Long before the Covid-19 virus arrived and turned our world upside down, the idea of working from home was a faraway dream. It was a benefit that was generally enjoyed by the higher-ups, and something that general employees would only dream of.
Remember how your boss could attend the office meeting from home but you had to drop everything to be there in the office, sometimes, even at unreasonable hours?
However, since the pandemic and the consequent lockdowns, the working at home movement has accelerated its adoption and become common throughout the general workforce. Now, more and more people are provided with an opportunity to work remotely or work in the office. For some people this is not an easy decision, which is why we have created a list of some of the most important pros and cons of working from home.
More and more people now are working from home and major corporate employers who, once, resisted the change are forced to embrace the shift. According to a survey conducted by Upwork, 22% of the American workforce will be working remotely in 2021. This is a significant shift from 2018, when only 7% of civilian employees in the U.S. had the option to work remotely. Companies like Spotify, Twitter are the leaders in embracing the change .
According to Spotifiy’s “Work from anywhere” policy, its 6,550 global employees can choose to work at an office, remotely, or at a coworking space that the company will pay a subscription for. Social Media giant Twitter has also made similar announcements. But the million dollar question: Is this a positive change or should we be wary of this? Let’s go through both the advantages and disadvantages of working from home. First, let’s take a look at the benefits.
Pros of Working from Home
The first and foremost benefit of working from home is it increases our chances of surviving a disease outbreak or a literal pandemic (cue the COVID-19). The corona virus has so far cost 4.49 million people their lives worldwide. So, in the future, remote working could prove useful in reducing the death toll during a disease outbreak.
Of course, working from home is not a vaccine that may protect us from the virus itself but it definitely lowers our chances of contracting the virus, or any other sickness. Of course, not every job can be done remotely, but even if a quarter of the population are working remotely, there is a much lower chance of community transmission.
Save Traveling Time and Costs
Cruising down the street on a sunny day listening to your favorite record playing on your car stereo on your way to work can be a great joy but it also takes years out of your life.
An average person in America drives 37,935 hours throughout their lifetime, most of which is for work. Imagine if you didn’t have to drive that and you had an extra 4 years’ worth of time. You can take a whole year off and live in the lap of Himalayas with Buddhist monks and learn about life, spend that time to get up to speed to get that Dwane Johnson or Gal Gadot body they always wanted, or just spend more time with their loved ones.
Also, with the reduction in miles driven, you can save thousands of dollars that you would normally spend on refueling your car. Possibly those savings could go towards an electric car?
Lowering Carbon Footprint
When you cut down on your travel time and fuel usage, consequently you are lowering your carbon footprint. When more and more people do this, it adds up in efforts to slow down Climate Change.
Tackling Climate Change is important for us as it is the central cause of increased droughts, sea-level rise, drastic weather events, such as forest fires, and all the subsequent devastating effects of these events on humanity and our development in every sense.
More Relaxed Working Environment
When your boss is not breathing down your neck, you are more likely to do your work without stress and tension.
Plus, at home you will also be spared from being told unwanted information about other coworkers by that one nosy coworker we all have at our workplace without our consent.
Reducing Wardrobe Costs
Apart from providing a respite from office drama, working remotely cuts down the money you spend on buying expensive clothes to impress your boss and coworkers. Wearing your pajamas every day can really increase you comfort, but you must remember to change before your video meetings!
Speaking from personal experience, when you are not commuting to and fro between work and home 5 times a week, you are less likely to eat out. This will not only save you money but also helps you stay healthy by eating less junk food outside.
Even for people with high salaries, being able to save money for their retirement is difficult in cities with high costs of living.
When you are given the liberty to work remotely you can finally move away from the city to a quiet countryside, or even abroad where the rent and other essential expenses are much lower.
Increases in Efficiency
A 2014 study led by Stanford professor Nicholas Bloom found that remote workers at a Chinese travel agency were 13 percent more efficient than their office-based peers. So, working from home may make you more efficient.
Increased Job Satisfaction
There have also been studies that suggest working remotely can increase job satisfaction and consequently our overall happiness. It’s not surprising as you are more comfortable at home and in control of everything.
An additional 2005 study found that job satisfaction increased with each additional hour people spent working remotely.
Better Prospects for Employers
Remote working can be beneficial not only for employees but for employers as well. There are so many hidden talents and skilled people throughout the world that can take your business or company to new heights.
Having the infrastructure to allow employees greater work flexibility can allow positions to be opened to freelancers and people from other countries. This greatly increases the talent pool.
Cons of Working from Home
People working remotely may feel disconnected from their coworkers and organization. This may give rise to lack of trust and empathy for other coworkers.
Employers can tackle this by ensuring regular communication. However, it is still not going to be as effective as face-to-face interactions, where you are able to “feel the mood” of the room and take hints from the body language of others. This can really affect confidence and relationship building efforts.
Humans are social by nature and staying isolated from the outside world for long periods of time has negative impacts on a person’s mental health. Sometimes the results could be dark.
People who are dealing with depression and other mental illnesses could have more frequent suicidal thoughts when they spend more and more time by themselves isolated from the outside world.
Working from home may be comfortable but it also comes with a lot of distractions.
Office environments are specially designed to have less distractions, but at home we could easily be disturbed by household noises, chores, or other family members who do not work.
Most of our loved ones already complain about us bringing our work home so imagine what happens when even that thin boundary between work and home is erased.
An office provides a clear physical distinction between work and home life but remote working can make a person forget how to differentiate between work-life and home-life.
This may lead to people finding it difficult to know when to switch off from work, leading to longer hours, increased stress, and inevitable burnout.
Remote working could give rise to security incidents. It is already difficult for companies to keep their competitors from stealing their ideas but when an organization’s employees start working remotely and taking their work laptops home, the already difficult task becomes even more difficult.
With hackers getting more and more sophisticated, the need for staff to access servers remotely could bring a lot of troubles.
Less Competitive Environment
Humans are competitive by nature. When we see a person working hard or doing better than us, we naturally tend to compete with that person and try to outdo them.
People are more productive when they are surrounded by other hard-working people and the hustle and bustle of a thriving work environment. Home can’t provide such an environment. There’s a reason why a lot of students prefer to study in the university library rather than in their rooms.
Lure of Social Media
Most of us can’t go without checking our phones every 5 seconds for social media notifications and messages. Even at work, employers complain of heavy usage of social media by workers despite several measures being put in place to prevent anyone from accessing social media sites at work.
So, when someone finds themselves in an environment where there’s neither any preventive measures nor anyone to monitor their activities, the lure of social media and the constant phone checking can be a big problem.
While at work, we have all the latest equipment and technology to help us do our jobs easily and better, but when working from home, we are away from all of that. I don’t know about you, but after using 2 large LCD screens, I find it extremely difficult to use only a small laptop monitor.
Moreover, it is not just mechanical equipment that helps us at work but also our colleagues. Being able to have a quick conversation and get your questions answered can become a long process when working remotely.
Many successful businessmen and entrepreneurs have said time and time again that network is net worth. It is people and the connections we form that help us get ahead in life.
A person you know from work could be your future investor, partner, or client. While working from home these connections may not be able to be formed, and therefore opportunities may be missed.
Out of Sight, Out of Mind
Much like in retail, “what’s seen is sold” is present in the workplace too. If you’re not present at the office physically, you might not be considered for an interesting project or a new opportunity.
Despite the prevalence of remote working and the employers themselves selling this concept, remote workers might not be perceived to be as committed as their coworkers who arrive daily at the office. A person’s boss could be forming an exciting new group and may not think of a remote worker – just because they’re not constantly in eyesight.
Although none of this is ideal and organizations may strive to avoid these situations, they are nonetheless still run by humans who are a victim to our nature. As much as they may try to avoid it, if you’re not in the office, you may unfortunately be out of sight and out of mind.
Summary of our Pros and Cons of Working from Home
In conclusion, there are many advantages and disadvantages of working from home . The choice of whether someone will work remotely or not really comes down to nature and personality of that person.
People that want to really excel in their job would likely be more focused on working in the office, where they never miss an opportunity for that all important “face item”. On the other hand, people with more of a work-life balance that possibly prioritize time with the family, would likely jump at any opportunity to work from home.
In the end, if you have the option to work remotely, you now have a bit of a better understanding of the pros and cons of working from home. By understanding your goals, your able to make an informed decision about how you want your career to progress.