The whole world is now tilting to working from home, thanks to the pandemic. We have now been exposed to the possibility of getting work done together even without meeting each other.
Recently I heard of an entire company with over 900 staff and no physical office yet still working fine. And with the strong influence of books like The Four Hour Work Week, the idea of working from home only gets stronger.
But what benefits or disadvantages does this new trend hold for both the workers and the companies? Is it all bliss, that everyone should jump on without giving a second thought, or is it outright wrong?
Like everything else, working from home comes with some benefits and disadvantages. I will be highlighting some of them here.
Advantages of Working From Home
This is the most obvious benefit of working from home. You can set up the environment to suit your taste and working conditions at different times. You can gather as many tools as you want, and arrange them as you want, based on what you feel will be best for you at any moment as against the rigid environment an office provides.
To put it in simple words, working from home makes you feel at home.
2. It is economical
Working from home saves the company the cost of setting up office space and saves the workers the cost of transportation. Except for companies that cater for the commuting of their staff, a large percentage of workers’ salary, which can be diverted to other important things, is spent on transportation.
Also, if the company invests the huge amount spent on real estate, let’s say on advertising, that means more profit for the business.
3. It balances work and social life
Some offices have strict rules of workers not receiving visitors during work hours but people who work from home are not bound by that rule. Staying behind a desk from 9 to 5 and even longer for some corporations, severely limits the worker of some ‘spare’ time to attend to other social functions which they can easily squeeze in if they were working from home.
4. Unnecessary office rules are avoided
Working from an office means the workers will have to work under some ‘office/work ethics’, some of which are not necessary. Dress codes, office arrangements, and other things that do not actively contribute to productivity can easily be put aside while the workers focus on what really matters.
5. More work can be done
Time saved from commuting, adjusting to the environment, and setting up a work environment will amount to more work if it was all invested in actively doing work. In very congested commercial cities like Bengaluru, India, and Lagos, commuters spend as much as 3 hours stuck in traffic every day.
Also, since work is done at home, there are no ‘office hours’, the worker is always in the ‘office’, and can work as long as they want to produce more results than the office hours will allow.
6. It gives extra health benefits
Consumption of fast food, the stress from hectic commuting, and exposure to industrial hazards are some of the possible damages that can affect the health of workers gathering in a ‘working environment’.
This is not to say working from home is totally free from health hazards, but since the worker is more used to their homes, they can control the environment for improved health.
7. It saves from toxic work environment
Some offices don’t provide the right psychological environment for increased productivity. From hostile colleagues to demanding bosses, or harsh social pressure the conventional working environment exposes one to, workers will be at a greater advantage working from home.
8. It gives more family time
The rise of neglected families due to parents spending all their time at work is no longer news. Working from home, on the other hand, gives parents time to still relate with their children.
Disadvantages of Work From Home
Work from home, if not properly managed, robs the worker of the opportunity to absolutely focus on work. Although bringing ease for the worker, some of the benefits highlighted can be disadvantages to the work being done. More family time will mean less work being done, for instance.
2. No accountability
Except there is strict virtual supervision, which most times there isn’t, working from home will not give as much output as would have been gotten working in a conventional working environment. Although it is possible to hold oneself accountable, most people won’t put so much input into the work if there is no external source of accountability.
3. Reduced socialization
The process of commuting, going to a restaurant at lunch, and the office environment in itself, help workers meet new people and socialize, which will in turn increase their productivity in the job. Working from home, on the other hand, limits the worker to only the relationships they have around them. There are slimmer chances of meeting new people working from home.
4. No ready team available
Workers will have to send emails or establish some sort of connection (at extra cost) to communicate with their team virtually. This, although it can serve the purpose of communication, does not give the bond that physical communication brings. Making a zoom call cannot be like rolling your chair and talking to the person at the desk behind you.
5. Easy loss of motivation
Because there is no physical community, it might seem one is alone on the work, while working from home. If this is so and a daunting task is faced, the worker can get easily discouraged from their lack of progress. This is against the presence of a physical companion cheering on the worker in the case of working in the conventional working environment.
6. No work mindset
Lastly, working in a conventional work environment gives a mindset that pushes the worker to work. A practical example of this was manifested while I was writing this article. It took about four hours to write the benefits of work from home, writing on my bed, but once I left my bed and took work seriously, I finished the article in less than twenty minutes.
If I were in an office environment, who knows if it would have taken even less. Anyway, that’s just a clear example of what being in a work environment can do, and that’s what an office environment provides.
Working from home or the conventional work environment holds both benefits and disadvantages, the choice of which one will be best will depend on the nature of the work, the worker, and other factors exclusive to individuals compared to the benefits and disadvantages. Working from home benefits the worker more, while working in an office benefits the work more.