The 2020 Coronavirus pandemic has resulted in a massive shift from office life to working from home. Companies have had to adapt to the new working situation and transition to a quarantined lifestyle. While there are benefits to working from home, it also has its disadvantages. Some companies have welcomed this change, and others have opposed it.
Working from home increases productivity by eliminating daily commutes and long delays in traffic. Dr. Kiron Chatterjee found that adding time to an employee’s commute made them equally as unhappy as taking a 19% pay reduction. With less time on the road comes less stress. This also means that employees have more time to sleep in and more time to prepare for work. According to a study conducted by Powell & Craig in 2015, this creates a better work-life balance for mothers. Working from home helps and encourages mothers to build a bond with their children. A study researched by Troup & Rose showed that a company found around 60% of its workers working at the office had children to care for, which caused tiredness and exhaustion in the workplace. When these individuals switched to working from home, it made a massive difference to their stress levels, had better focus during work hours, and were not as exhausted.
For working parents, working from home may negatively affect their productivity because most daycares and schools are closed. Not only do working parents have to worry about getting all their assignments completed, but they also have to take care of their children for the entire day and make sure they are attending classes online. Additionally, working remotely for those with pets and kids can be difficult due to distracting noise levels.
With the rise of working from home jobs and employees, increasing the demand for remote work, more companies should include remote work in their post-pandemic to increase employee satisfaction and happiness. In McCrindle’s research, workers submitted that the idea of having enough flexibility to work on other assignments was a significant advantage of working from home. Having this flexibility increased their satisfaction in working and were able to be more productive. However, as everything should be, there should be a balance between working from home and working at the office.
Working from home can get lonely. For working individuals that live alone, social isolation can affect a person’s well-being drastically. Even though coworkers are only one Slack message away, digital communication does not provide as much social nourishment as in-person communication. In 2015, an experiment by Bloom was conducted to test if working from home works. They wanted to see if workers would return to the office, and over half of the workers returned because of the lack of social interaction they had at home. Similarly, for working families or individuals who live with roommates or housemates, going to a physical workspace can escape some people. Seeing the same person every day during a quarantine lockdown can create problems.
Mental health has also been affected by working from home. It becomes harder to balance work-life and home-life when you are no longer in the office. Research shows that some employees who worked remotely had difficulties distinguishing the boundaries between work and home life, which led to overworking. There is no clear line of separation in the space and environment when an individual works remotely.
At the start of the pandemic, most companies were forced to make the switch to working remotely. Fortunately, technology these days makes it straightforward for employees to work from home. With Slack, Google Suite, Zoom, and many other applications, working remotely has never been more accessible. For companies with older policies, some classes may be necessary to teach their employees how to use these online platforms.
Some companies also choose not to renew their leases on physical office spaces and are moving all their employees to work remotely. This would save companies a lot of money that can be allocated and used for other things.
With all the adjustments we had to adapt to the current situation, comes the big questions. How long will we be working remotely? Will things ever return to normal? Jack Dorsey, CEO of Twitter, recently announced that all Twitter and Square employees would permanently work remotely. This could be the new norm for some workers. With the realization of how many jobs can be performed at home, this trend of working remotely might continue even after the quarantine is lifted and businesses reopen. Analytics has estimated that 25%-30% of working individuals will be working remotely until the end of 2021. The big hope is that we will have a vaccine so workers can return to their offices. The vaccine is currently on hold due to some significant complications with symptoms, so it could be a while before that hope comes true.
Although there are significant advantages of working from home, it is always important to take time for one’s mental health and create a distinct line between work-life and home-life. Working from home is great for both employees and employers who can switch to working remotely. As long as boundaries are met, employees should be able to work efficiently and effectively from home.