While some companies are trying to bring their teams fully back to the office, others are attempting to implement a 100% remote work model. But perfection doesn’t exist. Everything in life has good and bad sides. As experts in flexible work, we have analyzed the pros and cons of working from home (WFH).
Returning to a traditional work model in which team members come on-site daily is a risky move as it no longer meets employees’ expectations. But having a full remote schedule can also lead to negative outcomes such as isolation and workplace disconnection.
So what are you supposed to do? Is it worth it to let your staff work from home? What are the upsides and downsides for your company and your employees?
Let’s dig into the advantages and disadvantages of the home office and define how you can benefit from remote work while still enjoying the perks of working in the physical workplace.
The pros and cons of working from home from an employee perspective
The pros of working from home
How often do you think about all the things you could have done without the one hour you spent commuting to the office? How many parents have felt frustrated when coming home late and unable to spend time with their kids before they go to sleep?
When working from home, team members can create a workspace that matches their needs and makes them thrive.
Moreover, they are less exposed to distractions than they might be in the office. For example, nobody is going to interrupt them to talk about how cool the last corporate event was.
Lastly, if both remote work and flexi time are allowed, people can manage their working hours autonomously and therefore, work when they are the most productive.
The home office is a form of employee empowerment. You give your workforce the power to handle their schedules and be more autonomous.
If you succeed in doing this without falling into micromanagement practices, letting your staff work from home is also proof of your trust in them and their work.
Ultimately, this can foster healthier relationships between leaders and team members as well as boost motivation and engagement.
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Public transport and traffic jams are a big source of stress and anxiety for workers. So, working from home benefits your staff’s mental health because it reduces commuting.
Another explanation is that some personalities, like introverts, for example, would rather work at home alone than in a workspace full of people and activities. Such environments increase their stress level and impact their productivity.
For these people, the home office has been one of the best things that could happen for their mental health.
Flexibility and autonomy
WFH also gives them so much more flexibility and autonomy over their schedule. This is a common expectation from Millennials and Gen Z, representing the largest demographic groups in the workplace.
Your employees can avoid commuting and use this extra free time for other activities. They might start working earlier to finish on time to meet their friends after work, or later because they have an important appointment in the morning.
Paying for commuting expenses or providing a meal allowance is another benefit you can give your WFH employees. Whether they come on-site by car or by public transport, commuting expenses are a cost that lowers their buying power.
The same goes for the money they spend for their lunch when working on-site or each time they use the coffee machine. Saving up on these expenditures by working from home while enjoying a good homemade cup of coffee is certainly an opportunity they won’t say no to.
Working from home also has some downsides. Remote work automatically means fewer in-person interactions. Some employees can start feeling lonely and sometimes even abandoned by their manager and the organization.
Without the company making an effort to maintain a bond between team members and boost collaboration, the risk of isolation is real and shouldn’t be underestimated.
If not equipped with the right material, collaborating successfully becomes challenging, and the risks of miscommunication increase. Frustration might also arise if workers don’t have access to the resources they need or get the answers to their questions as fast as when on-site.
Micromanagement isn’t the only contributor to burnout in a remote work environment, the lack of boundaries between professional and private life can also be overwhelming.
For some employees, this issue comes from struggling to switch off from work in general. Working from home makes it even worse as our personal space also becomes our workspace.
For others, there might be pressure to work extra to prove they are really working, as nobody is with them to witness it.
Working from home undoubtedly means your staff is more likely to see an increase in their energy consumption on their bills. For example, they might have to heat up their apartment much more than when they spend every day in the office. Their electricity consumption also increases as they have to charge their work equipment. If you don’t offer a stipend for this, it can become quite challenging for some of them at the end of the month.
✂️ Are your employees asking you if they can get some tax advantages by working from home? Find the answer in our article about remote work tax deduction!
The benefits and disadvantages of home office from an employer point of view
The benefits of home office
Employee satisfaction and happiness
The pros of working from home aren’t limited to your workforce, you can benefit from this way of working too.
Because flexible work arrangements have become one of the top priorities for most generations in the workplace, allowing WFH helps you meet their expectations.
Not only does it boost employee satisfaction, but it also increases happiness in the workplace. And as we know: “Happy employees are productive employees!”
Talent retention and attraction
The happier workers are, the more they tend to stay, and the more the workplace becomes appealing to new talent. Therefore, another benefit of allowing remote work is its impact on talent retention and attraction.
A report from Remote.co reveals that “63% of those surveyed would ‘absolutely’ look for a new job if they couldn’t continue to work remotely”.
Productivity and performance
We have already talked to you about the link between employee happiness and productivity. As remote work contributes to making your staff happier and more satisfied with their job, it also boosts their productivity.
This is due to a combination of several factors. For instance, people can focus better at home, have a greater work-life balance, are less stressed, and so on.
Your team members might be able to minimize their expenses thanks to home office, but so can you. There are multiple areas in your workplace where remote work can help lower company costs.
For example, fewer people in the physical work environment at the same time means you can probably downsize your office space. If not, you have some other cost-saving opportunities. Your energy bills are more likely to decrease, for instance.
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Do you aim to implement sustainability in your business? Offering flexible work arrangements to your staff is a great way to lower your carbon impact and theirs too.
First, less commuting means less pollution. Second, fewer people in the office results in a decrease in energy consumption. Third, shifting your working model allows you to make some adjustments like introducing a BYOD policy, for example.
The disadvantages of letting your staff work remotely
Maintaining a strong corporate culture gets more difficult when employees meet and interact only a few days a week or a month. The atmosphere in the office itself also contributes to developing and reinforcing your company’s culture.
Without focusing on this crucial aspect, the initial workplace connection might weaken. Organizational culture requires time and effort, and this is even more true in a remote work model. This is definitely a new challenge for HR teams to tackle.
Disengagement and disconnection
WFH also increases the risk of your staff losing the feeling of belonging and the connection that links them to their job and the company.
Getting motivated can also be harder when working alone at home than when surrounded by colleagues. Lastly, if remote workers are micromanaged or do not feel supported, they can lose track of their professional purpose and become less enthusiastic about doing their job.
Again, maintaining a strong corporate culture and enhancing team bonding is key to avoiding employee disengagement and disconnection.
Are your team members avoiding virtual meetings? Do they complain about being online all the time? Working remotely implies doing everything digitally, whereas on-site, you can rest from screens during in-person gatherings.
This is called virtual or Zoom fatigue. This downside of remote work affects both employees and employers as it can lead to mental and physical exhaustion.
Remote work has amazing advantages, including the opportunity for businesses to have a more people-centric approach and boost employee experience. However, it also has some drawbacks that you shouldn’t ignore if you want to benefit from the perks of flexible work.
Knowing the pros and cons of working from home is key to understanding where to focus your efforts and creating a thriving, healthy, and attractive work environment. Finding the right equilibrium between home office and a full on-site model, as well as listening to your workforce’s needs, is essential. For most businesses, working hybrid helps make the most of both working styles.
Does managing a hybrid workforce and workspace seem too complicated for you? Are you wondering how to run a flexible office successfully and get the best out of it? Try out the deskbird app and discover how to make your business and your staff thrive!
Paulyne is a hybrid work specialist, who writes about sustainability, flexible work models and employee experience.