As 2021 approaches, working from home (WFH) is still the reality for many employees. But what about the future? Is it worth making WFH a permanent feature, or should back to normal (whenever it comes) mean back to the office?
Drawing on the employee experience, here’s our rundown of WFH pros and cons to help you decide.
The myth is that WFH is a slacker’s dream. The reality for most staff is that they are at least as productive when home-based. Thanks to the absence of peripheral office-based distractions and non-productive meetings, many actually get more done.
According to one survey, 65% of workers say they are more productive when working from home. Many employers are noticing this, too: two thirds of them report increased productivity for home workers compared to on-site workers.
So long as the deadlines are met and meetings are attended, it doesn’t matter too much precisely when staff are at their desks. So whether it’s the school run in the morning or a lunchtime workout, remote working makes it much easier for employees to meet their work obligations, while also managing their personal lives.
It’s stressful, tiring, not to mention a colossal waste of time. So it’s not surprising that the ability to ditch the commute regularly comes at or near the top of the list of reasons why employees like working from home.
The average UK worker spends almost £800 a year on work travel. And while all of those deserted branches of Pret might be bad news for the exchequer, it makes a substantial difference to your wallet if you are not buying lunch every day.
Of course, WFH can mean extra expenses in other areas (heating and electricity, for instance). But on balance, the savings on commuting costs and lunches more than make up for it. In fact, a survey from September showed that 73% of workers were financially better off since the lockdown.
WFH can give employees more time and space to take care of themselves. For instance, in one survey, more than three quarters of workers thought that remote work allows for a better diet, more exercise, less stress and a generally healthier lifestyle.
At first, the novelty of not having to drag yourself into the office is liberating. After a while however, employees can start to miss the face-to-face interaction and the general office buzz.
46% of UK workers have experienced loneliness when working from home. For younger staff, this rises to 74%. Regular video meetings and catch-ups can be a vital morale booster.
The one good thing about the daily commute is that at least it bookends the working day. If staff are home based and keeping flexible hours, it’s easy to drift into an ‘always on’ culture, where they are expected to respond to requests at all hours.
Good management is essential, including keeping an eye on employee workloads, and encouraging them to take time out and switch off.
When you are sitting a few feet away from your mentor, a lot of on-the-job training happens naturally. With WFH, it takes a little more effort to replicate this. For junior staff especially, it’s a good idea to pencil in regular catch-up and progress meetings.
For a quick query relating to a technical or process issue, the easiest way of solving it is to pop your head around the door of someone in the know.
For WFH, you need a more user-friendly alternative to long email threads for routine communication. You also need to ensure that your IT support partners are able to quickly respond to the needs of a remote workforce.
Trying to use business software with an underpowered laptop can be a frustrating experience, and a huge waste of time.
The plus points in favour of WFH are impossible to ignore. Meanwhile, the negatives all have one thing in common: with the right management and support in place, they can all be overcome. For a closer look at effective ‘WFH-friendly’ IT support, take a look at Storm-in-a-Box today.