The Covid-19 outbreak led to a rapid shift to working from home for many occupations.

In this latest blog post, Alexandra Lichtenfeld,  Owner of Client Matters,  discusses why some people support working remotely, whilst some are strongly opposed to it, but whichever way you look at it, working from home is going to remain.

Weighing the pros and cons of working from home can help you decide if it is best for you. However, you won’t always have a choice and you may have a bigger decision to make in the long run.

As valuable and productive as remote working seems, depending on your work style, level of discipline and cultural priorities it may not work for you.

I have mentored clients who previously worked in an office space but have changed to remote working due to one or more reasons. Some have absolutely thrived on it and others have struggled to the extent they have had to look for office-based jobs.

Here are some pros and cons … you decide!

Pros of working from home

Working from home has become prevalent and there are seemingly endless reasons like health issues, the cost of commuting and limited office space that make it a viable option for a business. Advantages of working from home include:

  • Less commuting, less stress, fewer expenses

It saves you the cost of transportation, other travelling expenses and might also cut down the amount you’d spend on work clothes. Remote working may help parents reduce the cost of childcare as they would have more time to look after their children instead of paying people to do it for them.

  • Improves work-life balance

Remote working allows you to build your work schedule around your personal life creating a work-life balance that enables you to take care of essential tasks that benefit your home and your lifestyle without affecting your productivity at work.

  • Fewer distractions

Side-talks from co-workers, ringing phones and office equipment noise that you cannot control may interrupt your focus at work. You are also free from office-related stress, interruptions and other challenges that may hinder your productivity. Although there might be distractions at home you can control them, unlike the ones from the office.

  • Increased productivity

Working independently in a distraction-free environment can increase your productivity while allowing you to take breaks and walk around whenever you feel the need in your own time frame.

  • More independence

Working at offices may require you to follow specific routines every day, not allowing you to make changes on days you really feel like you need to. Working from home can be a major turnaround from this. At home, you can finally make some decisions on your own, boosting your confidence and improving your productivity. Although, it might be necessary to practise self-motivation and discipline to manage your time and complete your tasks.

  • Improved technical skills

Working remotely requires you to use tools, such as Skype, Teams, Zoom and other communication platforms for collaboration in addition this, working from home means you have to improve your general technical skills for all communication.

  • Improved work flexibility

Remote working allows for a lot of flexibility that is not strictly governed and may allow you to carry out other activities. Remote working also allows you to work to your own productive hours, in your preferred attire and build a workflow that is best for you.

  • Reduces work absenteeism

Fatigue, sickness or having to attend to more pressing issues are the principal causes of employees’ absence from work. Since working from home offers flexibility and meetings are not physical, it allows you to attend to matters without having to be marked absent from work. Less commuting also reduces fatigue.

  • Increases job satisfaction

Being allowed to work remotely and given a certain amount of autonomy that may give you a feeling of satisfaction because of the flexibility and independent decision making that comes with it. All these remote working advantages can have a direct influence on overall job satisfaction.

Cons of working from home

Working from home also has its drawbacks socially and mentally. Increased poor mental health and well-being can be caused by isolation. While discipline and appropriate scheduling is great for some employees, others might find it too difficult. Disadvantages of working from home include:

  • Less workplace connection and isolation

Remote working results in less face time between you and your co-workers. It can also lead to reduced communication and not having immediate access to information. It also causes boredom, as you are alone most of the time. You can avoid too much loneliness by building a schedule around your work that supports outings or events with family and friends. Some offices may also organise regular team events to encourage socialisation.

  • Lack of skills learning

One of the greatest drawbacks of working from home is innate learning. Working from home not only isolates you but it also stops you from learning from your colleagues. Hearing other conversations, picking up nuances, understanding the business and simply learning from your peers just doesn’t happen. The knock on effect of this is a generation of adults who do not know how to communicate properly or even worse, they are scared of picking up a phone and talking!

  • Temptation to overwork

Working from home may put you at risk of overworking. When you work from home and don’t lay out your schedules properly, there can be fewer distinctions between work and personal life. You can overcome this temptation by defining your schedule and allocating distinct times for your job and personal life.

  • Cost of equipment

Working from home requires using equipment like webcams, software, headsets and other tools to stay connected to others from your workplace and carry out important projects. You may also need a chair, a desk and other furniture for comfortability. Purchasing and setting up this equipment in your home might be a little costly. You can keep your costs low by limiting your purchase to the necessary tools you need to perform your tasks. Although it should be the responsibility of the company you work for to supply/pay for these costs, some do not!

  • Home distractions

Televisions, pets, noises from traffic, household chores and children can be a source of distraction at home. Being distracted can affect your concentration, decreasing your productivity. Again, you can limit distractions by having a workspace and making it as far from distractions as possible. Using noise-cancelling headphones to play music may help filter out sounds from traffic and other sources. Of course you may be limited to the workspace you can create due to lack of space and this can contribute to a feeling of being closed in!

  • Over-dependence on technology

Another downside to remote working is full-time dependence on technology. Without an Internet connection, you may not work as expected. Your gadgets may also develop issues you might not be able to fix yourself. All these slow down work and can keep you behind schedule, decreasing your overall productivity creating a sense of failure and sometimes despair.

The take-home from all of this is quite simple…working from home is not for everyone and businesses and individuals should bear this in mind. All businesses should consider very carefully with a lot of discussion who works from home and who doesn’t. This means a business might have to understand their employees a little better, talk with them a little longer and take some time getting to know them. They are your investment and you should invest time in them!

Individual employees should consider what is best for them and how to manage this if they feel working from home is not an option.

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