Homeworking: the pros and cons for employees & employers

Working from home

Many organisations have adopted policies to allow staff members to have the option to work from home. It is becoming increasingly possible to adopt this model of flexible working as we advance in technology such as email, cheap fax machines, internet and voice mail.

People don’t need to travel long distances to get into work which can be ideal for some employees, especially those who have family.  There can be many enjoyable advantages of working at home but there also can be come cons. In this blog we look at the advantages and disadvantages of working from home, for both employers and employees.

Working from home: the pros

Reduced costs

Employees: There are so many hidden costs that you will encounter when you work from an employer’s office. Most people will have to pay for the costs to travel to and from work, whether this is bus, train or car. If you have to travel by car you will encounter the highest costs such as fuel, parking, road taxes – and if your car has any problems that need fixing immediately, you’ll have to spend on repairs. In addition, some people have uniform or a suit which will need dry cleaning regularly. Working from home saves on these costs, and additionally can save on childcare for older children. If you have younger children, you’ll still need to arrange childcare so that you can do your work without interruption.

Employers: Less desk space and furniture is needed, so you’ll immediately make cost savings.

Flexibility

Employees: One great advantage of working from home is having the flexibility to work the hours that are most convenient to you (depending on the arrangement that you have with your employer). You can also choose where to work, whether this is at home or even comfortably sat in a café having some coffee.  The best part of working from home is you can control your surroundings – no more sitting at a desk shivering because the air con is pointing straight at you. You can decide which environment you feel most productive and happy working in.

Employers: Happy employees are more productive – giving people the flexibility to work in the environment they feel most comfortable in will get you the best results. You’ll also find that employees love their job far more with a great work-life balance. If you’re concerned about monitoring your staff, you’ll be glad to know there’s plenty of technology that allows you to know what your employee is doing when they’re on the clock.

Fewer distractions

Employees: Being in an office with a number of people around you can be extremely distracting, especially when your colleagues next to you are chatting loudly.  There will be countless interruptions and unnecessary meetings which aren’t ideal when you are trying to stay focused. This can all be bypassed when you are working in your own environment.

Employers: Fewer bodies in the office means a quieter work environment for those who need to be there. Fewer distractions at home means that your remote workers get more done.

Close to home

Employees: Being at home whist working can give you more confidence, especially if you are married or have children. Countless parents and carers would love to be close to their family as it can be very comforting know they are there if their family needs them. This doesn’t just apply when you have children but can also apply when you have elderly family.

Employers: You’ll know that employing busy mums and dads or carers will inevitably mean the occasional phone call to deal with a family situation – whether it’s a child with chicken pox or a forgotten lunch box. With your employees working at home, those family matters can be dealt with immediately, taking less time out of the working day.

Lower stress levels

Employees: There are a number of things that can cause stress in the office such as co-workers you may not get on with, consistent interruptions or even a substandard work environment. Most stress can be caused even before you have started your day, especially if you have children to think about too. Getting through busy traffic in the morning rush hour can irritate and wear workers out before they even arrive at work.

Employers: Employees who are less stressed will be more productive. Allowing homeworking some or all of the time not only reduces the homeworker’s stress but also reduces the levels of stress in the office, creating a quieter, calmer environment for those who need to be there.

Increased productivity

Employees: When you are in the comfort of your own home, you tend to feel much happier and work more efficiently. There isn’t anyone there constantly looking over your shoulder and making you feel uncomfortable. With no stresses or distractions, you’ll have a clear head and nothing to interrupt you and your work.

Employers: Even if you let your employees customise their desk space or office, it will never quite replace the feeling of being at home. Relaxed and comfortable, your employees will be more productive. If you’re concerned they won’t truly integrate into the team, it’s good to know that today’s communications technology allows your employee to work as if they’re sitting in the room next to you.

Better health

Employees: It is estimated around 1-3 hours a day is spent on travelling to and from work. In this time you can feel mentally and physically drained from the journey and this can impact your work significantly. The time usually spent on travelling can be put to better use, maybe going to the gym after work and doing some physical exercise. This will be much needed when you’ve been sitting in a chair all day and need to stretch your legs. A further benefit to your health is less exposure to the barrage of germs that float around the office, and reduced exposure to air conditioning which can cause all sorts of problems.

Employers: Healthy employees have less sick days and work harder than sick employees. Incentivise your homeworking employees to go to the gym instead of travelling to the office and you’ll reap the benefits when it comes to your sick pay bill.

A better work-life balance

Employees: There is no word of a doubt that working at home makes you more flexible as you can be in or out of office whenever is required. It gives you the perfect balance to fit with your normal everyday life for a modern professional.

Employers: Giving your team a better work life balance means they will be happier, healthier and more relaxed. Ultimately, this means they will be more productive.

Working from home: the cons

Feeling alone

One main disadvantage of working from home means you don’t have any direct contact with anyone else, unless you have family at home. Quite a lot of people like to go to work to meet new people and see colleagues who they are friends with. This can be quite lonely for some; it means that you need to come up with ideas to stay in touch with co-workers and finding new ways to meet new people. With today’s communications technology, this can easily be overcome.

Distractions

Working at home does remove you from office distractions but new distractions at home can emerge. Whilst you will understand that you can’t be interrupted, your family, friends and neighbours may not recognise that you are busy in the same way. They can interrupt you with questions or surprise visits which mean you will have to stop working to attend to their needs. Designating an area of the home as a home office can overcome this issue – this gives people a clear message that whilst you’re in your office space, they may not contact you.

Problems separating work from home

There are so many temptations that come with working from home that doing work can become not a high priority in your mind. You may want to do the shopping, care for your children, clean or cook. Trying to avoid this can be quite difficult as you feel obliged to get jobs done, but there needs to be a line between work commitments and home responsibilities. Carefully blocking off your time and designating separate office space can help you stay focused on the job at the right time.

Work never ends

You may feel like because you are working at home and have no one to tell you what to do, you put more pressure on yourself to get more work done. Being a home-worker may make you feel like you have to demonstrate your work capabilities to show you don’t need to be in the office. Overworking can be dangerous and cause you to work endlessly throughout each day. The key to avoiding this is blocking off work time and sticking strictly to the schedule.

Missing daily company updates

There may be things which you don’t hear about till much later if you work from home. You may miss the meeting on new company changes, or even chat in the office about new developments. They may not be extremely important to you but they may be good to know about and not hearing about them can make you feel alienated from the company. Your employer can do a lot to counter this – with regular face-to-face meetings using technology, a company intranet and newsletter, and regular opportunities for you to get together with the rest of the team.

Missing promotions

You’ve heard the saying ‘out of sight, out of mind’ – and this applies here. There is a real danger of being overlooked for promotions and career development opportunities while you are away from the office, leaving other more visible employees to actively hunt down the better positions. The key to tackling this issue is to ensure that an open line of communication exists with management and you continue to make regular visits to the office. You also need to ensure that your employer is aware of your results, together with your commitment to your career.

The need for self-discipline

If you want to work from home you need to make sure that you have enough self-discipline to keep motivated to get started on and complete your work. It can be very hard to make sure you work enough hours and don’t get easily distracted. Remain in touch with your company and make sure you are reporting each piece of work you do, especially where it brings good results.

“Should I work from home?”

Working at home can be extremely beneficial for some people – but others can’t handle the self-discipline required. There are countless benefits but it does require a focused mindset to make this work. Ask yourself if the work lifestyle fits well with being at home and whether you can work efficiently enough. If so, then working at home could be for you.

If you decide to give homeworking a try, it is important to act like you are in the office and not at home. Make sure you report back to your supervisor as often as possible to let them know you are being productive and consistent with your hours. Another good tip is to get dressed as you would if you were going to work; it helps you be more productive and helps you think you are actually doing work like in the office.

To find out more about how technology can support homeworkers, click here, or call us today on 01623 687750 / email sales@nottel.co.uk.