Working from home: benefits and drawbacks
Many people are working home in recent weeks, due to the current Coronavirus (Covid-19) crisis. At yieldHUB, a good number of us have worked remotely or from a home office for years. We have people working like this in Taiwan, the USA, the UK and Ireland. As well as that our software system enables Semiconductor engineers and their managers to work remotely or from home. There are many benefits. Here we’ll share the benefits and drawbacks as well as our top tips to get the most out of it.
This is by far my favourite part of working from home! Studies have shown that commuting is one of the most stressful things a person can do. The longer the commute the more stressful it is. You have to get up early, avoid traffic and hope you make it to work on time. It’s a complete waste of time. When you work from home, your workplace couldn’t be nearer.
Tip: Even though you work from home, you’re better off to shower and dress for work as you normally would. It puts you in a work frame of mind. Plus if you have to have an impromptu video call, you’ll be ready to go at a moment’s notice.
When you work from home, you no longer have to avoid the arty structure in the middle of the reception area, that someone thought looked cool but nearly trips you every time. You won’t have to stare at garish paintings or avoid prickly cacti. You decide the environment, as it is in your home. If you want an ergonomic chair, get one. If a water feature helps you crunch numbers, go for it! You can even heat fish in the microwave without looks of disdain from co-workers.
Tip: It might be tempting to work from the most comfortable place in your house. But, if you’re planning to work from home long-term, invest in furniture that encourages you to work. A nice chair and desk, and good lighting make your space easier to work in.
This is a big one for many people, especially those who come from larger companies. When you work from home you don’t have to feign interest in Nancy’s daughter’s recital, or listen to Phil brag about his son’s football prowess. Nor will you walk into the canteen, notice people in the corner whispering and wonder what they are talking about. When you work from home you avoid all office politics, cliques and gossip.
This is a big plus at the moment, with Coronavirus. For those of us who work from home, it’s a plus all year round. How many times have you gone to work and to see and hear the walking wounded, coughing and spluttering while drinking Lemsip? You won’t have to worry as much about catching or spreading germs when you work from home
Have you ever wondered how much work you’d get done if you could just get on with it? When you work remotely, you don’t have anyone breathing down your neck. You still have deadlines, but you have a better chance of meeting them. When you work from home, there tends to be fewer meetings, as you aren’t in the same building. People solve more problems on their own and contact you when they need something, rather than arranging a meeting for every small detail.
You get to manage your own schedule. This includes what you do day-to-day. Additionally, you can work the things you want to do around your work schedule. If you’re an early bird you might want to start earlier and finish earlier. If you have a dentist appointment, you could schedule it and simply make up the lost hour in the evening.
Tip: When working from home, you should arrange priorities with your manager. This ensures that you stay on track with the company’s objectives. And that there are no surprises at the end of the week, month or quarter.
Avoid being drawn into other people’s projects
As you aren’t in an open-plan office, it’s harder for other people to rope you into their projects. This means you spend more time on your work and waste less time on others.
Save company money
Working from home saves the company money. If you’re pitching to your boss to let you work from home, you could use the following to help you frame your case:
Save money on office space
Save money on office supplies
Reduced turnover: People who work from home tend to stay longer in a company, are more loyal and tend to be more productive.
Environmental impact: If more employees worked from home, it would lower the carbon footprint. This helps the company to meet its corporate and social responsibility goals
Global Work Place analytics have a great page on this: https://globalworkplaceanalytics.com/resources/costs-benefits
I’ve covered the benefits, now it’s time for the drawbacks. We’ll look at these as well as ways to counter them.
This is by far the biggest drawback to working from home. As you’re at home, you don’t get to see people as often as you would if you were working in the office. For many of us this is a perk! In the long-term it could harm your wellbeing. At the moment social distancing is is eveyone’s best interests. But, when it passes there are a number of measures you can take
Visit the office once a week or month (when the current situation passes). If a co-worker lives near you perhaps you could arrange a face-to-face meeting. Arrange online meetings as often as you can.
There are many shared work-spaces around the world. You could rent a desk occasionally, so you’re interacting with new people. (Again, this is when current rules for social distancing pass).
If you need interaction in a hurry, you could go to a nearby coffee shop or library. The WIFI is often very fast and you can enjoy an artisan coffee as you work.
There are lots of social networking groups around the world for freelancers and people who work from home. Attend networking events and conferences in your area to meet like-minded people. These connections could be invaluable in the future
Partner expects you to housework
This is an important yet often overlooked pitfall of working from home. Many people don’t understand the concept, so it takes time for them to fully understand your new working day. Brace yourself while they come to terms with the fact that you are completing a days work and don’t have time for things like, grocery shopping, housework or looking after the children.
When you work from home you aren’t privy to the daily changes and needs of the company. You may miss out on new projects or the chance to prove yourself in new areas.
Though you’re unlikely to ever fully counter this, you can mitigate it by arranging regular online meetings and calls.
When you have limited interactions with your colleagues, you’re likely to have more formal conversations than you would otherwise. This is inevitable. Again organising regular meetings, is a way around this. Use chat functions (Such as Google Hangouts) when you can. These tend to be less formal anyway. Try and find out about your colleagues hobbies and any common ground. Finally, arrange in-person meetings regularly.
We’ve illustrated the benefits and drawbacks of working from home. You gain independence but lose the feeling of teamwork. The next step is to decide whether or not it’s for you. We suggest asking to work from home for a few days to see if you find it useful.