In the first part of The Future of Work (From Home) series, we examined the advantages of implementing a remote work strategy and how it can benefit employees and employers. This second part will focus on the disadvantages of working from home (WFH), allowing you to compare the pros and cons.
As a reminder, here are the pros we covered in part one:
- Higher employee satisfaction
- Employers and employees can save money
- Increased productivity
- Improved skills and independence
We know that remote work is here to stay, but in what capacity will likely be determined once it’s completely safe to return to the office. And although there are several positives for both parties, it’s important to look at the opposite side and ask ourselves, can employees and businesses suffer because of remote work? Below, we cover the disadvantages of a work-from-home policy and how it can affect both sides.
CONS FOR REMOTE WORK
Creates disconnect amongst teams
Some managers and employees report that while working from home, they have more difficulty feeling connected to their colleagues. In the office, it’s much easier to engage with the people around you during breaks or at lunch – but without this social aspect, it can be challenging to find that comradery that helps people work well together. Additionally, common managerial tasks like coaching or providing feedback can suffer when done electronically because we’re missing the important social cues and body language that help us communicate.
Fully relies on personal technology + capabilities
A survey by Stanford University reports that only 65% of Americans have fast enough internet to support video calls and other remote work-related tasks. Obviously reliable internet service is integral to working from home, so if employers move their teams to be fully remote, what happens to those whose homes aren’t equipped to handle telecommuting? Managers may consider offering a stipend to help employees support purchasing faster internet if they don’t want to lose out on valuable talent.
Not only that, but managers will also have to rely on their teams to adapt to any necessary technologies. This includes video conferencing software and other productivity platforms. In order to ensure everyone is on the same page, training might have to be offered.
Causes increased burnout
Many people working from home – during the pandemic especially – experience burnout because it becomes difficult to separate work life from home life. Burnout, which is caused by prolonged stress from mental, emotional, and physical exhaustion, can cause poor performance or attitude among employees. Although some people believe that working remotely can increase employee satisfaction, others argue that by working in your home, the line between working and not-working is blurred. In addition to the effects mentioned above, burnout can also cause fatigue, insomnia, and irritability, none of which are ideal for employees.
Distractions lower productivity
One of the biggest factors in the conversation about remote work is whether it really leads to increased productivity. While some reports show that companies have seen an increase in productivity, others say that remote work comes with a “productivity tax” due to decreased levels of produced work. This may be because of more distractions at home, like handling childcare or remote learning, or because of the comfort being at home provides. The ability to work from home requires the following from employees and employers:
- Good time management skills
- Ability to stay organized
- Confident in independent working
- Trust in employees to complete tasks
Without these, it becomes nearly impossible to stay on task.
Not applicable for every position
There are some positions that lend itself well to working remotely, like creative or marketing roles, developers or software engineers, and some customer service positions. But other jobs, especially those that require a higher level of internet security, like in finance or accounting, won’t be applicable to move to their home offices. Will employees who can’t WFH feel like it’s unfair that others can? What perks can these employees be given to make up for this fact? How does it get decided who is eligible to work remotely? All these questions must be answered before implementing a remote work process.
Remote work has been a major topic of conversation since the emergence of the pandemic almost a year ago, yet it’s still hard to decipher whether it’s a positive or negative influence on businesses and employees. By weighing the pros and cons, you can begin to understand what’s right for you. But one thing is for sure, we don’t think it will go away any time soon.
Check out the third and final part of The Future of Work (From Home) series where we look at how the culture of remote work may impact the economy. Subscribe to the LGC blog to stay up to date.