When 2020 kicked-off six months ago, almost nobody could have predicted the tremendous changes that would happen in our lives over the next half a year. The Covid-19 pandemic hit the world harder than anyone could have expected and fundamentally altered both our social customs and work habits. Behavior such as shaking hands, which was encouraged just a couple of months ago, has now become prohibited. Meanwhile, people have no other choice than to accept the rules and adjust to this new situation, which has not only significantly impacted their careers, but also their private life. Social distancing became the new norm, and suddenly millions of people were forced to move their work from the office to their own studies, kitchens or living rooms.
As entrancing as working from home may seem, it is certainly not for everyone. Recently heavy debates have been provoked surrounding whether this new trend has more of a beneficial or destructive impact on society. In an attempt to clarify this enigmatic topic, we decided to collect the most commonly listed benefits and drawbacks of working from home and how you get to grips with them.
Some of the advantages of being able to work from your own apartment are trivial. There might be others that you have not yet considered. Let’s see how working from home can increase your sense of fulfilment, aside from being able to stay in your comfiest pajamas all day and avoid the stress of the morning commute.
Greater Autonomy – Time to Improve Your Time Management Skills!
Being free from the eyes of your supervisor or your colleagues feels quite liberating. You can organize your day and your tasks however it suits you and create a less stressful routine that might increase your productivity as well. In addition, not having to follow regular office hours means you can set your own schedule to fit better to your private life. People have more time to run small errands and to take care of their family. In those quick breaks, instead of having to make small talk with your colleagues, you can take care of the laundry, receive online grocery deliveries or just mentally recharge. You can also choose when you start. People who like to get things out of the way can start working early, while night owls can adjust the hours to their nocturnal rhythm.
No Commute – Less Stress, More Money!
One of the clearest advantages of not leaving your home for work is the lack of daily commute. According to a survey conducted by the Payroll & HR services provider SD Worx in 2018, European workers spent about one and a half hours, on average, commuting each day. Working from home means you can say goodbye to that stressful rush-hour traffic. Instead of spending your mornings on a depressing crowded bus or subway, now you are free to spend that time preparing for the day ahead with a nice cup of coffee or tea or simply enjoying some pleasant time with your loved ones.
Saving Money – Start Thinking About How You Can Manage It Better!
By skipping your daily commute, you don’t have to spend money on public transportation or gas anymore. Besides that, instead of getting your coffee at pricey coffee shops every morning, you can just start the day off in your own kitchen from now on. The temptation to order food in your lunch break is also less compelling, since you have the time to do the groceries and prepare your own food now. Lastly, you might be able to save money on new work clothes as well, since you rarely need them anymore.
Reduced Stress – Healthier Lifestyle!
Another important benefit of working from home is that potential sources of stress are fairly limited. Even though work pressure exists in all kind of jobs, for most people, it is still less intense when your workspace is your home. Many studies have shown that remote workers feel significantly less stressed out, on average, than those working in a shared workspace. Since employees don’t have to deal with office politics, the stress of commuting or their boss standing behind their back anymore, they can enjoy a much more relaxed work environment. They also have a higher tendency to focus on eating healthily and working out more, which also contributes to a less stressful life.
Comfort – Goodbye Business Pants, Hello Track Pants!
As the obligation to be present in the office is gone, couches and kitchen tables take on the role of workstations, and at the same time, millions of workers are changing their work wear and uniforms to much more comfortable t-shirts and track pants. The advantage of not having to ask the question “What should I wear today?” lies not only in saving a lot of time each day, but also spares us some stressful moments in the morning and increases our contentment throughout the day.
As the Covid-19 pandemic started spreading globally, the world had to adjust. It quickly learned that remote work does not have to be a luxury, in fact, it can serve as an alluring alternative to the traditional job model.
Many people have become used to the perks of not having a strict schedule and, unsurprisingly, a significant number of us would be keen to keep this newfound status quo even after the pandemic blows over. Nevertheless, we cannot forget about the other side of the coin. In order to gain a deeper insight on the benefits and drawbacks of working from home, we also listed the 5 most important challenges that one might have to take into consideration when bringing work home.
No Physical Separation Between Work and Leisure Time
The line that separates work and leisure time becomes vague, as the physical distinction between the office and your apartment is gone. The absence of commuting time and change of location has made it hard for many people to separate their private life from their business life. However, if you want to avoid becoming burnt out too early, it is very important to create boundaries between work and life and try to maintain some kind of balance.
Isolation While Working from Home
Not having to deal with office politics or co-workers procrastinating from their work by walking around and initiating chit-chat is one of the main benefits of remote working. Without these distractions, many have claimed to be more productive and perform at a higher level. On the other hand, isolating ourselves at home tends to amplify our social needs. Loneliness and boredom have proven to be severe issues, especially for workers who live alone. A research conducted by Nicholas Bloom in 2014 and a Harvard Business Review article on the experiment from 2015 show us the same results. Around 50% of home workers decided to return to the office when it was possible because they were feeling lonely. It is therefore important to keep in mind that without colleagues and social interaction, it is easy to feel isolated. Unsatisfied social needs can be detrimental to our mental health in the long run.
Communication Is More Challenging
Although the technological development of recent decades made the transition to working from home smoother, business relationships are harder to form without personal attendance. The distribution of employees across various locations raises several issues that not all companies are yet prepared for. For instance, since work schedules are not as aligned as they used to be, availability might become a bit of a problem. Likewise, for more introverted individuals, it can be even harder to communicate sufficiently with their co-workers just through a screen. Team spirit is also difficult to keep up when you don’t get to see your team mates anymore and some people might even have a hard time with internet connection or no access to proper office equipment.
Lack of Motivation and Procrastination
Not having the boss standing behind our back constantly monitoring our performance takes a lot of pressure off our shoulders. However, less stress and supervision coming from our superiors can also reduce motivation and lessen staff morale. It requires strong discipline and a lot of dedication to live up to our potential every day. Even more so when no one is really there to check up on us or tells us what to do. Whether someone is new to this situation or already an experienced remote worker, it can be difficult for anyone to avoid the occasional temptation to procrastinate. The best thing one can do is to recognize the problem and actively work on it by figuring out what distracts you from doing your job and find the perfect anti-procrastination strategy that works for you.
Even though chatty colleges are not getting in your way anymore, after a couple of weeks, you will realize that there are still several sources of potential distraction that you need to look out for. Starting with the dishes in the sink, the laundry in the corner or your kids wanting your attention. To create an effective work environment and get rid of unnecessary interruptions, it is very important to have a separate space that you can organize according to your needs and where you can seclude yourself. Creating an “office area” in your home will help you to stay focused and operate in business-like manner. This will also prevent you from procrastinating.
Overall, altering our daily working routine is a massive change for most of us. Even if the benefits of working from home seem to outweigh the drawbacks, adapting to it won’t happen overnight. Just take your time, be patient and try to stay positive! If you need more advice on how to keep up your motivation while working from home, you can read our article on healthier remote work.
By Rebeka Selymes