Whether you are in it for the long haul or experiencing a temporary solution whilst we continue to live in strange times, remote working welcomes many advantages but can also attract multiple challenges that could be difficult to shift. Prior to Covid-19, the ONS forecasted that half of UK employees would be remote working by 2020, however after the pandemic hit and many of us were left with no choice to work from home, we can predict that this number has risen significantly. But what advantages are there to remote working, and what challenges do workers face from this working setup?
Although all industries aren’t able to adopt working from home practices, we discuss some of the main pros and cons some businesses may experience from remote working, whether you are the employer or an employee.
Thanks to numerous digital advancements and online technologies, a quick shift from an office environment to a working from home setup was probably deemed very simple for most. We swiftly fell into the norm of instant messaging through the likes of Microsoft Teams, or arranging video calls through Zoom. Some of us may even have started communicating more with colleagues we didn’t usually work with, as companies adopted and encouraged ‘company culture’ from home.
However, whilst we do live in this digital age, with advanced technology and an abundance of communication platforms at our fingertips, is anything easier than simply chatting to someone in the workplace? Asking a quick question and receiving that even simpler bitesize answer we needed? For people commencing a role that is based remotely, can you really get to know someone through video or phone call? Colleagues have the potential to build lasting and meaningful relationships with their fellow co-workers at the workplace, which could be more challenging digitally.
Working from home allows many people to spend more quality time with family or even use the extra time that was spent on commuting or getting ready for work, to enjoy other personal commitments. Whether that’s taking the kids to school, venturing on longer walks with the dog or finally having time to eat a wholesome breakfast, flexibility has been one of the biggest advantages to people experiencing the remote working structure.
Of course, being able to work remotely also provides unrivalled flexibility allowing employees and employers to check emails quickly during out of work hours and the likes, but does this make if harder to create a healthy work-life balance? With our makeshift workstation in the corner of our eye or our laptop flickering 24/7, separating work and life could be tricky.
It has been derived from various studies that many employees are more productive working from home, due to there being no need to spend a long period of time travelling and having the stress of a busy commute. However, working from home or remotely welcomes the challenge of self-discipline and self-control to refrain from distractions at home, and it can be very easy to be side-tracked by home comforts.
Nevertheless, working from home can also offer a peaceful working environment, eliminating usual background noise of office phones ringing or conversations between colleagues, meaning employees may be able to concentrate and focus better on current assignments.
A significant advantage of working from home is the financial savings employees and employers can benefit from, whether that is avoiding the usual commute or for employers, the daily running of the workplace. Even spending money on new workwear is a thing of the past! Staying at home more often and thanks to advanced technology at our fingertips has also limited the requirement for long-distance business travel, which may even transform the way meetings are conducted for some time.
One of the most important topics arising from the recent crisis is the wellbeing of employers and employees, whilst working from home. Being away from the office and not in direct contact with fellow colleagues makes it harder to check up on co-workers. It’s easy for employees to hide behind the computer screen whilst projecting a positive personal across emails and phone calls, highlighting the importance of companies reaching out and providing additional support when needed to potentially vulnerable colleagues. The social aspect of sharing a working day with colleagues can also help with mental wellbeing within the workplace, so its important to replicate this remotely.
As mentioned above, however, remote working provides employees with more free time throughout the day without the stress of commuting and potentially rushing other personal commitments. For many, this could welcome more opportunities to exercise, focus on mental health and self-care or simply relax before or after the working day. Whatever contributes to your mental or physical health should remain at the forefront and having the flexibility to work from home creates the chance for employees and employers alike to make this a priority in a Covid and post-Covid world.
Overall, it can be drawn that there are many advantages and disadvantages of remote working and some people may be able to adapt to home working better than others. Whilst a flexible working structure allows more time for personal commitments and a focus on mental and physical health, can communication and productivity within work teams remain at the level achieved within the workplace?