This article gives some of the pros and cons of the workspace when working from home.
Advancements in technology have allowed many employers to offer the option of working from home or working remotely, which has been a benefit for many during the global pandemic. Now that many business locations are opening up and allowing employees to return to work, employers are faced with the decision of continuing to allow remote work or asking that their employees return to work. When making this decision, there are many advantages and disadvantages to consider for both the employees and the employer. This article focuses on the pros and cons of the workspace when working from home.
Having a dedicated space to perform our work tasks, such an office, allows us to focus, minimize distractions, and can spark creativity and innovation. Many of the benefits of a workspace depend on the physical layout and environment of the space. There are many factors that contribute to a desirable workspace, and each individual has their own wants and needs for the space they are working in. Factors such as noise, temperature, visual appeal, distractions, comfortability, or privacy can impact an individual’s work. When working from home or remotely, we need to ensure we have an adequate space to work in which can have pros and cons for both the employees and the employers.
When working from home, it can be an advantage to have the opportunity to create and design your own workspace. This allows you to be in a space with your optimal temperature, control of the noise such as quiet or playing music, a visual design that is appealing to you, the lighting you prefer, a space that keeps you focused, privacy if required or desired, and any comforts that allow you to be productive within your space.
A great benefit for employers from having employees working from home is it can reduce operational expenses. If there is no office location required for all or most employees, it would reduce or eliminate rent expenses as well as utility expenses such as power, water, and gas. There are also other operational expenses that could be eliminated such as cleaning services, requiring an alarm system, as well as internet and phone bills. On the cost side of things, working from a home office greatly reduces gas expenses from the lack of commuting required. The reduction in commute time can also free-up more time in a day that is not spent on the road!
Another advantage would be the capability to work from anywhere, as long as there is internet connection and access to a computer. With advances in technology, most companies offer cloud solutions for sharing documents and accessing programs that are required to complete their work. This allows employees to relocate if a spouse gets a new job, to travel and still be able to work, or to simply change their environment and work from a coffee shop or library if that change of scenery is needed.
On the flip side, employees working from home could create some additional costs for employers if they need to invest in proper equipment to enable employees to complete their work. This equipment could include a computer or laptop which can get expensive depending on the requirements of the equipment, and how many employees will be working from home. Other equipment could include a printer if physical documentation is required, or a filing cabinet if sensitive documents are being kept.
A consideration that could be a disadvantage is access to general supplies. When working from a business location, everything that we need to perform our duties is typically provided by the company. This can sometimes be taken advantage of or is hardly recognized until it is no longer available. This can be simple supplies such as pens or other writing utensils, paper for the printer, a stapler, staples, paperclips, a hole punch, binders, or file folders. There can also be more specialized supplies required for specific jobs and tasks that could be difficult or impossible to replicate at home and may be too costly to consider purchasing or installing in employee’s homes.
Another con of working from home or remotely is there are more distractions. One of the top distractions of working from home are people’s kids or spouses, especially on the days the kids don’t have school, or if their partner also works from home. As there are personal matters in the home, this can make it more difficult to separate work from home and stay focused on the task at hand. This could be as simple as seeing dishes piled in the sink that need to be done, or having pets around that are just too dang cute to ignore! Noise can also be a factor depending on where we live, or where we are choosing to work from.
It’s also very important to note that working from home can have negative consequences for the company’s culture. When people are working in seclusion, this can lead to them working as individuals rather than as a team. The physical distance doesn’t only create a physical separation, it also creates a separation in the culture and how people work together towards the same goals with the same values. We will explain the impacts on culture further in Part 4 of this series.
Wins and Woes of a Remote Workspace
When working from home or remotely, there are many wins that can be experienced, as well as some woes. It allows us to design and create our own workspace, can reduce some of the costs associated with working at a business location, and grants us the opportunity to work from almost anywhere we would like. On the other side, it can create extra costs for equipment, challenges around supplies that are required for our work, and extra distractions that may be difficult to avoid or ignore. When deciding if remote work is an option for your company, consider the wins and woes of the workspace.
In Part 4 in this series, we will explain the pros and cons of culture for the business when working from home.