The COVID-19 pandemic shifted away from the normalcy of things. Expected way of life, work, health etc. were all dismantled with new modes of being. There were many significant changes that came about with the pandemic. A major one of them was also regarding work. Working from home became a norm. Earlier, it was believed that working from home was something only freelancing entailed. However, the pandemic forced companies to switch stations and allow employees to work from home, keeping their health interests while also the interests of the company in mind. We see many instances of work practices switching as a result of this. For some people this model worked and for some it did not. We are here to delve a little deeper to understand the advantages of work from home as well as its disadvantages so that you may understand what could be better for you!
Flexible and Agile Schedule while Working from Home
Working from home has allowed more flexibility and agility in work arrangements. Since the structure of the office is limited to the scenes, employees are in a better position to adjust their work timings and deliver tasks largely upon their own discretion. Employees also have the option to take breaks between tasks, have snacks to build that energy in between tasks and talk to family members on particularly rough days. As a whole it allows for more time to spend on oneself, work in ways that won’t drive one to the ground and allows employees to incorporate more work in their schedules.
Increased Productivity while Working from Home
A physical office environment is not privy to disruptions and interruptions. Working from home then becomes a welcome change. Employees do not have to indulge in long travel hours to reach their offices, which itself reduces time and energy. Working from home also allows for a quieter atmosphere to work in. The increase in productivity can also be seen in relation to the ability to move around, set your own time for tasks and take short breaks when required. Such settings also allow you to develop your own ways to ensure motivation and reduce risks of burnout.
One of the biggest advantages of working from home is the monetary savings. Working from home allows a significant amount of cost cutting. Costs which would usually be incurred on travelling, eating out and ordering at work etc. are largely reduced due to a work from home arrangement. Saving on fuel and other transport maintenance costs is another advantage. Some other expenses such as those incurred on work clothing are also significantly reduced by working from home. For working parents, this also significantly reduces the cost of childcare and other such concerns. Working from home also allows financial benefits for the companies who do not have to bear the costs of telecommuting, maintaining offices, arranging meals etc.
A major benefit of the work from home arrangement is the access to a broader range of tasks and job opportunities which are not limited to geographic location. This has become of special importance to job seekers living in small towns. Fully remote work schedules have allowed people to transcend across borders and engage in remote tasks from countries which are very far from their own. People now enjoy new work positions and enter new domains without worrying about location limitations. People from small-town areas are now in a better position to apply for jobs in domains which they wish to flourish in without incurring significant costs.
Better work/life Balance while Working from Home
It has been observed that working from home ensures better work/life balance. The time spent on commuting and other activities can be directed towards performing self-preservation tasks such as going out, watching a movie or having a chat with a close friend. Employees are also able to fit their daily chores in the system, take breaks in between work and include more self-motivation activities to keep them going. To some extent, the improved balance in work and lifestyle also reflects significantly on health and lifestyle. An improved work/life balance also allowed employees to have better motivation to engage with work tasks, given their active frame of mind due to a more balanced lifestyle.
Reduction in work absences
The major causes of employee absenteeism are burnout, stress and low morale of wanting to show up for work. It is time-consuming and mentally draining for a burnt out person to show up to work amidst it all. Working from home has also shown to have reduced employee absenteeism. It offers a sense of flexibility which allows you to work from home without any hassle. In addition, personal stressors can also often hinder your ability to travel to work and perform. Working from home provides a sense of comfort. Employees experience lesser stressors regarding commute, health and travel. Working from home provides a sense of comfort so it invariably reduces absenteeism.
While there are a lot of advantages of working from home, there’s also another side of the coin. Working from home comes with its own set of challenges. Let us take a look at some of the difficulties you might face while choosing to work from home –
Increased Isolation while Working from Home
Working from home can lead to an increased feeling of isolation. Employees feel this especially when they are living alone. They feel disconnected from their colleagues and the work place. The physical office setting allowed intermingling which is not possible here. Organisations have to devise ways in order to ensure that the feelings of isolation do not manifest in bugger ways. Many companies are failing to engage in regular communication programs and emotion redressal workshops. These are important to gauge the mental and emotional well-being of the employee. Company productivity can be ensured only when the employees are in the right frame of mind to work. This problem is being left unaddressed resulting in a large section of the workforce feeling increasingly isolated.
Not everyone’s cup of tea
Working from home does not suit everyone. Different employees have different ways of ensuring productivity and efficiency in performance. For some employees, the routine and structure that an office setting provides cannot be replaced. Some of them also require personal interaction and office socialisation in order to ensure their productivity and efficiency. Some of them also flourish when provided with face-to-face feedback from managers and other authorities regarding their tasks. For employees with children, especially women, working from home forces them to balance between two roles – of a parent and an employee. Some employees may also not live in home settings that are conducive to working from home.
Increased Risk of Burnout while Working from Home
Working from home also gives rise to citations in which employees work for longer hours than prescribed. Employees are often not able to make a strict demarcation between personal and professional life. Companies sometimes think of working from home as being equivalent to asking employees to work at any time without any boundaries. There is no separation between leisure and work time, with everyone assuming that employees are free to work at any time if they are working from home. Sometimes employees are distracted at home doing other chores and do not focus on the tasks at hand, which is detrimental in the long run.
Communication itself becomes a hurdle while working from home. It becomes difficult to convey the right tone and cues in order while communicating with people in the online medium. Conversations are often devoid of important non-verbal cues such as body language and facial expressions. Managers are not able to relay their intended message to the employees due to this. This means that extra effort has to be put on ensuring that positive communication and intended message is being conveyed. This becomes greatly important when employees have to be reviewed or provided with a feedback. Times are tough and positive communication in the right tone can go a long way.
Impact on Mental Health
In many situations, employees have experienced increased negative effects on mental health. This situation arises when they are unable to find a routine at home which can work for themselves. In some cases, employees take on a lot of work to get over feelings of isolation. This has detrimental long-term effects. In other cases, some employees may have a hard time trying to strike a balance between a demanding home environment and pressuring work life. The inability to relay information of such stresses in a comfortable face-to-face setting also compounds the negative impact on mental health.
Increased need for self-discipline
In many cases, individual or otherwise, we observe that employees are becoming more callous when working from home. Since there is no set routine, remote work requires a sense of self-discipline which is independent of the organisation. It becomes the responsibility of the employer to ensure that they have a schedule in place to complete all their tasks.Employees have to discipline themselves to ensure that they are not being swept away by distractions at home. They also have to ensure that they do not spend hours on social media rather than working on the tasks they have in hand.
As we have seen, while there are several pros of working from home there also some cons as well. This mode of working might pan out positively for some people and negatively for others. You need to decide individually which mode works better for you. Some people prefer the routine that the offline work setting provides. Others love the flexibility that comes with working from home. All of it at the end of the day.
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