Working away from the office as millions are sent home has become a necessary and essential skill for everyone. As the virus spreads, businesses throughout the world are shutting down and companies are shifting employees to work at home.
Remote Work Pros
But even before this crisis, between 2005 and 2017, working at home was exploding in popularity. Working at home has increased by 159%. Employers say that a flexible work arrangement increases morale, lowers operating costs, and reduces sick days. Employees say that a flexible work arrangement leaves them more satisfied with their job, more productive, less stressed, and able to keep better care of themselves.
While the boom in remote work may be temporary, operating away from the traditional workplace even in the short term is going to dramatically change the tools, support, and management styles needed. Despite these apparent pros, there are still cons that can change the way we think about working from home.
Remote Work Cons
Working at home means a lot of things that can be detrimental in many ways to employees. A large part of working at home is that you are alone at home – this lack of human contact can be very bad for a person. A 2016 study looked at a travel agency which had randomly assigned a small group of its staff to work from home. Employees reported feeling increasingly isolated, disconnected, and uninformed.
Another big con of working at home is the lack of management. “With nobody managing your time but yourself, it’s easy to get distracted when… challenges appear in your life.” says Amber Baldwin, founder of StoryChasing and travel vlogger. It’s hard for managers to keep an eye on things if the employee is at home and without a physical office, managers will have to learn new ways to judge productivity.
A New Culture
Employees will also have to develop new habits, such as keeping documentation of work interaction and learning virtual only communication. For many companies, that may mean a completely new set of processes, procedures, and systems. Even with all of these cons, working at home is now necessary. Like it or not, we need to get used to working at home and adapt to the challenges it presents.