The Pros and cons of working from home

For a lot of office-based roles, there is absolutely no need to be sat at a desk all day to do your job, remote office solutions have long existed in the market before Covid-19 accelerated it. As a computer repair service, we have been utilizing these software packages for years. These solutions have been around for over a decade, and several companies have already been utilizing WFH solutions long before Covid. This isn’t a new phenomenon; it has simply elucidated a valid notion.

For the vast majority of companies and organizations, the 2020 pandemic and WFH has been a huge wake-up call, many companies have realized that their staff can effectively work from home. It is, upon this realization, that many companies have changed their working practices completely. For example, Nationwide and Santander recently closed a large number of their physical offices and will allow 3000 staff members to WFH for the foreseeable future. It is predicted that many industries will follow. There seems to be an ever-growing number of companies that are moving towards this right now.

However, it is important to articulate that WFH has its fair share of pros and cons, it is especially important to explain these in order for you to gain an understanding. Let’s look at the pros and con’s of working from home from an employee’s perspective, we will also outline some of the pros and cons from an employer’s perspective at the end of this blog.

Pro’s (employee)

  • Some staff are paying in excess of £500 per month to get to work, E.G trains, Buses, Petrol, Car Parking Charges, insurance, taxi’s, time-consuming commutes ETC the cost of the commute is a big factor that seems to be driving this change towards WFH. The cost of the commute is a huge factor driving this change.

  • No more missing the train or bus, waiting for hours on the M60, dealing with people on the motorway, no more operating in a toxic work environment with people you don’t get on with. Is this the end of workplace harassment? For most people, stress is a contributing factor that drives employee dissatisfaction. A stressful commute can lead to disgruntled employees.

  • Some staff that commute long distances are burdened into purchasing lunch, this can amount to hundreds of pounds worth of money per month (E.G Costa, Subway, ETC) while WFH, staff can simply make their own lunch which is significantly cheaper, it is also better for the environment and reduces plastic waste. Staff that WFH can save a huge amount of money not having to purchase overpriced food at work.

  • In most places, staff are more productive working-from-home, this is because they can clock on and off immediately with ease, the flexibility is a huge benefit. For example, in the office, it is common for staff members to arrive late to work due to accidents on the M60, congestion on the roads, car breakdowns, ETC. With WFH, there is absolutely no reason for a staff member to arrive at work late.

  • Often overlooked by most people, so we’re in the middle of a climate change disaster, right? Essentially driven by congestion? Increased emissions, and waste? Well with WFH it keeps people off the motorway, limits emissions, and reduces pollution. Reduced greenhouse gas emissions. Reduced consumption of fossil fuels. Reduced consumption of plastic.

  • It’s generally safer WFH than it is commuting to work, after all, where’s safer than your own home? This is often the case for people that have to travel on buses, trains, trams, and other modes of transport. You are not being exposed to the same level of risk WFH when travelling to an office.

  • Many people in offices share toilets, fridges, microwaves, toasters, ETC. Whilst not all companies have disgusting toilets and microwaves, there does appear to be a common trend. For many people, the relief of using your own toilet, using your own clean fridge, and not having to mix with people that are sick is a huge benefit. It also reduces the number of colds, flu and other viruses.

  • Sickness and absence: While working from home, it is unlikely that staff will book time off for sickness or mental health days off because staff have a better work/life balance. Staff are less likely to call in with a cold or flu, as they are already at home. This changes the mindset of staff when booking time off sick.

An example of two scenarios.

Scenario 1: get up at 5 am, buy 2000 season ticket, sit on a train for 1.5 hours suited and muzzled, spend the day in a hot office, pay 3 for a coffee, 10 a sandwich, repeat train journey home,

Scenario 2: get up at 8 am, turn on the computer and achieve the same job, £2 or a bag of coffee (20 cups) £8 for bread and filling,(10 sandwiches- lasts all week) and sit at home in cool clothing with the windows open for fresh air.

On the other hand, whilst working from home does come with a large number of benefits, there is clearly a wide range of issues that can develop by constantly being at home working. Some of these issues can hinder the switch from WFH, but it is entirely dependent on the company in question. We list some of the cons below.

Con’s (Employee)

  • So, the primary argument used against WFH is the impact on social interaction, this is indeed a valid point as simply working from home permanently can impact one's mental health. Never forget, human beings are a creature that needs social interaction, it is an essential requirement for all humans. Unfortunately, WFH does take away that component, and this can lead to depression and other issues. The only way to counter this is for companies to create some kind of hybrid model.

  • It can be difficult to work in the same way as you worked in the office, after all, you’re in your own home. While at the office, it doesn’t seem as personal, you can simply separate your work and life balance. In order to address this, you need discipline and this can be especially difficult if you have kids or (pets) at home that demand your attention. Working-from-home while looking after your kids can be extremely stressful, balancing your home life with your working life can be an extremely difficult thing to achieve

  • While working from home, you need an office, a place to separate your work-home life balance, as a result, you are likely to lose some living space with this new setup. This is particularly difficult if you live in a small flat or shared building, as there just isn’t a room. It can also be intrusive converting your home into an office, as you feel like you never truly clock off.

  • Relationships are harder to develop: it is often difficult to establish relationships with people remotely when you don’t have face-to-face interactions, many people enjoy the social interaction element of working in an office, so it may be difficult to establish new relationships and friendships when you don’t meet people face to face. This is often the case with office banter.

Advantages (Employer)

  • Improved staff retention WFH can bring a better work-life balance to staff, which in turn can improve employee engagement and help to improve staff retention levels. In the absence of commuting, remote workers can start working earlier due to not having to commute to work.

  • Overheads There is a huge amount of savings to be had when staff are working from home, for example, many companies spend an absolute fortune on buildings. These huge savings can be invested into over parts of the business, such as marketing, procurement, IT, etc. For example, a company that is no longer paying £5000 a month on a building can invest these cost savings into providing better prices to customers, thus improving competition.

  • Better for the environment From a corporate social responsibility perspective, there is a positive impact on the environment that working from home can bring. Improvements in carbon emissions and reducing the number of staff commuting to work.

Disadvantages (employer)

  • Performance monitoring: For some, the ability to monitor staff performance can be a challenge. However, this does depend on the role, how that role can be measured and what processes are in place that enables the business to monitor and manage performance.

  • Working from home can be challenging when integrating a new employee into the business and in driving a culture of team working as there is naturally less physical interaction between the team.

  • With the strict (GDPR) rules there could be more chance of information security risks, as staff are WFH handling sensitive information at home and so having effective systems in place and tools to mitigate this is going to be more important and perhaps costly.

  • Mental health: There is also the psychological impact that can be an issue for some. Working from home can create a feeling that you never leave work and can make it harder for some to switch off. One big difference in moving to remote working is the loss of social interaction

As a computer repair service, our industry has been captivated by the move towards home working. We are experiencing a huge demand for our services since people have been working from home, this is due to a lack of IT support while home working. Many companies are unable to fix IT problems remotely, so they outsource the work to local tradesman like us. This has created a huge demand for our services as people are more and more reliant on their technology while home working.

Ultimately, company bosses should weigh up the pros and cons of home working, if they are in a position to cut costs and save money, then they are likely to do so.

However, it is extremely important that they factor in areas such as mental health, remote monitoring, and data protection issues that could arise from GDPR. The situation has been unprecedented for most people, it has accelerated progression and put more demand on tech companies to offer solutions to problems.

Stay safe.

Laptop Repair Base Preston.

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