Pros and cons of working from home

Pros and cons of working from home

So there is still lots of talk on the working from home subject going. I promised my colleagues and myself when writing my last blog that I would go into further details on the pros and cons of working from home.

As this still seems to be the hot topic (I am having lots of discussions on this with colleagues, clients and contacts) and something I am very passionate about (not only as a champion of flexible working, but also of working from home/remotely) I would say dependant on the type of business, there are a number of advantages, including:

An increase in employee morale and increase in job satisfaction and productivity.  It is a known fact that when people want to do what they are doing and they are happy doing it, and in turn, from a working prospective produce better work. From a business point of view, this means you have a committed, motivated and productive workforce. Which is great business model right?

There was a survey conducted in Guernsey during lockdown by POS Interiors and PF&A that showed that 63% of people felt they were about the same, or even more productive working from home even with having to contend with home-schooling, so there is evidence to back this up.

You can attract and retain employees, which will give you a reduction in employee turnover. This will not only save you on recruitment and training costs but and will enhance your company reputation making you an employer of choice.

It has also been reported that working from home lowers levels of illness and stress for employees, which therefore can reduce employee absence levels.

There are potentially savings on costs and overheads, with less people in the office, you might need less desks and space, although bear in mind if employees are working at home on a permanent basis for a substantial part of their week they might need equipment at home as well in the office.

There are benefits for employees as well which could include a better work-life balance with lower levels of stress and illness possible. The same survey I mentioned above showed 65% of people felt that their work life balance improved in lockdown and some had even reported a positive impact on their mental health, with not having to rush to work or worry about parking (to name a few).

Working from home can also accommodate parents and carers who may have other responsibilities to manage. The flexibility of being based at home can allow them to fit other commitments around their work and make better use of their free time.

As always though, there are two sides to everything. Despite these many benefits, working from home does divide opinion and there are disadvantages that should certainly be considered.   

Whilst one of the advantages I mentioned above is the potential savings on costs with needing less actual desks in the office, do bear in mind if employees are working from home, either on a permanent basis, or only for part of their week they will need the right equipment at home to work and there could be cost implications for this.

Another implication is how to manage your employees. How can you manage your employees to ensure they are fulfilling contractual obligations and working the hours they should be? For example some people might just shirk their responsibilities or fudge their timesheets.

Whilst some employees enjoy autonomy there are some that may not work well without supervision. How would it work for trainees for example? Can they really be properly trained when they and or their line manager/mentor are not working in the same environment as them?

Will client availability suffer and can deadlines still be met?

Can you still get that same creativity that you get in the office where you bounce ideas off and collaborate with your colleagues?  This point was highlighted by one of my clients recently. Two new starters joined their company during lockdown, and whilst they were able to sufficiently train and support them, they have found now they are all back in the office working together that they developing at a greater pace. Also, what about the office banter? Yes, it can waste time in the office but it builds on team morale and relationships.  Whilst some might argue there is skype, zoom, teams and other endless applications that you can communicate via, I would say it is just not the same as face to face conversations.

And as I have said before there are just some industries where working from home is not suitable. Trade businesses for example, due to employees needing to be on site. This is the same with factories and commercial retail companies.

It all comes down to striking the right balance on what works for your company and your employees and really about working smarter.

I would advise any business who is looking at reviewing or implementing such scheme to really look at what they are doing and not to rush into something just because it is the ‘’trending’’ term right now.

As well as looking at the pros and cons to working from home there are also practicalities and legal duties that should be considered, but that’s for the next blog.

If this is something you would like to chat about further with me, please get in touch, it’s good to share our thoughts and ideas.