An unforeseen work-from-home revolution has caught many companies by surprise as most employees have now been forced to work from home. The likelihood of returning to the office any time soon seems very unlikely. So what are the pros and cons of working from home?
Working from home usually provides employees with greater autonomy over how and when they work, and also how they manage their lives and other responsibilities. Remote working also provides better job satisfaction, increased loyalty, lower absenteeism and less staff turnover.
Remarkably, research shows that there is an increase in performance for employees working from home. Airtasker surveyed about 1000 full-time employees in the US of which 50% worked remotely. They compared everything from their productivity to health and even their spending habits to determine whether working from the home or from the office is better.
The study showed that on average remote employees worked 1.4 more days per month or 16.8 more days per annum, than those who worked from an office. More importantly, they spent more time getting things done on those extra workdays.
Management should encourage their home workers to take breaks throughout the workday, especially when they feel drained or distracted. They can call a friend or take a walk in the garden or just grab a healthy snack and relax.
While remote workers normally take more breaks than office staff, research shows that taking breaks actually leads to increased productivity. According to the study, office workers spent an average of 37 minutes each workday not getting work done – excluding lunch and tea breaks. Remote workers only lost 27 minutes a day to distractions.
Maintain a good work-life balance
Working from home could be more stressful than working at the office. The study found that about 30 per cent of remote workers said they found it difficult to maintain a healthy work-life balance. Only 23 per cent of office workers reported the same challenge.
Fixed working hours
Business owners should also encourage their employees to have fixed working hours in order to stay productive at home. They should try to maintain the same schedule as to when they worked from an office, this routine will help them feel more structured and efficient.
The survey also shows that 30 per cent of homeworkers that kept track of their tasks with a to-do list were more productive. Management should encourage their remote workers to keep a task list and clearly define what they wish to accomplish each day.
Communication is more critical than ever when working remotely. Management should insist on set daily or weekly meetings so that the team can discuss and prioritise projects, and set deadlines to ensure everyone stays on track.
Not having to commute is one of the biggest benefits of working from home. According to the survey, commuting has led at least 25 per cent of staff quitting their jobs and many of the respondents said they would do anything to end their commute.
The average office worker spends at least 30 minutes commuting each day and this time on the road means increased fuel expenses, maintenance and repair costs. Airtasker says the average remote worker in the US saved more than $4 500 (R80 000) on annual fuel costs. The environmental benefits are also enormous.
Besides the enormous cost savings, home workers have more free time. On average, they managed to save 17 days free time from not commuting. According to the survey, this time was largely used for increased physical exercise.
People are now more conscious of health issues than ever before and illnesses spread far quicker when offices are pack with staff. Allowing employees to work from home also helps stop the spread of diseases like COVID-19.
With the current pandemic, many businesses have been forced to develop and implement work-from-home policies to ensure business continuity. If companies embrace this new norm, both employees and employers will benefit in future, especially if they can get the balance right.
By Nick Durrant, CEO of Bluegrass Digital
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