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So you are thinking of taking the plunge and taking your career to a home office?
Or maybe you are an employer and you are toying with the idea of allowing your employees to work from their own home and want to know the advantages and disadvantages of working from home for both yourself as an employer and your employees?
There are serious benefits for both the employee and employer to be sure, but there are also negatives to take into account before you finally pull the trigger.
Let’s take a look at the advantages and disadvantages of working from home, many of which can, in fact, be a double-edged sword!
Advantages and disadvantages of working from home for employees
Here are the advantages of working from home
- More relaxed
- More organization
- Save money
- More time with family
- Fewer distractions
1. More relaxed
There is no doubt about it, you can relax better than anywhere in your own household so why not work there?
Add to this there are no cranky colleagues or bosses around to upset you and spy on your every move you’re onto a winner!
2. More organization
If you are the sort who likes to work in a spick and span workspace, this is also a benefit as you won’t have to deal with the mess that others leave around.
3. Save Money
You are probably just thinking about travel expenses here, but you can also take into account the expenses of eating out on lunch breaks and any clothing-related expenses.
On top of this, you can claim on your tax returns for part of your household being used for work. Not to mention expenses such as computers, software, and administration equipment.
If you work for a company remotely, don’t forget to inquire as to whether they should be paying for some of this stuff.
4. More Time with family
All that time you spend commuting can now be spent with loved ones.
Don’t want to get up early to work?
If you want to take time off during the day and do more in the evenings that is completely within your power. In theory, as long as you are hitting your work quota you can hammer your work out in a few days and take more days off. Want to take the laptop to the Bahamas and work by the sea? Ah, go on then… just make sure you are actually getting things done.
This is flexi-time at its best!
Oh, the joy of working in your bathrobe if the fancy takes you.
6. Fewer distractions
This, of course, depends on your household. But with regards to people asking you to help them with work-related things, it just doesn’t happen because they aren’t there!
Here are the disadvantages of working from home
- Separating home from work
- Less educational opportunity
- Loss of living space
- Isolation and loneliness
- More distractions
- Missed promotion opportunities
- Expense of setting up at home
If you are no good at taking control of your workload without the guidance of superiors, then working out of your home might be a mistake. Self-discipline is a must-have skill. If you don’t have it then set out to develop it.
2. Separating home from work
A lack of organization could also be a problem here if you are used to having your company’s policies and procedures to work to.
Some people just can’t turn the computer off once they have done their fair share for the day.
This might not be such a problem if you are working for somebody else, but when you are your own boss, running your own business it is easy to fall into the trap of overdoing it.
If you find it hard to shut down, an atmosphere where the doors close at 17:00 might be a benefit for you.
3. Less educational opportunity
A great benefit of working with good companies is that they will invest in your development. this goes out of the window if you are going it alone unless you are prepared to invest in yourself.
If your company doesn’t really help you out in this respect, however… no loss there then.
4. Loss of space at home
If you have a small living space, bear in mind this is going to impact you when you start setting up a desk space.
5. Isolation and loneliness
There is a lot to be said for being surrounded by smart driven people with similar goals and interests, some people thrive in this kind of workspace. If you are not the sort who likes their own company, a home office might not be an ideal working environment.
6. More distractions
Yes, fewer distractions were also a listed benefit, but if you have young children vying for your attention or noisy neighbors constantly disturbing you for example home working might be a recipe for disaster.
7. Missed promotion opportunities
We all know the saying “out of sight, out of mind”. This is definitely going to be a factor if you are not around and the boss isn’t seeing what a great job you are doing. Unless the whole team works remotely, don’t let this worry you, however.
8. Expense of setting up a home office
While this shouldn’t be a massive expense, be sure to plan for it. Write down a list of everything you need to finance to be able to operate effectively and make sure you can have access to it before you make the jump to working from home. This might include:
- Tables or desks
- Screens to work on (laptop or PC)
- Other office furniture such as cabinets
No, that doesn’t just mean a laptop and the sofa! For remote work you still need a decent office to work in so set yourself up with proper office furniture!
Remember also the advantages and disadvantages of working online from home. There are security issues to think about and address when some or all of your work is done on the internet. This is going to add to your expenses so don’t forget it.
Home office advantages and disadvantages for employers
As an employer, your concerns are likely a little different than that of the employee who would like to work from home so we won’t try selling you on the same points that your employees may find interesting.
If this is all new to you, don’t forget there is also the possibility to allow employees to work from home on a part-time basis or even on a full-time basis for a trial period to see how things go.
If things don’t work out they can resume their jobs in the office as usual.
Many of the above points play into the benefits for you the employer, so we won’t go over those again in great detail. We will point out however that it is up to you to judge the employees’ likelihood to succeed. Do they possess self-discipline in the workplace, to begin with? if not, it could be a mistake to allow them to work remotely.
Advantages of employees working from a home office
- Staff retention improves
- Possible growth in productivity
- Increased staff motivation
- Greater employee availability options
- Financial benefits
- Healthier employees
1. Staff retention improves
Many employees will stay with a company that allows remote work over one that does not for obvious reasons.
2. Possible growth in productivity
Many companies see an increase in employee output due to less distraction and more time spent at their job rather than commuting.
3. Increased staff motivation
Those given the opportunity to work from home may increase their output simply to prove this was a wise decision on the company’s part. Being allowed to work remotely, if the employee is up to the task, is great motivation to excel.
4. Greater employee availability options
Rather than having to hire employees within travel distance, you can source talent country, or even worldwide.
There is also the opportunity to employ those less able-bodied or disabled who are unable to or find difficulty in commuting along with parents who might otherwise find strict windows of time on when they can work, a problem.
5. Financial benefits
Lowered utility costs and less office space required. Sickness is also reduced.
6. Healthier employees
Remote workers are more likely to eat a healthy diet and exercise more often. On top of this, they are not exposed to the stress of commuting and do not come into contact with ill co-workers.
Disadvantages of employees working from home
- Difficulty monitoring performance
- Costs of remote working employees
- Staff development problems
- Security risks
- Communication problems
- Teamwork may suffer
1. Unable to monitor performance
This is, of course, a big one, hence the need for trial periods and perhaps the ability to request the employee return to the office space if remote performance is sub-standard.
2. Costs of remote working employees
Although this may be offset by lowered costs of office space, there may be health and safety issues to look into with regard to their workspace.
3. Staff development problems
If you are not bringing employees into the workplace for training, they may suffer developmentally over time.
4. Security risks
Information sharing over the internet rather than an intranet can pose security issues.
5. Communication problems
Explaining difficult concepts and ideas remotely could be a problem. This could be solved by face-to-face meetings when new projects are launched.
6. Teamwork may Suffer
This is not only the absence of ability for teams to interact and build a sense of camaraderie. If some employees are rejected for remote work opportunities it may lead to jealousy.
Finally, let’s not forget that aside from the more obvious pros and cons of remote working there are huge environmental benefits to think of. By making the move to allowing staff to work from the comfort of their own home you are helping to reduce your companies, and your employee’s carbon footprint.
Further reading & resources
Telework in corporate America
Global Workplace Analytics (Pros & Cons)
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