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Working from home? Examining the arguments

Working from home

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Working from home can bring new opportunities and benefits for both the employer and the employee. They can mould their work schedule around other responsibilities, such as childcare. But despite the comfort of working in your own home, there are many potential issues with remote working. Missing out on the support of colleagues and managers, for example, can cause issues. Below, we’ve discussed the key arguments for and against home working.

Advantages of working from home

Reduction in commuting time
Cutting out travel time is one of the biggest benefits for employees working from home. Commuting takes up a lot of time that could otherwise be spent working. In addition, the average UK commuter will spend over £135,000 by the time they retire. That’s enough money to buy 849 Wimbledon final tickets. Employees who work from home can save massively on train fares, which may make them less inclined to ask for a wage increase to cover travel expenses.

Less stressful environment
The office can be a very stressful place. Stepping away from that environment can allow you to prioritise your own work, reducing stress. For many, working from home removes certain problems encountered in the office. At home, you are in full control of your environment and can work at a pace that suits you. You can better manage your stress levels, which can lead to increased job satisfaction.

More productivity
According to a survey done by Bristol-based company Canada Life Group, homeworkers rank their productivity at 7.7 out of 10, compared with a score of 6.5 for office workers. Also, studies have shown it can take 20 minutes to regain concentration after you have been distracted – we all know how loud and distracting offices can get sometimes. Home workers can create a quiet, comfortable space for working.

Improved employee retention
Working from home can offer greater flexibility. Many employers see home working as an attractive perk of their jobs, which means they are less likely to quit. If an employee can work from home, they can juggle their responsibilities better and improve their work-life balance, which may boost morale. Also, by having remote workers, companies can hire quality candidates no matter where they are.

Disadvantages of working from home

Loss of management and company culture
When an employee works from home, it can become difficult for a company to manage the individual and monitor their performance. All the standard strategies of management will be out the window with a remote team. A company would have to think beyond traditional modes of management to keep their employees accountable. Companies may find it harder to create a company culture when employers are working remotely. Software company Status Page said their company culture suffered, due to having a remote team. Relationships can be harder to form and camaraderie may suffer. This could lead to a weak company culture.

Need for high self-discipline
There is a huge amount of self-discipline needed to work at home. How you fare with motivating yourself greatly depends on your personality. Employees can essentially do what they want with their time. It’s much easier for your attention to wane when there isn’t a manager to keep an eye on you. Also, with no managers assessing performance, this might reduce the quality of the work. An employee must motivate themselves to stay focused and work in their home environment.

Alienation from company developments
Working away from the office without access to colleagues can be isolating for an employee. There’s a great deal of information they will miss out on, alienating an individual from their team. When you give up the office, you also give up team developments, morning meetings, and company updates. Since you are not physically present, you will have to be resourceful when connecting with people and staying in touch with colleagues. Home workers will need to be creative to overcome social isolation. Also, companies must have procedures in place to ensure the well-being of its employees who work alone.

Lack of face-to-face communication
Some conversations require a physical interaction. If an employee is facing a significant issue, it can be impractical to solve it over the phone. Having to keep talking over the phone could increase telephone or broadband bills for both the company and the employer. There are instant messaging apps, video calls, and of course email, but none of these compete with real-world conversations.

Splitting the time between home and the workplace equally is the best solution to overcoming the disadvantages. Companies should strive to keep their employees involved and inform them about upcoming meetings or social events that they can attend. Remote teams won’t work for every business, but it remains something worth considering.

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