Is Working From Home the Future of Work?
Working from home has been gaining in popularity in recent times – the office model of work seemed to be shifting, at least in part, towards remote work. The global pandemic was the impetus for the immediate shift to remote positions, but the change was not natural; as such, there has not been enough time to gauge all of the upsides and downsides of working from home.
As of right now, we cannot be sure what the future of work will look like and how prominent working from home will, but we can make an educated guess based on the experiences of remote workers and their employers.
In a short amount of time, working from home has shown to have major advantages for both employers and employees. Employers can reduce costs and have a wider pool of workers to choose from, while employees can be more productive and satisfied.
Additionally, remote work is environmentally friendly. Due to the positive aspects of remote work, it would not be surprising if these positions became permanent, even after the pandemic. Here are some benefits of working from home.
One of the greatest benefits for employers, when they have a substantial portion of their staff working from home, is the reduction in office costs. Renting and maintaining office space is an expense you would gladly do without, if it were possible. Well, a remote workforce allows you to do this.
Regardless of whether your entire workforce or just a part of it, is working from home, you can downsize office space and save money. The reduction in maintenance work, bills, and rent will give you significantly wider profit margins.
The cost of commuting and parking space also goes down. Especially in large urban areas, renting parking space can not only make a dent in your yearly budget, but just finding appropriate parking space for your company can cause you much grief.
Working from home will cut the cost of parking, and, possibly, do away with the commute expenses of your workers altogether. Depending on the percentage of your employees who are working from home, you will see a significant increase in your company budget.
Additionally, many surveys report that remote employees are so satisfied with their new positions that they would be willing to take a pay cut of up to 10 percent to make their positions permanent. Paying lower wages for the same, or greater output is a direct financial benefit for any company.
Working from home can increase productivity, if the employees are supplied with the appropriate training and tools. If you have started working from home recently, you have seen first-hand that there are some challenges to overcome; but, once you manage to overcome them, your output increases substantially.
The lack of commuting provides you with around two hours of free time daily. Regardless of whether you use that time to sleep in or start working immediately, you are more efficient. Driving to work, or using public transit, can be a stressful experience, and by the time you get to the office, you have already expended mental energy. Working from home allows you to redirect that energy into your job.
Remote work usually allows a flexible schedule, which means that you can work when you are the most focused, increasing the quality of your work. Initially, having to structure your day can be difficult, but with a bit of planning and experience, it becomes natural.
Working from home you won’t need to push yourself when you are feeling tired – you can take prolonged breaks and start working again once you feel up to it. You will still need to finish projects on time, but that doesn’t mean sitting at the computer from nine to five; start working earlier, take a lunch and nap break, and finish the work in the evening.
You can also customize your home office so that it helps you focus; plus, there will be no office distractions that break your concentration. Whether you like a lot of plants, a sterile environment, or a lot of colors – the choice is yours. Find what helps you be productive and set it up.
Larger Talent Pool and Employee Retention
Work from home enables you to hire a more diverse and qualified workforce. No longer will you have to search for the most qualified candidates in commuting distance, but can expand your hiring globally. A larger pool of workers to choose from will allow you to hire the best workers, possibly at a lower cost.
The advancement of technology allows people from different continents to collaborate without much issue. Additionally, language barriers are becoming much less of a problem. Most people start getting educated in the most spoken languages at an early age, and many online courses can improve their language use.
One of the major concerns for employers is retaining their most qualified and experienced workers. It often involves financial incentives and better work conditions, which can be a burden to provide. Remote workers report higher job satisfaction and are less likely to quit.
Often, the most experienced employees get tired of commuting and spending their days at the office. Offering them work-from-home positions can help you retain them, even if part-time. To sum it up, opening remote positions will enable you to hire a more qualified workforce, while helping you retain your best workers.
Environmental protection and energy conservation are major issues of the modern era, and working from home can help with both, without having to make any sacrifices. The lack of commuting will significantly cut down the pollution caused by motor vehicles; fewer vehicles will be driven and traffic will be much lighter, allowing for shorter operating times for vehicles that are on the road.
The need for parking space will decrease, which is a major issue in highly populated areas. This space can be reappropriated by the community – you will be able to see more parks, playgrounds, and community centers; surely a welcome sight.
Working from home comes with its own set of disadvantages. Some of them, like equipping and training the workers, are easy to deal with, while others will be harder to manage. The impact working from home will have on the long-term mental health of remote employees is a major question that will need to be addressed, if telecommuting is to become the future of work.
Training and Tools
Working from home en masse will pose certain challenges at the beginning. Employers will need to provide training, guidance, and appropriate tools for their employees, in order for them to be efficient. A computer with the required specifications is the basis for working from home, and, depending on the situation, the employer may need to provide it.
After this initial investment, you will need to have the right software to do your job effectively. Luckily, there is a multitude of collaboration and communication platforms available, so your employer can choose a suitable one. Most of them are intuitive and easy to use, but if you are expected to perform complex tasks, training will need to be provided.
Additional guidance on how to handle the transition and help with structuring your workday would be advisable if you are expected to be productive from the start. These are all challenges that come with remote work, but all of them can be overcome without too much trouble.
Lack of Community
The lack of community and the feeling of solitude that can happen as a result of working from home is a serious downside. Most people socialize at work, and while you may not love your co-workers, they provide you with a sense of belonging and daily communication.
Working from home can cause you to feel isolated, which will invariably have negative repercussions on your mental state. An increased effort on your part to communicate with your co-workers and friends will be needed to alleviate the negative effects. Additionally, companies can redirect their HR staff to provide counseling to people working remotely.
Getting yourself motivated to work can be a problem when you are working from home. There is no direct oversight from your superiors, and distractions are abundant if you haven’t set up your home office properly.
That Netflix show that you haven’t been able to catch, the game that’s on TV, or even cleaning the dishes can all seem like more appealing prospects than your job. When you know that you don’t have to do the work-related tasks right away, it can easily lead you to procrastinate, making you less efficient.
Good planning and structuring your day can help with this problem – set up daily milestones and do your work at certain times of the day until it becomes a habit and a structure naturally forms. You can also ask a friend to check up on you daily. This will help you stick to the plan.
Managing and Communication
Managing remote workers can be hard to do at times. All of the communication software and devices are of no use if the employee is not answering. While in an office, direct contact is always possible – simply go to the office and communicate what needs to be done; remote work makes this impossible.
This downside of working from home can be alleviated with good planning. Designate half an hour daily when every worker should be online and available, and have them stick to the plan. This will help set up a structure that can facilitate managing remote workers.
In the near future, working from home will become much more prominent. As employers and employees become more experienced with remote positions, new solutions will be found to alleviate the negative aspects of remote work. The clear benefits of work-from-home, coupled with the knowledge of how to reduce the downsides, will lead to working from becoming the future of work.
Interview with Elena Dimoska- Co-founder & CEO @ Ignite Global Media
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