns and challenges that need to be addressed before working from home can be a viable option for businesses.
Working at home can also have its downside and challenges to overcome. Many organizations are not used to working with and managing people who don't come into the office and often struggle with this new type of working situation.
How To Maximize Remote Work?
Get Ready For Your Work Day. Dressing up is something that people do not bother about while working from home. Casual dress or pyjamas are great, and they give you comfort and a sense of freedom. But donning sweatpants may not help you to stay productive if you wear them for 48 hours straight.
Choose A Proper Home Office. You turn around and take a glimpse, thus creating a distraction. It is likely possible to happen every now and then if you choose a random spot to work. Distractions will flow in every way.
Install Quality Technology. As much as we love working at our own pace, a poor internet connection or an outdated system can get frustrating.
Maintain Consistent Working Hours. A general work-life balance is a very important factor when working from home. Your personal life is just as important as your professional life.
Eat And Sleep Right. Being on a healthy diet is very essential when you are a working person. Therefore, you must eat food that helps you function better instead of draining your energy.
Working from home should be encouraged because the advantages overcome the disadvantages. The office has no longer been the only workplace since many people are considering working from home.
Some may argue the majority of employees should change their workplace from office to home. No matter where you work, it's important to remain vigilant and ensure your health and safety when away from the office.
Letting your guard down once you're home can result in more work and stress as well as illnesses, falls, and accidents which can be costly and inconvenient. The most important thing is to remain vigilant when you are home and be sure to check on your work when you're away.
Remember to take regular breaks and avoid lifting heavy objects that could strain your body, even if it's in your yard. Planning your working hours in advance will help your business to make the most of the many potential benefits that working from home can bring.
I trust you enjoyed this article about the Advantages And Disadvantages Of Working From Home. Would you please stay tuned for more articles to come? Take care!
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