The pandemic has had many unexpected consequences, from the great toilet paper shortage to the return of endangered Ganges dolphins to the ghats of Kolkata. One that businesses hear about (and experience) regularly is the sudden move to remote work, which is still impacting almost all industries to some degree. Since most workers are getting used to the idea of working outside of the office—even if they haven’t yet tried it—it’s important to get to know the pros and cons because it’s only becoming more of a norm as we move into the 21st century.
Pros of Working from Home
Ask any employee commuting to work in rush hour traffic or who have ADHD cubicle neighbors, and you’ll get a whole list of work-from-home pros. But it’s not just frustrated employees who can benefit from this work arrangement, as the pros below illustrate:
- Greater work flexibility: Being mentally and emotionally flexible is a key to lower stress. The same can be said for your schedule. Those who work from home gain the flexibility to organize everything from their work hours to their work environment. Running out for an essential errand, like picking up the kids from school, becomes easily doable with basic planning. Which results in higher employee morale and satisfaction. As a matter of fact, improved work flexibility is among the main reasons why 77 percent of employees say that being able to work from home makes them happier.
- Access to talent from anywhere: Employers who embrace remote work can theoretically recruit talent from anywhere. This advantage can be especially important for small and medium-sized businesses, whose limited financial resources may not allow them to recruit local talent, especially if they’re based in an area with particularly high costs of living.
- Decreased work-related expenses: When getting to work means swapping pajamas for sweatpants and opening a laptop while eating breakfast in the kitchen, employees can save a substantial amount of money they would otherwise have to spend on everything from work clothes to gas to restaurant food. Best of all, employers can save money too because they can downsize their office footprint, something nearly 50 percent of companies expect to do in the near future.
- Improved inclusion and diversity: According to statistics published by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than six million people in the United States labor force have some form of physical or mental disability. For these potential job candidates, the traditional office environment presents many obstacles, which they don’t have to deal with when working from their homes.
- Fewer distracting interactions: There’s no mute button in real life. The problem is that some people could use one. Even without sharing the same office space with an overly chatty coworker, there are still many other workplace distractions that make it difficult for employees to concentrate on their work. Remote work effectively removes these distractions by allowing employees to work from anywhere they want.
Cons of Working from Home
So far, we’ve made working from home seem like a win-win arrangement for both employees and their employers, but just like everything in life and business, the reality isn’t so rosy. The fact is that for every advantage, there’s an equally important disadvantage, including the following ones:
- Costly equipment and its maintenance: Remote employees can’t work with a pen and paper alone. They need computers, smartphones, and network equipment. What’s more, someone needs to provide IT support to keep all their devices and the software in working order, which is why most remote and hybrid-remote companies partner with managed service providers.
- Limited collaboration and communication: Some employees find the ability to organize a quick group meeting or tap a colleague on the shoulder to discuss the task at hand essential for getting things done. Yes, digital collaboration and communication tools are now readily available and are improving at a rapid pace, but they still don’t provide a complete substitute for physical interactions—maybe virtual reality will change that.
- Feelings of isolation and loneliness: It’s one thing to work from a house full of family members, and it’s something else entirely to work alone from a small apartment. Remote employees who find themselves in the latter situation can experience feelings of isolation and loneliness, especially during times like these, when the opportunities for socializing are still limited in many parts of the world.
- Security and compliance challenges: It’s difficult enough for organizations to protect themselves against increasingly sophisticated cybersecurity threats and maintain compliance with regulatory requirements when all employees work from the same place. But when there’s no clearly defined perimeter to defend, a whole new set of security and compliance challenges appear.
- Blurred work-life boundaries: When work and personal life are physically separated from each other by a lengthy commute, switching between them is easier than when they’re just a few steps away. The lack of clearly defined work-life boundaries can lead to mental stress and overworking, both of which are guaranteed to negatively impact employee productivity and satisfaction.
So, What’s the Verdict?
Like all transitions, it takes effort to get good at something new. Just because someone thrives in an office environment and they like the benefits of remote work, doesn’t mean they’ll instantly take to working from home. There’s a strategy and an art to it, just ask any successful remote worker.
The good news is that most efforts can be—at least to some extent—addressed by providing the right technology to support remote employees, making them more secure, connected, and satisfied when spending time in their home offices.
That’s exactly what managed service providers do. We can assess your current office and remote work modes, get a full picture of your security, install the best solutions for safety and connectivity, all while enabling your workers to perform at the best of their abilities. By taking advantage of our broad range of IT services at one low monthly price, you can reap the pros of work from home while avoiding the cons.
Contact us by phone or email to get the ball rolling.