Because of the coronavirus pandemic, as many other spheres of life, also working regime has experienced some major changes such as the transition to work from home. Even before the pandemic, an increasing number of people have been saying goodbye to their onerous commute work as the majority of the employers identified its contribution to a successful business and the improvement in employees’ work-life balance.
Remote work has provided some employers with the flexibility they need to continue their business operations while prioritizing staff and customer health and wellbeing as part of their public health responsibility.
You may think that it would not be beneficial for your business, but according to data, employees with 26 weeks of service have a statutory right to request flexible working arrangements such as home working and such requests should seriously be considered by employers.
Advantages of working from home
The number of employees working from home is on the constant increase or home is serving as a workplace for at least part of the week. And it is beneficial for business in many ways:
- You will have staff more flexible and agile.
Homeworking provides working arrangements with agility and flexibility. Employees won’t be obliged to go to the workplace gaining a chance to be better placed and more willing to work flexible hours such as earlier or later in the day or even at weekends. It helps you to meet certain business needs. For example, some may trade with customers residing in a different time zone.
- Employees will be less likely to quit.
If employees work from home it can give them an opportunity to meet childcare needs, reduce their commute, and enable them to fit their work around their personal life. By allowing them to work from home, employers can show their increased levels of trust in their employees. Accordingly, staff loyalty will increase as well.
- It attracts new talent.
Homeworking can encourage working for you attracting new talent to your business. Not all businesses make working regime optional. So, you will be more preferable than your competitors in the job market by offering the option to work from home.
- Productivity will boost.
We know that there can be interruptions in the office environment. On the contrary, working at home provides a quiet environment, and staff will stay more focused on their work. Additionally, employees’ work-time will be longer, because the time they save from commuting to start work earlier, later or both can be used as well.
- Staff motivation will increase.
Employers can make employees feel more trusted allowing them to work from home. Because monitoring doesn’t bother them and they will be working autonomously. Besides, employees will be glad of a suitable home working routine which make them feel more motivated.
- It improves staff’s health and wellbeing .
Staff won’t be required to go to work and they will be able to get extra health benefits such as additional sleep, spending more time with family, exercising, or preparing healthier meals.
- Financial benefits.
Homeworking can be financially beneficial as well. For example, expenditure on office space, office supplies, and other facilities can be lower. Additionally, HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) offers home workers tax relief.
- It is really convenient.
Some employers’ staff may not be at the workplace on a regular basis as they visit customer locations very often. And working from home may be more convenient for them, leading to further time and costs savings.
- Better work-life balance.
Staff may gain an improved work-life balance. For example, employees who would have to commute to work can now use that time for themselves, creating the foundation for a better work-life balance. Staff can also do household chores during the working day giving them more free time in the evenings, such as tidying the room or cooking dinner during lunchtime.
- It is easier than ever.
Thanks to the Internet, employees can be constantly connected to the office. Tools like Skype have made it much easier for colleagues and teams to communicate and can sometimes lead to more effective meetings.
- Fewer absenteeism due to illness.
Employees are more likely to feel happier and more energetic while working from home, and therefore less likely to have their immune systems negatively affected by burnout. In addition, the fact that employees work in isolation reduces the likelihood of the spread of infections, as they would in an office environment.
- Less need for regular vacations.
Even if employees are still working, working from home can feel like a break from work. Homeworkers will feel more energized and able to spend more time with their family and therefore not feel the need to take such leave. However, it is your responsibility as an employer to provide employees with vacation – find out how much vacation to give your employees.
Disadvantages of employees working from home
While there are some drawbacks for home-based employees, most of them apply to those who work from home their entire workweek rather than part of it:
- Working from home is not for everyone.
Working from home may not suit everyone in character or ability. Some employees may prefer the routine and structure that office work provides them. Some employees may prefer personal communication with colleagues, and also find that personal communication with their manager is extremely beneficial in helping them complete tasks and achieving their goals. You also need to remember about employees with disabilities. Working from home can negatively impact the support they need to work. Working from home also may not fit into everyone’s family life, for example, some people may have young children who may not know boundaries and cause breaks during the workday. Others may not have the physical space needed to create a suitable designated working area.
- Staff may feel isolated.
People working from home may feel disconnected from their colleagues and the organization as a whole, which naturally allows the office environment. To solve this problem, employers can make communication more regular. Thus, by scheduling quick phone meetings or regular team meetings using other technologies such as Skype, employees have more opportunities to feel involved and part of the team. More informal and social gatherings will also help counteract any feelings of isolation.
- Difficulty in monitoring performance.
It can be difficult to manage and monitor homeworkers. Different personalities may also respond to observation with varying degrees of positiveness. You can set goals and objectives with employees that are easy to measure so that if their goals are not being met, you can identify and fix any performance issues earlier on. Learn how to manage workforce productivity and effectively manage employees who work from home.
- Distractions at home.
While working from home eliminates the distractions that can arise in the office, if an employee does not have a sufficiently quiet dedicated work space at home, they can easily be distracted by household noise or other family members.
- Potential burnout.
Where the office makes a clear physical distinction between work and home life, working from home can lead employees to forget to distinguish between work and family life. This can make it difficult for employees to know when to disconnect from work, leading to longer hours, increased stress, and inevitable burnout. Employers should encourage their employees to take regular breaks and remind them of the importance of their vacation.
- The cost of working from home.
It is the initial cost of training and providing suitable equipment such as laptops, mobile phones, and other IT equipment. You will also need to consider adapting to meet health and safety standards.
- Developing the staff can be challenging.
You may find that the lack of staff in close proximity leads to difficulties in maintaining staff development and skills development. However, you can encourage employees to take advantage of the opportunity to learn new skills through online events and courses. To get started, search for events in the Event finder program.
- Information security is at risk.
Information security issues are more likely to occur when staff work from home. There is an increased risk when laptops are taken home and staff requires remote access to servers. Employers should make sure they take steps to protect company data by installing encryption software and remote wipe applications if mobile devices you provide go missing. VPNs also encrypt your data and provide secure access to a remote computer over the Internet. This helps keep your files and data safe, but still accessible to your employees. See IT Security and Risks.
- It may influence mental health negatively.
Moving to work from home can negatively impact your worker’s mental health if they can’t find a routine that works for them, struggles to separate work and home life, or feels isolated. To help you, you can encourage your employees to develop work routines, create a dedicated workplace, and set boundaries for other family members. Create more opportunities for employees to stay connected by communicating through regular chats and communicating with the team. A healthy diet and regular exercise can also help improve mental health, especially when included in your daily routine. Check out 7 simple NHS tips to help you work from home.
- It lowers staff morale.
It can be more difficult to maintain team spirit when employees are working from home on their own.
- Not all workplaces are suitable for working from home.
Working from home works better for some jobs than others. Likewise, it works for some personality types but not others. Some people may prefer to interact with colleagues in person.
The coronavirus pandemic has given some employers who would not otherwise see working from home as an option for staff a practical understanding of how it affects their businesses and employees. This allowed employers to learn first hand about the advantages and disadvantages of working from home. This experience can be very useful in terms of further developing the working practices of employees. Moving to work from home does not mean that employees should only work from home. Dividing time between home and work is often the most productive solution, and you may want the homeworker to attend meetings to keep them fully engaged and informed.