Before the pandemic, remote working was far from the norm in the UK. However, since the start of COVID-19, the number of people working from home has increased dramatically.
More and more employers are starting to adopt hybrid working. So… what are the advantages and disadvantages of allowing employees to work from home?
Pro: Working from home provides a better work-life balance
Studies have shown that the flexibility working from home offers has been found to provide workers with a better work-life balance. According to a study, 50% of respondents named flexible scheduling as the main benefit of working from home.
One of the biggest remote working benefits is that individuals can structure their workdays in a way that assists their productivity. Working from home allows them to enjoy their lives outside of the usual restricting 9-to-5. It is also easier for individuals with responsibilities such as families and pets as they are not confined to an office all day.
Con: Communication and collaboration can become challenging
It can be hard to achieve an effective form of communication with colleagues when you are based in different locations. This could be due to multiple factors including Wifi, timings, and miscommunication. It is for this reason that there must be tools and a thought-out and intentional strategy in place. This is important as team members need to be able to communicate effectively.
Pro: Employees will demonstrate greater productivity
A study has found that 55% of people reported that they were able to concentrate more whilst working from home. Individuals have reported working from home increases productivity, allows for better focus, and decreases stress. Remote working allows for less distraction than would be found in an office, such as background noise or interruptions from colleagues.
Con: Remote working can become lonely
For those that live alone or spend a large period of the day on their own, remote working can create feelings of isolation and loneliness. This can often impact negatively on mental health and productivity. It Is important to carve out time for social interaction, even if it isn’t face-to-face.
Pro: Removal of a daily commute
Working from home removes the hassle of commuting as it avoids stressful situations such as traffic or public transportation issues. It has been shown by studies that commuting negatively impacts health and happiness. The time saved commuting can be used to do more worthwhile things which will most likely also improve an individual’s well-being.
Con: Difficulty to separate work from home
Employees working from home may find it difficult to disconnect from work as it’s easier to overwork. Additionally, working in the same environment as you live may make it harder to distinguish your place of work from home and the line that separates them. For some individuals, it becomes increasingly difficult to switch off as they do not have the start work at 9 and clock off at 5 structure. There can be an increased risk of overworking. Telecommuting also comes with the risk of working longer than you should. This can definitely lead to burn-out and increased work-related stress. You can also get very easily distracted by television, pets etc which can result in reduced productivity.
Pro: Reduced stress and anxiety and improved health
A study has highlighted that 32% of respondents felt working from home reduced stress and anxiety. The pressure of having to go out to work every day can be overwhelming for some individuals, particularly those already struggling with pre-existing mental health conditions.
The ability for employees to set their schedule allows them to manage their workload in a way that suits them. It also allows them to make time for regular breaks. Not only does this increase productivity but removes some of the work pressures we face every day.
Con: Increased risk to your physical health
Studies have shown that working from home can also affect your physical well being too and not having the correct office set up could lead to health risks such as:
- Musculoskeletal pain from a not-quite-right desk set-up, unsupportive chair.
- Eye strain caused by reduced visual breaks as remote workers have virtual team meetings resulting in longer screen time.
Whilst working from home has many benefits, it also comes with an equal amount of challenges. Balance seems to be the key to remote working, depending on who an individual is as a person and the industry they work in.
Are you are considering allowing employees to work from home or a hybrid working structure for your business? If so, it would be wise to conduct a survey and gather employee opinions on the matter. Furthermore, it would be advisable to hold a trial period to see if this style of working is more beneficial to your business and the industry you are in.