The term ‘working from home’ has had a significant impact on the lives of millions across the world. The outbreak of the Coronavirus pandemic this year brought everything to a sudden halt. From daily commutes to big glittering malls, everything got stopped and closed. The offices were no exception either. Big or small, they all were forced to close. And for sometime, nobody had an idea on what next, until they got to know about the immense potential of remote work & remote job.
Here we are now, hoping for this pandemic to get over and for normalcy to set in. But would Work From Home (WFH) or working remotely from home keep its place in the new normal? 69% of the millennials say they would trade other benefits for flexible work options including remote work. Impressive, isn’t it? Indeed it is, but is it all rainbows and sunshine? Well, this is exactly what the blog answers! Here you would get the complete picture, with all the major advantages and disadvantages of working remotely from home. This would help you make the right decision on whether to fully accept remote work or not going forward. So, without any further ado, let’s get started!
Real Quick- Working Remotely. What does it really mean?
2020 has created a remote work revolution all over the planet. It has drastically changed the traditional workplace culture, and working remotely from home has become normal now. But what does it really mean? Well, it is a new way of working that connects employees, business members through telecommuting, and advanced technology. You can connect with your team members or your employees from the comfort of your home without sacrificing your work performance. Yes, if the technology is good, there would be no loss of productivity and performance!
Also, working remotely doesn’t necessarily mean that you or your employees have to work from home only. Under normal circumstances, a remote job is something that doesn’t require a person in an office every day. He is given the flexibility to work from anywhere he wants. So, now you know what ‘working remotely’ really means. But is it a new innovation in our workspace? The next section answers that!
Is It a New Innovation or Has It Been There For Long?
No, it’s not. The concept of working from home has been there since 1973 when Jack Nilles coined the term “telecommuting” in his book, the Telecommunication-Transportation tradeoff. But it was first practiced in 1979 when IBM allowed five of its employees to work from home as an experiment. Since then, it has evolved massively and the startup culture played a huge role in that. How? By asking their initial employees to work from home, or their own space, as most founders couldn’t afford offices!
This upsurge in remote workers called for proper legislation, and in the year 2000, working remotely was legitimized which mandated companies to create telecommuting policies. The culture of working remotely from the comfort of your space just took off from thereon, and over 59% of remote workers were working for big private firms. Companies who initially hadn’t considered this seriously changed their stance, and working remotely from home started getting even more steam. According to Getapp, the number of people working from home has risen by 400% since 2010! Staggering numbers, these are. But that’s the level of popularity this work culture has garnered in just two decades.
But if remote work is such a brilliant concept, then why did companies waited for a global pandemic to shift to this? The answer lies in the next sections, where I talk about both sides of the coin, the pros as well as the cons.
Advantages & Disadvantages You Must be Aware of While Working Remotely
There are definite perks of working in a remote job, no doubts. But there’s some skepticism too because of the other side of the remote work culture. Now, the pandemic forced almost every organization, big or small, to completely shift to working remotely from home. Few adapted really well, while few didn’t. Why? The reasons are many. Some are borne out of the traditional mentality of leaders & managers, where they just couldn’t get comfortable with the prospect of letting their employees work remotely. This becomes surprising if we consider the fact that 81% of employees said that the option to work from home would make them more likely to recommend their employer to potential talents they know. But most importantly, it’s advised to run a survey like this one to ensure that your employees are on the right track..
This employee work from home survey was created using SurveySparrow. To create similar online surveys, you can sign up on SurveySparrow for free.
There are other loopholes of this work culture also, but ‘work from home’ is here to stay and these loopholes can be fixed in the time to come. Let’s analyze remote work in terms of all its advantages and disadvantages for an organization, and a leader like you. And even if you’re not in a leadership position at present, you would understand exactly why your manager is adopting this in your organization and why not. I feel this clarity would help every single employee to do their jobs better, and that’s a win-win for everyone, right? Great! We’ll start with the pros then.
The Advantages of Working Remotely Are:
- You can hire talent from around the world with just no restrictions and complications.
- You and your employees get more time as there’s no time wasted on commute.
- Your employees get the flexibility they want with their work.
- The business expenses are substantially lowered with a work from home culture.
- Less commute and less office use would lead to less carbon emission.
- Employees face fewer distractions while working from home or their space, which increases their productivity multifold.
- With the work from home structure, employee retention increases, as they are satisfied and happy with their work and environment.
- Your teams are better prepared for any disaster if they’re working remotely from home.
Quite a few advantages, eh? But wait, let me also talk about the disadvantages or the loopholes of this system.
The Disadvantages of Working Remotely Are:
- Employees are facing huge communication problems while working remotely from home.
- It is less suitable for positions that require the use of immovable & specialized equipment.
- The networking opportunities for your employees are almost none.
- It becomes hard for you, as a leader, to evaluate your employee’s work & productivity.
- Some employees even feel overlooked and isolated, and it becomes really hard to build a team spirit when your teams are working from home.
- Coordinating on everyone’s suitable timeline becomes a big problem.
- Working from home takes a big toll on your team’s mental health.
- There’s no organizational culture while working remotely from home.
There you go. I’ve painted the complete picture for you. As you can see, there are great positives and the potential is clearly there, but we can’t ignore the negatives also. This is because if you, as a leader or a manager, would want to adopt the remote work concept going forward, you have to think towards nullifying the disadvantages first. And that’s where the next section would help you, as I’ve listed the only 3 advantages and disadvantages that you need to think clearly if you’re planning to shift to this new way of working!
The Three Main Advantages of Working Remotely
This was a big task, as the advantages are so many. But I’ve picked those which would have the biggest impact on any organization’s future. So, let’s jump right into it.
Hiring Global Talents Without Any Problem
This is a big one and one which gives substantial weight to the prospect of adopting remote work as the new way of working! Just imagine, you can hire talented professionals for your team without having to worry about their visa, passport, or whether they would fit in the new environment or not. And that’s big troubles off your head! Working remotely eliminates hiring borders and brings more diversity to your team. Another stat that would work in your favour is that 99% of employees want to work remotely at some point in their careers. So, finding the right talent globally who wants to with your team won’t be a big task. And that’s super impressive!
Low Business Expenses
Organizations, no matter if they are a conglomerate or not, invest massively in their infrastructure and offices. The powerful technology, perfect ambiance, thoughtfully designed work areas cost a lot. Based on estimates from the Global Workplace Analytics Telework Savings Calculator, a single company can save $11,000 per remote worker annually who telecommutes 50% of the time. And if only a part of this saving is used to provide quality employee experience using SurveySparrow’s 360 assessment software, the results would be amazing for the organization.
Increased Productivity & Decreased Attrition
Remote workers are nothing but a bunch of lazy pseudo-professionals. That was the common notion about working remotely from home a few years back. But now, especially because of the pandemic, this thinking has completely changed. In fact, traditional leaders who didn’t like the remote work culture are forced to think again. As people working from home have shown to be more productive than before. And it’s mainly due to the autonomy remote workers enjoy, leading to reduced workplace distractions and more freedom to work during hours they find most productive. Evidence of this is well documented in a 2020 Airtasker survey report of 1,004 worker’s daily habits. The survey showed that while remote employees spent more time taking breaks throughout the workday, they also devoted more time to work tasks. And as a manager or a leader, that’s what really matters, right?
If your employees are happy working the way they deem right while staying close to their families, why would they want to join a new setup? They would want to grow in the same work culture, as this is giving them satisfaction, enough time, and happiness. So, the attrition would obviously be less here. And that’s a big boon for the leaders, because finding and replacing right talent is an arduous task that takes a lot of time and focus of your team. All of which, could be put to doing productive work every day. Food for thought, isn’t it?
The Three Main Disadvantages of Working Remotely
it’s time to talk about the other side of the work from home story, and we’ll discuss the 3 main challenges it would pose for leaders if fully adopted in the new normal.
The Huge Communication Problem
One of the biggest challenges you’ll face while working remotely from home is the lack of face-to-face interactions. Most human communications are done just using our body language. Words definitely play a significant role, but expressive body languages are essential too, which is just not possible in this work culture.
Talking about technology, it is the heart of every remote team. A remote worker blindly depends on technology to work and communicate effectively. But difficulties in setting up and using technologies are a common issue while working remotely from home. Virtual meetings across different countries in different time zones can create a lot of havoc! And this year, more than half of the remote workers admitted that they feel disconnected from the rest because of that. Point to deeply ponder!
Yes, it becomes extremely hard for a leader or manager to evaluate and supervise his team’s work, as there’s no one-on-one interaction between them. They’re mostly interacting with each other either over a mail or through a video conference, which isn’t enough! And this makes it difficult for the employees to prove that they’re being productive while working remotely from home. This could lead to a drop their motivation to work efficiently, thereby affecting the productivity. There have been some cases this year, that has proven this to be a legitimate disadvantage of working remotely from home. So, serious brainstorming needs to be done by the leaders to find a lasting solution here.
Mental Health of Your Employees
A survey conducted by Flexjobs stated that before the crisis, 5% of employed and 7% of unemployed workers said they have poor mental health. And now, 18% of the employed employees and 27% of unemployed employees said they are suffering from a poor mental health condition. This simply can’t be ignored. Employees are clearly showing signs of burn out and mental fatigue because of the isolation & lack of connection they’re facing due to working remotely. Human beings are social animals, and we all need to feel that togetherness to keep our minds healthy, which is missing in the work from home or the remote job culture. And if working remotely from home is the future, a solution need to be found for this.
Core Questions To Help You Set a Remote Work Policy For Your Team
This becomes a crucial step to cover, if you want to successfully transition and adopt a work from home culture for your team and organization. Because without such policy, the cons would slowly outweigh the pros, eventually hurting the prospect of sustained growth.
So, if you’re ready for the transition, here are some core questions that would help you set the ground rules for your team to work from home effectively.
- What are the work timings?
- How will working hours be tracked?
- How would the work be carried out? The exact structure?
- How will your team handle collaborative projects?
- How will your team maintain the right communication with each other?
- What technological support and equipment is needed and who will provide it?
- If some time needs to be spent in office every week, how would that be tracked?
- What networks and company data should be accessible remotely?
- How would you evaluate your team’s performance?
There you go. I’m sure these would set you on the right track towards forming a policy that can bring out the best results for your organization.
From top to the bottom, from the past till the present and even the future, I’ve discussed everything about this new way of working with you. The intention behind talking about the advantages & disadvantages was to give you a complete knowledge about the reality of work form home. Why? So that the final decision you make on whether to completely adopt to this or not is a better informed one. All that’s left now is for you to do your due-diligence and make the final call! And I’ll be waiting to hear from you about that.