The Pros and Cons of Working from Home – And How to Address the Cons!
by Shaundalee Carvalho | Published On July 29, 2022
Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, society has seen significant growth in the prevalence of remote work. In the early days, it was considered a necessity for limiting the spread of the virus and supporting public health initiatives. Today, however, this is not generally the case. With widespread vaccines and the reduction or elimination of public safety guidelines originally put in place to stop the spread, remote work is no longer considered necessary.
Employees are free to go back to the office again. However, many don’t want to. Fortunately, technologies like unified communications and other tools for virtual meetings mean that many don’t have to. For example, a contact center employee using cloud contact center technology can take calls from anywhere with an internet connection, meaning they can work from almost anywhere. Some companies have even already abolished their offices and switched to a permanent remote model.
However, that’s not to say that there aren’t reasons to go back to the office. As with many things, there are advantages and disadvantages to remote work. If you’re considering making the switch to a fully remote (or hybrid) workplace, you need to consider both sides. Read on to learn some of the pros and cons of remote work, and how to address the cons if you do make the switch.
Remote work offers plenty of opportunities for cost savings, for both the employee and the employer. In the short term, employees save money commuting to work. Whether they’re spending money on gas, transit fares, cabs, or rideshares, most employees have to spend money to get to work every day.
Similarly, employees can save money on various other expenses associated with working in an office, like professional attire and shoes, meals and coffees near the office, and more.
Employees and employers can realize even further cost savings in the long term. Employers can reduce office rent and overhead expenses by moving to a smaller office with fewer people in the office each day. They may even be able to dedicate these savings to worker salaries, helping them to attract and retain top talent.
Meanwhile, if employees are working from home on a permanent basis, their reduced driving needs can be factored into their car insurance policy to help them get better rates. They could even move further away from their office, allowing them the flexibility to move to a new city with a lower cost of living.
Eliminating an employee's commute not only saves them money but saves them time as well. Even a short commute, done twice a day, five days a week, can add up. So when an employee spends less time en route to work, they have more time for exercise, hobbies, relaxing, and whatever else they may want to use their personal time for. And who doesn't wish they could sleep in a little later on weekdays?
Spend more time with loved ones
In today's work-from-home world, it's not uncommon to have a partner or roommate who works from home too. Additionally, you may have children at home because they're too young for school, doing online school, or on a school break. If you have a family or roommates at home, spending your workdays at home means you get to spend more time with them. Taking your coffee breaks with your partner or playing with your kids or furry friends during your lunch break can help you clear your head and relieve some stress before getting back to work.
Lack of boundaries
Bringing work into your personal space can make it tough to separate your work time from your personal time. You may find it difficult to concentrate at work with so many elements of your personal life surrounding you. Maybe you can't help but spot the dishes in the sink that need to be washed. Or maybe the magazine you left on your coffee table is calling your name when you're supposed to be working.
Similarly, having your work open and readily available in your home during the evening can keep you in work mode when it's time to wind down and enjoy some time for yourself. This lack of clear boundaries can negatively impact your work-life balance, leading to burnout.
How to deal with it: Since working from home makes it harder to separate your work from your personal life, the best way to deal with it is to find some other way to create that division.
- Physical separation - If you have the space in your home, it's extremely helpful to dedicate a room to work only. Having a dedicated room at home can create the same physical boundaries that working from an office would provide. Keep the room free of distractions and shut the door behind you when you're done work for the day.
Of course, having a separate home office is not realistic for everyone, but there are other ways to create physical separation. A standing room divider can help you create a separate workspace, similar to a separate room, but on a smaller scale. Turning your desk to face the wall rather than the rest of the room can help minimize distractions. Even closing your laptop and putting it in a drawer at the end of your workday can help you create and stick to boundaries, much like a closed door.
- Dress for work - Rolling out of bed and starting work in your pyjamas might sound nice. But it can also hinder the creation of boundaries. Instead, make sure you put on real clothes and get ready for the day as if you were going out in public. It helps put you in a professional mindset and get you ready for productivity. No matter how small or insignificant they seem, finding ways to separate work time from personal time matters.
- Adhere to a strict schedule - Remote work inherently has more flexibility than working in a traditional office setting. But that flexibility can be a problem when it causes the lines between your work life and personal life to blur. You can address this by creating a strict schedule and sticking to it. Designating specific start times, end times, and break times in your workday can prevent you from accidentally taking an extended lunch or working until bedtime. You can even set alarms to remind yourself when it's time to switch from work to personal time and vice versa.
- Create a commute replacement - Even though your commute can cost you time and money, one great benefit is that it provides a routine that helps you transition between your work and personal time. Finding an alternative routine that you do at the beginning and end of each workday can have the same effect. For example, taking a 10-minute walk around the block before and after work can act as a "commute" and help you to mentally transition like a real commute would. Alternatively, use the time for meditation, yoga, journaling, or any other short task that you can do daily to help divide up your day.
Lack of face-to-face connections and support
Despite all the benefits of remote work, one of the major disadvantages is a lack of connection with co-workers. Teams chats simply can't replace face-to face connections. And these connections are important, both professionally and socially.
In a professional sense, collaboration and brainstorming can often be done more effectively in a natural, face-to-face discussion than by email or instant message. Similarly, the social connections you build with co-workers can help you enjoy your work more and help you feel more fulfilled in your work life. Unfortunately, these connections just don't come as naturally with remote work.
How to deal with it: Although connections with co-workers don't happen as easily or as naturally with remote work as they do in a traditional office setting, they're not impossible to achieve. You just have to make a little extra effort.
- Schedule regular team check-ins - Since remote work prevents you from being able to just turn to your co-worker at the next desk when you have a question or want to discuss something, scheduling regular check-ins can provide an opportunity to address all those little things and ensure that you maintain open communication with your team.
- Schedule social time - When you work in an office, you naturally create social bonds with co-workers over coffee, during lunches, or just while sitting near each other. Scheduling time to get together and not talk about work – whether in-person or virtually – can help replace the social time you'd have in an office.
- Create a camera-on policy - While voice calls are good for discussions, video calls are even better. Being on camera and seeing your co-workers helps to keep you more engaged and to have more meaningful discussions.
Distractions from family and roommates
Although it can be nice to spend more time with the people you live with during your workday, they can also provide a major source of distraction.
How to deal with it: Many of the methods for setting boundaries for yourself apply to setting boundaries for your family as well. If you can create a separate space for you to work, it can help your family understand when you are available.
- Set clear boundaries that are easy for children to understand - When children are old enough to not need constant attention, but still too young to intuitively understand the importance of undistracted work time, provide them with very clear guidelines on when you need them to leave you alone. For example, when the door is closed, that means it's work time for mom or dad, but they can ask to play when it's open.
- Try to align your pets' schedule with your own - Unfortunately, your dog will never quite understand the concept of work time as well as your partner or children would. But making an active effort to align their care with your own schedule is a good place to start. For example, try taking your dog out during your coffee breaks so that they're not whining to be let out during a meeting.
When it comes to the question of whether remote work is better than traditional office work, there is no one right answer. And what works best for one person may not work well for another. That said, if you are fortunate enough to be able to choose remote work for yourself or your organization, be sure to consider all the pros and cons – as well as what strategies may work best for you when addressing the cons – before you make a decision. For more tips on remote work, check out 6 Ways to Support Your Contact Center Employees Working From Home.