Working from home has many advantages for both employers and employees, but there can also be some pitfalls that both parties need to balance carefully. What once was more of a rare occurrence, is now becoming the norm, and it’s important that the benefits and disadvantages of remote working are considered when jobs are either being created or applied for.
Employers who can offer their employees the opportunity to work from home may find that they can scale back on office space and therefore reduce their overheads on rent and costs.
Arguably, there are distractions at home. There’s always a wash to put on or some cleaning to be done, but on the whole, most employees are very conscious that they need to prove that they are not slacking off, that they end up working harder and with longer hours. Whilst this can have a detrimental impact on the business long-term, in the short-term, it can create an increased output.
Difficulty with communication
Since the pandemic, advances in technology have had to be embraced and, whilst many companies have adopted some form of hybrid working, it hasn’t necessarily been straightforward. Many have found that teamwork and collaboration have become harder and that employees are lacking both work related and general conversation - It’s not as easy to chat with colleagues whilst making a coffee when you’re the only one in your kitchen!
Having employees working from home and potentially only seeing each other once a week can drastically impact the team motivation and morale. The lack of face-to-face time can also make it harder for junior members of staff to learn from and ask questions to those more experienced, which not only impacts their progression but also their sense of being part of a team.
Lack of commute
One of the biggest advantages for employees is the reduced commute, with some saving around 1.5 hours a day in travel time. Whether the time saved is used for going to the gym, spending time with family, or sleeping in for longer is entirely up to the individual, but it can help reduce stress and generally improve well-being. Also, if the commute is only from the bedroom to the home office, there’s a substantial saving on fuel costs too!
If employees are not restricted to the office “9-5” hours and the additional commute on either side, they might have more flexibility as to their working hours. Most employers have taken a relaxed stance as to the actual hours worked, providing they are kept up to date and the work is completed, which can allow employees to pop to the shop during the working day or have a longer lunch break if needed; both of which can increase morale.
Whilst some employees are fortunate enough to have a separate home office, some need to work from their dining room table or bedroom, so it can be difficult to separate work and leisure time. The lack of separation can not only impact mental health but can also cause difficulties ‘switching off’ as the lines between work time and home time can become increasingly blurred. Whilst that might be great for employers, arguably they’re getting more time out of their employees without paying them more, the consequence on their overall health and wellbeing could be drastic.
Increased electricity bills
It turns out, opening the fridge every five seconds for snacks adds up and many have found that their bills have increased since working from home. Of course, the added electricity costs of powering laptops, heating and lighting which previously would have been footed by the employer has also increased employees’ bills.
There are pros and cons of working from home for both employers and employees, and it is vital that a balance is sought if the arrangement is going to work effectively for both parties. Employers might need to be more flexible and implement different arrangements for different people as we are unlikely to see a reverse where office working fully returns, and so, they should focus on optimising the arrangements they have in place.