As the coronavirus pandemic is swiftly spreading throughout the world, we are witnessing creative ways of curbing the disease. Social distancing, flattening the curve, and self-isolation are some of the words added to everyone’s dictionaries in recent times. One of the ways to stop further spreading of this disease has been by placing in measures like the work from home policy. Companies like Google, Amazon, and Twitter have encouraged their staff members to stay at home and work remotely whenever possible. Is this the future of how businesses will run? Only time can test this theory.
WHAT DOES WORKING FROM HOME MEAN?
Work from home or remote work is when an employee of a company, institution or organization works mostly from their place of residence or a chosen location. The person does not work in an office environment and ideally, operates virtually. This can also be termed as telecommuting, telework, mobile or flexible work.
IS WORKING FROM HOME A PASSING TREND?
The emergence of efficient technology has made it more accessible to work from home. A Reuter’s poll revealed that around one in five people around the globe telecommute frequently and about 10 percent work from home. Sectors like information technology, automotive, and media houses have the advantage of operating their businesses digitally. And they are recognizing the needs of their employees. LinkedIn’s 2019 Global Talent Trends Report discloses that in the last two years, there has been an increase of 24 percent of people who consider work flexibility as an important factor when considering a new job. Some even observe April 10th as ‘Global Work from Home Day’. Traditional ideas of a workspace have broadened and people are willing to explore newer avenues. This trend is surely not showing any signs of going away.
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ADVANTAGES OF WORK FROM HOME
One of the biggest advantages of the work from home policy is how cost-effective it is. Both employers and employees can equally benefit from this practice. For instance, the multinational company, Dell claims that more than 65 percent of their global team members work in a flexible capacity. This reduces their logistical costs of workspaces, equipment, utilities and labor. E-commerce website, Shopify is giving their employees $1000 each to set up their workspace at home during coronavirus spread. This is a great step towards mitigating future healthcare expenses while keeping the employees safe. Working from home is budget-friendly for employees too. It greatly cuts down on their commuting expense. While away at work earlier, they had to make arrangements for their dependents like children, older parents, and pets. Work from home saves them money and ensures that they do not compromise on spending quality time with their families and friends.
Work from home policy helps people work in flexible environments. People who are unable to physically operate in office spaces get an opportunity to work. Stay at home parents, disabled persons, and people with chronic illnesses are some that benefit from work from home. Earlier, they would have to lose out on work that they were equally qualified for only because of the inaccessibility of office spaces. Work from home has made jobs and advancing careers more inclusive.
The environment created by working from home can be relaxing for most. Work stress reduces manifold for most employees. This is because there is lesser competition to do better than your work colleagues, no looming pressure of deadlines, and no intimidating office cubicles. Emphasis on taking care of one’s mental health is being recognized as much as taking care of one’s physical health. So this is an excellent way to minimize work-related stresses. Additionally, the time saved on commuting to the workplace can be judiciously utilized for work.
Work from home also means you are physically cut off from your superiors as well as your work colleagues. It is important to have a rapport with your team and to keep them in the loop. To compensate for the physical presence, employees and employers have to maintain communication through regular email check-ins, video conferencing, and phone calls. It has not been easier to get instant follow-ups with the help of speedy internet connectivity. This is a great skill to hone and a great team-building exercise.
The majority of employees commute long hours, some through multiple modes of transport, to get to their workplace. Work from home could mean that this commute gets eliminated. This can result in the reduction of greenhouse emissions, fuel consumption, and electricity wastage making it a sustainable lifestyle.
DISADVANTAGES OF WORK FROM HOME
No Work-Life Balance
When your place of residence and your workplace are the same, it is very difficult to have any work-life balance. The line between your professional life and your personal life invariably intermingles. Access to high-speed internet has kept us all hyper-connected. Though, working virtually has not proved to be as effective as face-to-face interactions where there is more clarity and seamless communication. It is also very difficult for an employee to gauge their personal growth or performance as they are working remotely. No motivation to get the work done is another disadvantage of the work from home policy. Employers are known to disregard the official office timings and can expect employees to work round the clock, which further can hinder their said performance. This will not only affect the employees adversely but also the companies they work for.
Focusing on getting the work done at home can be a real challenge with distractions hovering around you. This is additionally tempting because there is no one to monitor you at home while you work. Distractions can be as small as the noise of the ceiling fan or as big as a newborn baby needing constant attention. The motivation to get your work done dwindles when you are surrounded by household chores that need to be ticked off. Some employees may not be able to function to their fullest potential while at home due to various personal reasons. As a result, they can show a decrease in their positive contribution towards the companies’ growth.
Not Accessible to All
Some employees and workers do not have the luxury or the privilege to avail of work from home. People working in the tertiary sector (the service sector) like the hospitality and fashion industries, legal services, tourism, are required to go into their workplace and interact with their customers and clients. Among these are risky professions like law enforcement and healthcare professionals. Therefore, in times of global crisis like the coronavirus, these frontliners must be protected.
Over-reliance on Technology
Our lives now revolve around technology from the moment we wake up to when we fall asleep. We rely on or phones, laptops, televisions, and tablets to carry out all of our work. This over-reliance on technology can be detrimental to our health if we do not keep a check on it. Working from home translates to being tied digitally for most of the day. In the longer run, this can adversely affect your growth as an individual and as an employee.
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Pros and Cons of Work from Home
|No Work-Life Balance|
|Not Accessible to All|
Over-Reliance on Technology