Positive & Negative Impact of Work from Home on Employees
In the past year or so, thousands of employees around the world have made the switch from being regular employees in the office to working from home and relying on online communication to stay connected with their employer and co-workers. With some, this was a voluntary decision but for others, there really was no choice. In any case, this shift comes with a notable impact of work from home on employees’ interactivity.
There is no question that working from home does have its pros and cons. For instance, a lot of time and money is saved with the elimination of the daily commute. Many workers have also enjoyed greater schedule flexibility. On the other hand, working parents who have young children at home will have to make a major adjustment to keep up productivity amidst a distracting environment. When it comes to the impact of work from home on employees’ interactivity, there is also a combination of the good and the bad.
Positive Impact of Work from Home on Employees
One of the first things that come to mind when you have to start working from home is that in this setup, you will be working by yourself. There will be no more chatting with officemates at the water dispenser. There will be no more supervisors looking over your shoulder checking your work. You might feel a bit lonely on the first day but as you get used to it, you will quickly realize that the effect of work from home is not all bad.
Constant interruptions are a part of the daily routine in a typical workplace. There will be phones to answer, package deliveries to sign for, bosses to appease, and co-workers to listen to when they come over to share the latest gossip. When you work from home, you will not have to deal with any of these and be able to do your work more productively.
Less Office Politics
Office politics can greatly diminish productivity, especially when you get too invested in it or find yourself getting personally involved. The politics will still be there if you work from home but at least you will be physically away from it and thus be less affected by it, if at all.
The constant chatter in the workplace can be very distracting especially if you are working on something that requires full concentration. An effect of work from home is that you can shut yourself off in a quiet room until you get your work done.
More Efficient Meetings
In face to face meetings, casual side conversations can take up a lot of time and cause unnecessary extensions and delays. With online meetings, employees are usually more attentive and are more focused on the agenda.
No Need to Travel
So much time is saved when working from home as there is no longer any need to travel from home to work, and back again at the end of the day. Because of this, employees are less haggard and can spend their time more productively.
Negative Impact of Work from Home
Just as there are a lot of benefits to working by yourself remotely, there is also a considerable negative effect of work from home on employees. In particular, the lack of physical interactivity among co-workers can actually affect the quality of their work, especially on projects that require teamwork and extensive collaboration.
Feeling Out of Touch
Through email, voice messaging or video conferencing, it is now very easy to keep everyone in the loop at all times when it comes to official matters, even if you are on separate continents. For some, this is not a problem but for others, especially older employees that are not very tech-savvy, this arrangement can bring about a feeling of being out of touch or even discomfort that might ultimately affect work performance.
Lack of Casual Interaction
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy, as the saying goes. Studies have actually shown that something similar is very true in the workplace. Employees need to be able to relax and take a break during the work day so that they can recharge their minds and shed away the stress from work. These casual conversations are one of the things that many remote workers miss when they start working from home.
Less Team Effort
People tend to work better in a team if they are physically together in one location. Everything is just easier when you are face to face, from the assignment of tasks and brainstorming for ideas to the constant coordination once the project is underway. Of course, technology makes it easier to do all this remotely but there is still something missing, especially if you are the only remote worker while the rest of your team is working together in the office.
For most people, being physically in an office and in the vicinity of your co-workers plays a significant role in helping them switch to work mode. The environment is completely different from the home and there is a clear sense that you are at work and so you are motivated to act accordingly. A huge effect of work from home is that it will be hard to separate work life from home life, especially with very young children around. Instead of interacting with co-workers during your break, you get to change your baby’s diapers. It’s not hard to see how this kind of setup can drastically reduce work motivation.
The Responsibility of Employers
We all know that there are challenges that come with working from home and all we can do is help each other surmount these challenges. It will be up to the employer to make sure that their remote employees do not suffer much negative impact of work from home. The good news is that there are several innovative ways that this can be done, as many companies have successfully done so already.
Investing in Technology
Technology is one of the most accessible and most effective tools we have to bridge the gap for remote work, and it would make perfect sense for a company to invest in the right kind of technology. In fact, this might be one of the first things that companies should do as it would be essential in maintaining communication and interactivity among remote employees.
Online Team Building
Employers can also hold online team building events or virtual birthday celebrations for work from home employees and similar activities to keep everyone’s motivation and productivity at a high level.
As you can see, the impact of work from home on employees can be both bad and good. But the good thing is that we can find ways to make this challenging situation work for everyone, with just a little practice and some adjustments.