This has become the greatest debate since COVID came and went. It’s dividing the globe, even dividing team members within businesses. Business owners and those in leadership roles are grappling with how to handle it and determining what is ‘best’ for their business.
So what are the primary positives and negatives people should be aware of:
Positive aspects of working from home:
- Flexibility: Remote work offers greater flexibility in terms of working hours and location. This may enable the person to spend more time with family, fitness or enjoying their hobbies/passions.
- Commute time: For many living in a large city, the commute to and from work can consume two hours of their day. Like the flexibility point noted above, these two hours (ten over a week), can be spent more productively.
- Increased productivity: Some people find they are more productive when working from home due to fewer distractions and interruptions from people around them and a loud office environment.
- Reduced office-related expenses: As a business owner, there are considerable savings to be had when you no longer need to house your full team. Smaller office space, less equipment, less power usage etc.
Negative aspects of working from home:
- Lack of face-to-face interaction: This is a big one. Isolation can lead to mental health problems as the person lacks meaningful, fun and engaging interactions with other human beings. It can devastate a teams culture as we no longer build bonds with our colleagues. We lose the skillset of communication. When the person has lost their confidence to connect, or even the basic skill, it can be damaging to client and team relationships.
- Blurred boundaries: Without clear separation between work and personal life, it can be challenging to establish work-life boundaries. This can result in longer working hours or difficulties disconnecting from work-related matters. Many thought the biggest challenge was going to be getting people to work when at home. It turns out the biggest challenge for many, is ensuring your team are not over working and burning out.
- Distractions at home: While working from home, you may face distractions from family members, pets, household chores, television or other temptations. This will reduce the productivity of the person and likely the quality of work being produced.
- Dependence on technology: Remote work heavily relies on technology for communication and collaboration. Technical issues aside, this leans into the face-to-face concerns. A person can become comfortable with screen conversations, but then lacks the confidence or skill to have a conversation face to face. Vital when delivering bad news or trying to win a new opportunity.
What about health?
- Sedentary lifestyle: Working from home often results in sitting for prolonged periods, which can contribute to a sedentary lifestyle. Lack of physical activity increases the risk of various health issues, including obesity and cardiovascular disease. I would encourage everyone to buy a sit-stand desk and set a reminder to MOVE every 45 minutes.
- Social isolation and mental health: Working from home can contribute to social isolation and a sense of loneliness, particularly if there is limited interaction with colleagues and a lack of face-to-face communication. Feelings of isolation can negatively impact mental health, leading to increased stress, anxiety, and depression.
- Lack of routine and structure: Without the structure and routine provided by the need to commute into an office, take a formalised lunch break and commute home again, the commitment to things like physical activity falls away as many will do this on their lunch break or after work. When at home, the impact of those ‘temptations’ around them can result in moving/training falling into the ‘to hard basket’.
No matter what your view, I mean your personal view on what works for you, I encourage you to think about the broader team, the broader business and what is best….healthiest…..most productive for them. As a team member and human being.