The remote work reality is a bit different from the “dream” of remote work, as many of us found out during 2020. While there are definitely upsides to working from home, there are also downsides.
To ensure a happy, healthy remote working experience, managers and employees should start by understanding the reality of remote working, especially if they plan to continue working from home in the future.
The Remote Work Reality vs. the Remote “Dream” – Pros and Cons of WFH
Email has been around forever, but with the advent of cloud software, distributed workers can work from any location, without face-to-face interaction. While it is true that telecommuting and flexible work schedules have existed for some time, digital innovation has enabled workplaces to become fully remote.
On the surface, remote working sounds like an excellent idea. After all, you can work from your living room, your home office, a cafe, or anywhere you choose. And for the most part, employees enjoy remote working.
Yet there are downsides to be aware of.
Below, will explore a few of the advantages and disadvantages of remote working, then will look at a few strategies for solving them.
Pros of Working from Home
Here are a few of the most commonly cited advantages of working from home:
Naturally, when people work from home, they don’t have to commute to the office.
On the one hand, this means that employees don’t have to sit in traffic on the way to work every day. On the other, it means that they don’t have to pay for gas bills and their vehicle will suffer less wear and tear.
The bottom line outcome is less stress and more time for oneself.
The ability to work from anywhere
The ability to work from anywhere means several things.
One major benefit is that people can work from locations that are more comfortable to them, including their home, a café, or a coworking space.
For fully remote workers, the ability to work from anywhere also means they can have more choices of where they actually live – when they don’t need to go to an office, they aren’t necessarily required to live in the same city as their employer.
Spending more time with family and friends
When you work from home, you can naturally spend more time with your family.
This is one of the most common perks cited by research surveys that cover remote work.
Fewer distractions from coworkers
Working from home can be a less distracting environment.
After all, you don’t have coworkers, meetings, and telephone calls constantly interrupting you. However, as we’ll see below, remote work does come with its own distractions.
Overall, employees are more productive when they work from home.
A number of surveys have confirmed this, which demonstrates that remote working is not only valuable for employees, but also for enterprises. That being said, there is a distinction between productivity levels depending on the skills of the employee in question, as PwC discovered.
Cons of Working from Home
Now let’s look at some of the downsides of remote work, which can include:
One of the biggest advantages of working in the office is the social background noise that comes with the remote workplace. Teams can continually interact and form bonds that do not get formed by remote workers.
Social isolation, however, is one of remote workers’ most common complaints. Since they don’t actually have normal social interaction with their teams, it can be detrimental to employees’ emotional health, social bonds, and the organizational culture.
More distractions at home
While coworkers can be distracting, so too can family members. If steps are not taken, those family members can prove just as distracting, if not more distracting, than the distractions in the workplace.
Also, OfficeNeedle has discovered that employees can suffer a wider range of distractions at home, which can include cell phones, cooking, household chores, and even getting drunk or high on office time.
Poor home office setups
Not everyone has a home office, and many have reported working from couches, closets, and beds, according to a survey from CraftJack.
These poor setups can create discomfort, pain, or even health problems.
Difficulty collaborating with coworkers
Another common complaint of full-time remote workers, per Buffer’s research, is that employees find it more difficult to collaborate remotely.
Common reasons for this include difficulty learning new digital tools, changes to communication styles, and working with team members in different time zones.
Complex digital workflows
For many, the remote work reality includes the adoption of new technologies and tools.
This means that employees must not only have access to a new tool set, they must also learn to collaborate with those tools.
To complicate matters further, managers must find ways to train employees remotely, which is why many companies have realized the value of remote training software such as digital adoption platforms.
For several years, remote working has been increasing in popularity. Yet as we all know, the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the adoption of remote work. Almost overnight, companies around the world implemented telecommuting policies across their workforces.
Although the future of work may not be remote, it will be hybrid. That is, it will include more remote working and more flex time.
Since this new remote work reality is inevitable, in the years ahead, managers and employees should both look at the pros and the cons of remote work in order to stay productive and happy.
Chris is the Lead Author & Editor of Change Blog. Chris established the Change blog to create a source for news and discussion about some of the issues, challenges, news, and ideas relating to Change Management.