The year 2020 has seen a seismic shift in the way we work, with a huge percentage of workers now doing their job from home. While working from home used to be seen as an unattainable dream by many UK employees, the ongoing pandemic has facilitated a working from home revolution in which even those who had previously had working from home requests turned down now find themselves juggling the demands of their 9 to 5 job with childcare and chores. As new restrictions are put in place with the aim of curbing the spread of the virus, only time will tell how long Britain’s workers will be out of the office for.
In this article LDN Properties explore the pros and cons of working from home and examine whether or not working from home makes our staff more productive.
The pros of working from home
Fewer distractions from colleagues – Most of us could probably name at least one colleague who is more than happy to engage in chit-chat by the water cooler, perhaps even to the extent that it impacts upon your productivity! While it is good to maintain positive relations with colleagues, many find working from home to be helpful in minimising distractions from co-workers.
Less office politics – Similarly, some workers have found working from home to provide a welcome break from office politics, as well as the gossip and backstabbing that go alongside. With fewer opportunities to spread gossip, it is arguable that working from home has made us more focused on the task at hand and less likely to engage in politicking.
More time to think about projects – It could be argued that a busy office environment is not the best place to think about long-term projects, and that the buzzing atmosphere of most offices is too busy to be conducive to strategic planning. For many employees, working from home has afforded them a peaceful environment to contemplate long-term goals and ambitions for their company.
More focused meetings – A large number of employees report that too much of their working life is taken up by meetings which are unfocused and, consequently, run way over their allocated time slot. It can be extremely frustrating when meetings eat into time which should be being spent on other projects. Many find that virtual meetings lead to more time-efficient meetings with specific and measurable outcomes.
Better work/life balance – Another huge advantage of home working is the work/life balance that is achieved without the pressures of commuting. While working from the office involves a lengthy and often stressful commute into a city centre, working from home means that many employees gain back at least two hours of their day in which to manage their home lives.
Total control over your own workspace – With so many office arguments stemming from debates over what the appropriate temperature of a workspace is, it’s no wonder that employees are relishing the opportunity to have total control over their own workspaces. Working from home allows you to create an environment which is most conducive to your own comfort and productivity.
The cons of working from home
More distractions from children and partners – While working from home might reduce distractions from colleagues, it can be difficult for those who have young children. Even partners can be a distraction, especially if your other half has been furloughed and is finding it difficult to fill their days at home.
Increased sense of isolation – We are all vulnerable to an increased sense of isolation when working from home. However, some will experience this more acutely than others. In particular, extroverts may struggle with loneliness and lack of stimulation while working from home. If you are struggling it might help to introduce a regular social event that can be attended virtually, such as a quiz, to ensure that you are still engaging with your colleagues in an informal way.
Communication lag – Another common issue experienced when working from home is a communication lag whereby it may take hours or even days for issues to be resolved when the entire team is working remotely. Even issues that would have been resolved almost immediately if the team was working in an office could fall between the cracks. Therefore, issues with communicating effectively is another reason why working from home could be challenging to productivity.
Mental health implications – 2020 has been a tough year for many of us, and in some cases, working from home has exacerbated the strain. While some have embraced this new way of working, others have struggled with the loss of routine and reduced opportunities for social connections to thrive. If you are struggling with the mental health implications associated with working from home, contact your HR department or a mental health organisation who can offer support.
Decreased motivation – Although you may be just as busy as you have ever been while working from home, you may also have experienced a fall in your workload leading to quiet periods. In this situation you might find it difficult to stay motivated and engaged with your work. When working from home it is all too easy to get lost in household chores and, over time, this can lead you to become disillusioned with your work. If you are finding it difficult to stay focused or motivated when working from home, it might help to get in touch with a qualified career counsellor who could help you to get back on track.
To sum up, while some staff find working from home great for their productivity and overall wellbeing, others may find working from home to be an isolating experience which robs them of their sense of motivation.