As the COVID19 pandemic continues to linger, there are still a significant percentage of the workforce working from home; however, prior to COVID this was already a growing phenomenon that was transforming the landscape of the Australian workforce. Improvements in technology have been the driving force in propelling this change, with face-to-face connectivity facilitated via live streaming platforms, allowing workers absent from their workplace to join in group discussions, meetings, and client liaison from their home office, dining room table, or even lounge chair!
Working from home has some notable advantages not just for the employee, but also for the employer.
Advantages for the employee:
- No travel time or associated costs
- More flexibility around hours (not in all cases)
- Less stress re: rushing to get ready to get into work
- Less disruptions (not in all cases)
- Tax deductions – including heating/cooling, electricity, stationery, mobile phone, internet etc (seek advice from tax agent to maximise deductions)
- Calmer, familiar environment can stimulate greater creativity and productivity
- Enhanced job satisfaction
- Minimal to no involvement in office politics
- Can live in a location of choice – distance from workplace not so relevant
Advantages for the employer:
- Decreased overheads – the more employees working from home, the less drain on office resources, and decreased office space needed – reducing rent
- Greater employee satisfaction may enhance productivity, loyalty, and creative thinking
- Less dramas from ongoing office politics
- Increased flexibility – this can work well for employer just as much as employee
- More efficient, instant communication (not always possible in office environment)
- Less time off for employees due to school holidays/sick children etc.
Whilst there are clear advantages, and this is a trend that is not going to abate any time soon; working from home is not for everyone and is not suitable across all business models.
Disadvantages for the employee:
- Whilst productivity can increase in a home environment, it does require discipline and it can take a while for some to get into a routine where productivity is maximised…in the short term it may dip before rising
- Feelings of isolation – working as part of a team can be critical to morale and productivity, and many stay-at-home workers miss the comradery/friendships and office banter
- Feelings of guilt – the line between work and home is now blurred, and some say they feel guilty relaxing at home when they know there’s work still outstanding, even though its outside work hours; it can be hard to switch off
- Distractions – whilst for some there are minimal distractions at home, for others there can be many – young children, pets, elderly relatives, unexpected visitors popping in because they know you are home, traffic noise, barking dogs next door etc
Disadvantages for Employers:
- Maintaining trust – this a big leap of faith for many employers who are used to the traditional working day, it can take a while to establish a way of ensuring time is used productively and that quality of work is at expected level
- Loss of team cohesion – whilst office politics can be a negative force, workers working together in a team environment can also be a motivating positive force that benefits all
- Staff Training – this can be more difficult with a fractured workplace where everyone is working from their own office rather than in a group setting
- Feeling of isolation – the employer can also feel a little removed and isolated from the heart of their business, the people.
Overall, for many, the pros outweigh the cons, and most issues on either side can be navigated with good communication and some guidelines in place to ensure everyone is meeting their commitments within expected time frames and is staying motivated and enthusiastic.