Remote Work – Why it works and Why it doesn’t

December 10, 2020
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Nearly 42% of the U.S. labor force is now working from home full time according to Nicholas Bloom, an economist at Stanford. With such a large portion of the country running businesses from home, is it more beneficial to work from home or stay in the office? Keep reading to learn about how working remotely works well and how it does not.

Who can easily work from home?

Working remotely has proven to be very successful for a large number of businesses and their employees. Those who typically work in an office setting or mostly on computers can more easily adapt to working from home. Those workers who work in retail, food service, medical, and physical labor jobs obviously are unable to do their work from home. Those working from home are typically working fairly sedentary jobs, to begin with, and no physical or face-to-face interaction is needed with others in order to do their jobs. Those working in grocery stores or other frontline jobs cannot so easily avoid interaction with the general public.

What are some negative aspects of working from home?

Although working from home may be a viable option for some, not all workers will have access to the same amenities that they can easily access their office. Not all employees have internet access or the necessary equipment to use at home in order to do their job. If employers offer to provide equipment and pay for internet service for their employees that may solve some of the issues facing remote work, but this is not the only issue. Having the correct type of working environment readily available to use in your home may be hard to come by for a large number of workers. Not everyone has a home office they can use, and if your kids or other family are home with you, it may prove to be an even bigger strain on your work ethic. Distractions are also another obstacle remote workers have to overcome. With all of the comforts of home right at your fingertips, it can be very easy to lose focus. Another problem that not many remote workers or employers may think about is cybersecurity. According to a recent study by Twingate, “59% of employees felt more cyber secure working in-office compared to at home.” Unless your employees each have their internet and home systems installed by your company and their tech support team, it is hard to be absolutely certain that customer information is being handled safely and securely.

What are the positive aspects of working from home?

There are 3 major aspects of working from home that has proven to be positive for workers even before this pandemic struck. The first being increased productivity. When in the right environment, workers are far more productive working at home. You can avoid office place distractions and noise. There is also far less physical human interaction to keep you from your work. The second aspect a lot of employers and employees enjoy is the opportunity for more flexible work schedules. Yes, you may have a set time during the day to complete work or interact with customers, but having your work equipment readily available allows you to work on things outside of normal business hours. This only helps increase employee productivity and gives employees more time to get to things that they may not have all of the time to complete during a regular 9-to-5 schedule. The final aspect is that remote work saves a ton of time and money for employers. If your employees work from home, employers can avoid the costs that come with owning or renting an office space. You can also save on amenities that normal workplaces offer to customers and employees. You are also able to save yourself and your employees’ hundreds of dollars per year on expenses related to commuting to and from your workplace.

How are employees benefitting from working remotely?

The most important reason employees have more recently been working from home is safety. Studies show that almost 60% of Americans think COVID-19 has changed the way we work for the better, according to a WalletHub study of a nationally representative Coronavirus and Working from Home Survey. Obviously, the less you have physical contact with other people outside of your family, the more likely you are to stay healthy. A lot of employees are also able to channel more time into focusing on their work or enhancing their skills while they save time no longer having to commute to work or sit in meetings. This extra time has helped remote workers still do their jobs and also improve upon their current skill set while just trying to get through this strange time.

How are remote workers being negatively impacted?

There are some negative aspects to working from home. When you are home alone on a daily basis with very limited social interaction you can begin to feel quite lonely. In a global study conducted by SAP, Qualtrics, and Mind Share Partners, researchers surveyed more than 2,000 employees in March and April of this year in Australia, France, Germany, New Zealand, Singapore, the UK, and the United States. They found that the pandemic is impacting mental health around the world. Over 40% of people said their mental health has declined since the COVID-19 outbreak. There have also been findings that remote workers are struggling to find a proper work/life balance amid the pandemic. With our work so close by, it is easy to let the long to-do list keep you sucked into your work for hours longer than it would if you were in a separate office location.

When it comes down to it, every workplace will have to decide what works best for them. Make sure you are totally open with your team and get their input and opinions on working remotely. Working from home is not for everyone, and forcing those who do not excel in an independent work environment may hurt you more in the long run than help you.