How working from an office might not be for every business

July 8, 2021

Due to the covid-19 pandemic, working from home has opened up new opportunities for other businesses, it’s allowed more people to continue their business operations while prioritising staff and their customer health and wellbeing as part of their public health responsibility. On the other hand, some businesses don’t find working remotely suitable for their business, this blog contains factors of how working from home might not suit every business.

Advantages of employees working from home

With increasing numbers of employees working at home, it’s clear there are a number of benefits for business, such as:

  • Working from home allows more activity and flexibility in working arrangements. With employees no longer bound to an office they might be more willing to work flexible hours such as earlier or later in the day or even at weekends. This may help you meet certain business needs eg if you are trading with customers residing in a different time zone.
  • Homeworking can better engage employees as the versatility of home working can help them meet childcare needs, reduce their commute and allow them to fit their work around their personal life. Being allowed to work from home, staff will also feel increased levels of trust from their employer, which can contribute greatly to staff loyalty.
  • Remote working can be offered as an incentive to come and work for you helping you to attract new talent to your business. Even just giving the option to work from home will give you an advantage in the job market over competitors that don’t offer home working to their staff.
  • Working from home will increase the staff productivity, due to fewer interruptions, which would normally occur in an office environment. Working from home allows for a quieter environment that can help more focused work. You may also find that employees will work longer hours as they can also use their time saved from commuting to start work earlier, later or both.
  • Working from home eliminates the need to travel to work which can be stressful for your employees. Time savings such as this also enables staff to get extra health benefits such as additional sleep, spending more time with family, exercising or preparing healthier meals.
  • There can be many financial benefits when working from home such as savings on office space, office supplies, utility bills and other facilities. Staff may also be able to take advantage of the tax relief available from HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) for working from home.
  • You may have staff that do a lot of visits to customer locations and are therefore not always in the office. Allowing them to base themselves from home may be more convenient and leads to further time and costs savings.
  • The internet has made it easy for staff to be continually connected to the office. Tools such as Skype and zoom have made communication between colleagues and teams much easier and at times can lead to more efficient and effective meetings. Zoom is a platform that can connect with 100 users, there are bots to patrol messaging, that can pair up random colleagues for an online coffee. Zoom also offers an interactive experience for delegates, allowing them to connect with other users, through messaging and online breakout rooms.
  • There will be fewer sickness absences, as staff are more likely to feel happier and more energised working from home and therefore less chance of their immune system is negatively impacted by burnout.

Disadvantages of employees working from home

Though there are some disadvantages to employees working at home, most of these relate to those working from home;

  • Working from home might not be suited to everyone’s personality or ability. Some employees might prefer the routine and structure that working in an office environment provides them. Some staff may prefer personal interaction with colleagues and also find face-to-face guidance with their manager extremely beneficial in helping them complete tasks and achieve their goals. Others may not have the physical space required to create a suitable dedicated working area.
  • Individuals working remotely may feel a disconnect from their colleagues and organisation as a whole that an office environment naturally allows.
  • There could be difficulty managing home workers and monitoring their performance. Different personalities may also respond to monitoring with varying degrees of positivity. You could look at setting goals and objectives with workers that are easily measured so that if their targets aren’t being met you can identify and correct any performance issues at an early stage.
  • Although, home working removes the distractions that may occur in the office if a worker doesn’t have a suitably quiet dedicated working space at home they may get easily distracted by household noises or other members of their household.
  • There can be an initial cost when working from home, as there’s training and providing suitable equipment such as laptops, mobile phones and other IT equipment.
  • You may find that not having staff in close physical proximity leads to difficulty in managing staff development and upgrading skills. However, you could support staff to take the opportunity to learn new skills through online events and courses.
  • Information security problems could be more likely to occur when staff are working from home. There is an increased risk with laptops being taken home and the need for staff to access servers remotely. Employers should ensure they put measures in place to protect company data by installing encryption software and remote-wipe apps if mobile devices provided by you go missing.
  • You should be mindful that depending on where your staff live they may not be able to access broadband speeds that allow them to do their job effectively eg. rural broadband is often very slow.

A shift towards home working doesn’t mean employees have to work only at home. Often splitting time between home and the workplace is the most productive solution and you may want the homeworker to attend meetings to keep them fully involved and informed.

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