Working from home: how effective is it?

August 4, 2020 | Lifestyle

woman working from home

As countries around the world continue to be affected by COVID-19, remote working has become the default mode of work for many businesses. So, naturally, the effectiveness of working from home has become a topic of hot debate. Here’s a run-down of the cons and benefits of working from home …

The benefits of working from home  

Increased productivity

One of the biggest misconceptions about working from home is that employees are less productive. But this simply isn’t the case. 

A recent PGi report revealed that around 70% of employees saw an increase in their productivity when working remotely, due to lower stress from commuting and reduced distractions from other employees. 

Cost efficiency 

According to Global Workplace Analytics, the average company can save around $11,000 USD per year for every employee who works from home, at least half of the time. 

That is because working from home reduces the costs that come with:

  • overheads
  • purchasing office supplies 
  • providing transit subsidies
  • real estate costs
  • allowing for continuity of operations

What’s more, employees also enjoy a cost saving of about $4,000 USD per year as telecommuting reduces or eliminates costs associated with transportation, parking fees, take out lunches and a professional wardrobe. 

Health improvements

Studies show that employees who work from home can exercise for 25 minutes more every week than office employees. 

This is mainly because the travelling time for telecommuters is significantly reduced (or eliminated), leaving them with more time in their day. What’s more, employees who work remotely may remain healthier when not exposed to “Sick Building Syndrome”; a condition thought to be caused by congested offices and poor indoor air quality.

Increased comfort 

Working from home gives employees the freedom to create an environment that works best for them and to dress more comfortably. Numerous studies have shown the productivity gains (anywhere between 2.7% and 8.6%) achieved when employees have greater control over their personal comfort. 

woman working from home up close shot on keyboard

The cons of working from home 

Work-life balance 

Despite the assumption that working from home promotes work-life balance, it is not always the case. For some, the increased hours spent at home could lead to a rise in stress and work-family conflicts. Studies have shown that remote workers can experience high-stress levels due to blurred work-life boundaries and less social interaction. 

Sound familiar? Check out these Essential Working From Home Tips.

Access to work equipment and documents 

Not all employers have the financial capability to provide employees with equipment to work from home effectively. And this means that employees aren‘t able to replicate the office-like environment at home that would enable them to work to their highest standard.

Miscommunication 

Miscommunication is one of the biggest struggles faced by remote workers. According to a report by The Institute of Leadership & Management, 88% of remote workers experience communication issues, while 83% feel that they are overwhelmed with emails. Communicating via email or text can also lead to miscommunication, especially during high-stress situations. 

The fact of the matter is that some workers may not have enough personal networks in place to allow them to work effectively from home. For instance, even reading a situation accurately over a Zoom meeting may be difficult for inexperienced workers.

Mental health issues

Working from home may come with some health perks. But on the flip side, a lack of human connection has been shown to affect mental wellbeing negatively. Some studies report that over 70% of people have struggled to adjust to remote working, and mental health challenges are on the rise. 

Lack of on-the-job learning and mentoring

Remote working makes passive learning almost obsolete. That means learning on the job by listening to and working with colleagues, or networking through “water-cooler chats” goes out the window. This shift can be especially hard for younger staff who often benefit from workplace mentoring and being able to shadow senior staff.

Weakened team cohesion

Casual chats or work-related discussions can’t happen as easily with remote arrangements as they do when coworkers are sitting next to each other in the office. This may mean that organisations struggle to retain that element of collaboration between staff and lose their ability to keep workers engaged with thei culture and brand.

Working from home in the long run

Due to the pandemic, some firms have started to plan for a permanent shift to working from home. But the workplace cannot go away. It is critical for individuals, teams and organisations and is part of our holistic working experience. So, it will always have a place in society. 

That being said, on average, due to remote working and leaner workforces, businesses need approximately 20% less space than they did pre-COVID. Looking to reduce your commercial real estate footprint? Capitalise on the current market conditions by getting in touch with our team today!

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