As the old adage goes ‘there’s no place like home’ and here in West Yorkshire, there’s never a truer saying as we proudly embrace our nickname of ‘God’s own county’ (or ‘country’ depending upon who you ask).
The folk of our fair county also understand ‘home is where the heart is’, but is it where our work should be?
We know we have the technology that’ll allow us to work from the comfort of our bedrooms, kitchens or sofa’s but is it conducive to productivity and success?
1.7 million people in the UK work from home, and COVID-19 has meant that working from home has been normalised for many. Of course, there are benefits, like being able to work in your pyjamas, get odd jobs around the house done and watch the latest Netflix series, but this isn’t a model that suits every employee or for that case, employer.
If you’re considering transitioning your business to remote working, you should first consider the many pitfalls that will confront your team and business before taking the plunge.
In this blog post we’ve outlined 10 of the top issues of working from home to help you make an informed and balanced decision.
To start with let’s see how working from home can be difficult without a clear structure in place…
In an office environment, there's already a clear structure in place for each working day, from set office hours to break and lunchtimes. However, when working from home, these set hours may not exist. When an employee is working without structure, it can cause a huge toll on their mental & physical health and productivity. Workers may find themselves either sleeping in, procrastinating or even overworking.
After hours of continuous work, employees suffer from physical and mental fatigue therefore should take breaks away from their computer screens. Due to not having a structured day, remote workers may forget to take regular breaks. Three in ten remote employees are reported to not take a lunch break and 29% don’t take a break at all when working from home.
DeskTime found that the most productive 10% of their users did 52 minutes of work, followed by a 17-minute break, showing the key to working efficiently and higher performance levels is taking breaks.
When working from home, it can be very difficult to see where your work ends and leisure time begins; blurring the lines between work and home. Over 40% of employees work over their assigned hours when working from home, with most claiming that the reason for this is: they struggle to switch off from work and that they always feel the need to get one last thing done. In many cases this can lead to burn out.
Working from an office establishes a strong structure to the day and a clear ‘place of work’ where your employees can physically leave their work and then go home to rest, relax and spend time with their family. Your employees should spend time away from work and have a set finishing time to make a division between work and home, to prevent burnout, anxiety and stress.
It’s easy for your employees to become demotivated when they’re not surrounded by the career-driven energy of their ambitious colleagues each day. Some remote workers may lose sight of long-term career goals due to the lack of interaction; they can’t chat face-to-face about new promotions available and therefore might lose sight of all the reminders they could do more challenging and rewarding work.
It can also be hard to create enthusiasm about building and growing your business amongst remote employees. Inspiring passion and enthusiasm across a remote team is difficult without ample social engagement. Your employees also have to be 100% motivated and this is sometimes hard to measure digitally.
When working from home you miss out on conversing, engaging and networking with other business owners and employees on a day-to-day basis (a daily occurrence in our CLUB26 lounge), office corridor or at in-house networking events.
Networking remains a crucial way for you as business owners and your employees, to stay relevant. It’s important to stay involved in your professional community and stay relevant, so no one forgets what your business does. Participating in industry-specific groups and keeping up engaging and maintaining relationships, is always a great way to grow your business through meaningful connections.
When you work in an office daily chats with co-workers, work-related discussions and team brainstorming sessions become an ordinary part of day-to-day life. Working from home, however, is extremely different and many employees can feel quite isolated once removed from a social environment. Totaljobs found that 46% of UK workers experienced feelings of loneliness and isolation when working at home throughout the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown.
Connecting with colleagues is considered crucial in the workplace, social interactions throughout the day can help to refresh the mind and create breaks away from work. Whether this is grabbing a brew, hot-desking, or having a quick chat in the corridors, research has shown that interacting increases your productivity levels.
When working from home, employees have to put in much more effort to interact, as there's a lack of interaction with the wider world. As well as this, many people find it hard to work unsupervised and find work a lot harder to carry out without being in the same office as staff.
Although many employees who work from home keep in touch with other co-workers through digital platforms, email and video chat, this form of communication is not always ideal.
88% of remote workers struggle with miscommunication, and due to the reduction of supervision and direction, it can be hard for some employees to stay on the same page. Many remote workers also worry about how their written tone may come across to other employees.
It's possible for your employees to feel like they’re out of the loop when working from home, and this can cause low motivation and disengagement. It can take longer for employees to be responsive when remotely working, unfortunately, it’s not as easy as walking over to another desk and getting a direct answer.
Generally, it's much harder to stay focused and motivated when working from home. The distractions of home life (family, pets, a noisy environment or other household duties) can become harder to ignore when you’re surrounded with them throughout your working day. A survey revealed that 65% of respondents were exhausted with having to juggle the demands of both work and family life whilst working from home.
Reports have found that it takes an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds to get back on task following an interruption. Home-life distractions are limited in an office; the presence of other focused individuals who are working towards the same goals and clarity of a task helps motivate your employees.
One of the biggest challenges that remote workers face is being able to find a stable and fast internet connection. Many public WiFi hotspots can be hit and miss, and even with a great internet connection at home, video conferencing apps are not always the most reliable, so virtual meetings can be frustrating.
Many business centres in West Yorkshire offer superfast, secure and unlimited WiFi for hot-desking and office members, this means that you can just focus on growing your business rather than being distracted by internet glitches.
Likewise, in an office, you’re surrounded by people who can help when technology fails and there’s always something else you can do – admin work, a meeting or discussing ideas, so your time at work isn’t wasted.
Many people who work from home struggle to find a healthy work-life balance. The modern digital era has created difficulty in separating work from our personal lives; many employees carry on working after hours and find it difficult to set work-life boundaries.
Studies have shown that employees who have a positive work-life balance perform better at work, and it is essential for you as employers to pin importance on this. Working in an office can help you to create a healthy work-life balance due to the structure of the working day, socialising and the fact that you’re away from home life distractions.
When working from home you’re a lot more likely to develop bad posture. A study by Bupa found that 11 million people have suffered aches and pains due to working from home during the lockdown.
This is down to makeshift workstations; hunching over a laptop either on a sofa, bed or kitchen table when working from home, doesn’t offer a high level of support. In the office employees can work at proper office chairs and desks fixed at the correct height.
Crippling neck, shoulder, arm and lower back pain are common side effects from sitting in such an unsuitable position, and this also causes an increase in ‘laptop syndrome’. Spending too much time at your desk can also cause eyestrain, headaches and blurred vision and it is advised to have short breaks throughout the day to rest your eyes and stretch your body.
Despite this advice, 29% of remote workers will not take a break in their working day at all. In the office environment, workers are forced to take breaks as they’re structured into the working day. Studies have found that this is important if you want your employees to stay focused, motivated and perform at their best.
Working from home can work well for some people, however, it’s not the best fit for everyone. You should consider the positives and negatives before making a decision. Without being in an office you could miss social aspects, networking, team culture, great facilities available to help to make your business grow.