The concept of working from home has been present in forward-thinking businesses for some time, but its widespread adoption was accelerated by the onset of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020. With the pandemic receding and virus-related restrictions all-but removed, the question of whether remote working remains a viable model has reared its head. What are the advantages and disadvantages of remote work, and should employees embrace change or return to the office?
One of the major advantages to working from home has been the removal of the daily commute from the remote worker’s routine. Travel is a stressful activity at the best of times, and many were adversely affected by their daily commute to and from the office. Working from home enables a new degree of flexibility and less stress with which to start the day.
More Time for Oneself
A survey by booklet printers instantprint references the average daily commute being 59 minutes in total, representing an additional hour of free time for every remote worker in the country. The survey found that 26% of UK workers spend that time reading, while a fifth get to spend more quality time with family and friends as a result of no longer having to commute.
The elimination of the daily commute naturally results in significant savings on transport costs, whether public transport or fuel. But money is also saved on other small purchases, such as morning takeaway coffees, snacks, and lunchtime meal deals – all of which add up to a costly amount each month.
Safe from Illness
Coronavirus aside, working from home allowed employees to avoid making one another ill with seasonal viruses or the common cold – resulting in less sickness-related absences from work and hence less workload-related stress for remaining workers.
Working from home removes the social element of working in an office and relegates collaborative work to proprietary software, message boxes, and video calls. The lack of direct face-to-face contact can have an alienating effect on employees, making for a sense of isolation and potential deterioration of mental health.
Reduced Team Bonding
Another effect of this isolation is with regard to team bonding – especially where the onboarding of new staff is concerned. Collaborative projects and teamwork can suffer when carried out digitally, and the literal distance between team members can frustrate departmental cohesion, slowing progress as a result.
Working While Sick
While infections are no longer being passed around the office, employees are still getting sick – and, because they are not commuting into the office, they are often weathering their illness to continue working from home. With three quarters of employers noticing this phenomenon in remote workers, it is a serious problem and one that could detrimentally affect work as well as individual health.
Ultimately, the decision to work from home should remain with the employee in question. While remote working has its disadvantages, its effects on productivity are not detrimental overall. In some cases, it can even result in improvements to productivity, owing to greater employee satisfaction.