Many companies had work from home policies in place long before COVID-19. The difference was that it wasn’t everyday. Typically, companies that have a lax working from home policy, or roles that don’t require much cross department interaction, were fine with you working from home as often as you wanted. While others couldn’t let go of the need for in-person collaboration, or the fear of less results from lack of supervision.
Four months into quarantine, with the lucky few of us still employed, it’s safe to say that we can work from home. While some days it’s not ideal — heightened distractions, no work-life balance, and no social interactions with coworkers — employees have proved working from home is possible, every single day. As the world starts to resume life post-pandemic, offices are opening up and redefining what their new policies will be. In some cases, they must factor in new physical workplaces to remain 6-feet apart, alternate employee/department schedules, establish new ways to serve food from on-campus cafeterias, and new budgets for at-home ergonomics offices, among many more.
Some people really enjoy working from home. Some enjoy it but would like the occasional option of going back into the office, or you know — a coffee shop when those are open again. And some are so sick of their homes that they would go back to the office in a heartbeat.
We wanted to look at all the pros and cons of working from home and see how other companies are handling office structure to get a glimpse of the new corporate world.
Pros of Working From Home for the Employee
Your commute is the length of your hallway
There’s a reason why recruiters and hiring managers ask where you are located. Research shows there is a higher chance of turnover the more distance that is put between an employee’s home and office location. Some employees live in different cities or states to save money and avoid commotion from the larger cities where their offices thrive. When your commute is the same place you live, you get to sleep in longer and save both time and money on transportation. This makes for a happier, more energetic employee.
Regardless of how remote you are, technology makes collaboration effortless
For those of us kicking ourselves for not buying stock in Zoom, it’s not too late. Zoom and other video conferencing apps are only growing in numbers. Prior to COVID-19, I had never heard of Zoom and now it’s one of my most used apps. I’m continuously impressed by technology. We have the ability to chat to coworkers abroad at the click of a button. Zoom allows you to split up into different screens, mimicking conference rooms. Zoom allows you to raise a hand or give a thumbs up. You can also mute entire audiences for a concept or idea to get across. If we didn’t have these incredibly talented technologies, working from home when your role depends on teams, would be impossible.
Your time, your schedule
“Look busy” is such a vibe at corporate offices. But not many people are busy the entire workday. But in an office, looking busy is an expectation. Managers can’t afford to “look bad” in front of senior managers, so there’s a certain pressure to find something to do when there is nothing to do. When you work on your own time, there is a lot less micromanaging and a lot more room to manage when you’re most productive. You can schedule around those hard-to-get doctors appointments, self-care, family time, errands and fitness – which is a great receipt for a stress free and productive day.
Give credit, where credit’s due
How often does your boss or another colleague take credit of your work? My guess, too often. When you work alone you have a sense of independence and it gives your boss or senior leaders a chance to see your contributions. For many, this is an incentive to work harder – to finally get the praise they deserve.
For creative roles or campaign planning, it often takes days — occasionally weeks — to have a final project ready. In office settings, there are so many distractions: phones ringing, taps on the shoulders, team lunches, team offsites, email chains and many more. Working from home puts the control back in our hands. We can lock ourselves in our rooms if we live with roommates, and “go silent” to coworkers when we need to focus.
Bye, bye office politics
I’ve heard it said so many times, “I stayed for the people.” So many employees who feel stuck at jobs, whether it’s lack of promotion or tenure, often stay for the friends that they’ve made. The opposite is also true. Working remotely, you escape all the drama that goes on in your department, team, friend group and organization. Less drama, creates more time for creativity and productivity.
Pros of WFH for the Employer
With less micromanagement and lack of commute, employees will be much happier and productive — and unwilling to give that up. For organizations, working from home could create loyal employees.
Lower organizational costs
Studies show companies spend over $15,000 on each employee, annually. Remote setups cost less than $3,000, a total savings of over $12,000 per employee, per year. Going remote has a huge financial benefit, if only employers could see it that way.
More people to choose from
Remote teams can hire the best person they can afford, regardless of location. It creates a large talent pool and a better chance of the organization crushing all goals.
Cons of Working From Home
Your success in working from home might depend on the type of work you do
It’s funny because the biggest argument employers and managers have working from home is lack of collaboration and communication. But if you walk into any office, people barely look up from phones and type all day with headphones in their ears. But I get it. Some roles really require team members. And if you are working all day and waiting for someone to approve your section, or for someone to send the next
assignment, or for someone to help you code something, it can make working from home stressful. Sometimes being surrounded by people of different backgrounds and experience, and bouncing back ideas creates innovation.
What work and life balance?
Raise your hand if your work week has become more intense since working from home. **two hands up** Whether you find yourself still working at 10 p.m. or your boss added on another project to your workload, working from home has redefined burnout. Bosses reaping the benefits all around the nation, confused why you can’t work on the weekends or stay up later, when you’re already at the office. If you are suffering from “tech neck,” here are some tips to help alleviate the pain.
Ok, so no more happy hours?
How many times have you become best friends with people you work with? You spend 8-12 hours with these people everyday, it only makes sense. So when you lose the ability to see these friends everyday, it could put a damper on your social life, especially if you all live in far away cities. It’s easy to grab happy hour, post work when you’re already in the same place (office). It takes much more effort to plan social gatherings when one of you works in the city and another, an hour out.
Working from home is possible, and many companies are both doing it and planning to do it. At Box, Twitter, and Facebook, managers are awarding large stipends to improve home office setups to ensure comfort and productivity for their employees. Other companies like GitHub are issuing stipends to join co-working spaces once they open in case employees ever need a change of scenery.
Managers are afraid of the abuse of remote employees because they have no oversight. They can’t see what the employee is doing, or not doing. They struggle to give up the control. But if the work is being done, and on-time, isn’t that all that should matter?
If managers would just establish goals, metrics, and communication standards – it would be very easy to tell how productive an employee is, regardless of where the person is physically sitting. It should be about desired results and outputs, not location.