In the last few years, especially in the IT industry, the so-called “remote work”, i.e. work from a distance is becoming increasingly widespread. We have already written about the origin of this working model, as well as other working models and current events on the market, in one of the previous blogs, which you can read here. In this blog, we will focus exclusively on working from home, namely, what is implied by it, how it performed in practice, as well as trends in working from home, pros and cons, and the effects it has on the employees and the company.
A survey conducted by Global Workplace Analytics in April 2020 shows that 68% of people globally are successful in working from home. Based on the results of many similar surveys ,mostly indicating positive results when it comes to working from home, many companies have realized that for some positions it is not (always) necessary to work from the office. Gradually, this model was applied by an increasing number of employers and companies as a very adequate alternative to traditional work, as the practice showed that working assignments can be performed in this way with equal quality.
Bearing in mind that there are different types of people and that a different work model is more suitable for everyone, in the table below we present some of the advantages of the working from home model:
|Work from home||Office work|
|No time wasted in traveling to and from the office, on a daily basis.||Every day, it takes an average of 20 minutes to 1.5 hours to get to work and the same amount of time to go back.|
|No stress caused by commuting.||Traffic jams, delays in public transport, constructions forcing you to change routes, no available parking spaces.|
|A healthier diet. When working from home, you have the opportunity to eat home cooked meals||The food you eat at the office tends to be less healthy food and of lower quality compared to the food you prepare at home (junk food, food full of sugar, fats, etc.)|
|An established biorhythm is very important for a person’s psycho-physical health. It is much easier to establish and maintain routines when you are at home rather than anywhere else. This refers to the intake of drinks, food and other activities at the same time each day.||When you’re in the office, you share the space with other people and have more opportunities to be distracted from your regular routines comparing to when you’re at home. The office space in itself is not ideal for any routines and they are more difficult to carry out under such circumstances.|
|Longer and improved sleep quality. If you are not a morning person, you can sleep a bit longer.
If you like to do activities in the morning that include running, walking, housework, etc., you will definitely make better use of the time you would otherwise spend commuting.
|When you have to commute, you need to wake up a few hours earlier to get everything done and make it to the office in time. A constant lack of sleep leads to chronic fatigue and it takes years for a person to recover.|
|More time for family, friends and social activities. When you work from home, as soon as the working hours are over, you are immediately free for all the afterwork activities. You can have lunch with your family, pick up your children from kindergarten/school earlier and have more time to spend together.||People who work from the office come home later, significantly tired and often nervous. They have less energy, time and will for any other social activities. There is also an oversaturation with human interactions, considering the number of people at work, in traffic, transportation, etc., and many choose not to use their free time for social activities, but solely for resting.|
|Keeping up appearances is a matter of choice, not necessity. It is not necessary to wear a different shirt, pants and uncomfortable shoes every day. You don’t have to wear a tie all day. You are not forced to look smart throughout your working hours. A slightly more casual look is also acceptable.||You are obliged to respect the company’s dress-code without exception.|
Looking at the advantages of working from home, it can be observed that this model brings a healthier work/life balance. It allows better care of physical and mental state of the individuals and their families, as well as the richer social life.
While working from home, the employees are given a greater range of possibilities to use their time outside of work, due to the increase of free time otherwise lost in commuting. They will be more willing to leave home in theri free time for all the other activities. Otherwise, the employee usually can’t wait to get home and doesn’t often have the will to spend the evenings in a different way then resting. They will also have less negative impact on their mood that a typical day at the office brings.
On the other hand, regardless of the benefits of working from home, some people simply do not like this type of working model for many reasons. Different working models suit differently to different characters.
Therefore, we must also take into consideration the point of view that presents the advantages of working from the office compared to working from home:
|Office work||Work from home|
|More social activities: communication with colleagues, direct contact with people, the possibility of socializing during breaks or after working hours, etc. Developing social skills, creating new friendships, maintaining existing relationships.||You don’t see anyone during working hours, except the people you live with. You have no contact with other people, unless you choose to in your free time. The relationship with colleagues can deteriorate or never even manage to form.|
|Focus exclusively on daily tasks. Everything that is necessary is done in a high-quality manner.||There are many ways to shift your focus from tasks at home, such as , your family members with their various daily activities, household chores, unannounced guests,, etc.|
|Being at the centre of action people working at the office are more eager to accept changes, have no trouble in interacting with people, greater incentive for innovation, the possibility of growing new ideas, etc.||After a longer period of working from home, you tend to feel isolated from the reast, which can lead to a decrease in social skills, so even the slightest change represents a greater burden for the individual. Everything is more difficult to accept compared to the same thing in regular circumstances.|
|The equipment and working space are prepared in advance, they are not your responsibility or obligation – but rather the employer’s. You have your own peace and quiet for the unhindered performance of all tasks and meetings, you have a quality internet connection, any possible technical problem is solved directly on the spot.||It is up to you to provide yourself with a space in which you can work without any distractions. This is often a difficult task for anyone who does not live alone. Also, all equipment and maintenance is your responsibility. Any technical problem requires more time to solve, considering not being present at the location.|
|Regular daily activities imply at least a minimum level of physical activity. Even if you do not have any other physical activities in your free time, you are active while travelling to/from work, or walking around the company premises, during breaks, etc. Any kind of physical activity is the basis for good health, mood and energy.||You don’t have any physical activity, because your workspace is located just a few meters from the bedroom, kitchen, bathroom, etc. Everything you need to function is just a few steps away. Also, you don’t have colleagues in other rooms that you can walk up to and ask some question or just have a small talk. You don’t change rooms or go outside when you have a break, but everything is done within the same loop.|
Analysing the second point of view, we have a better understanding and the wider perspective of the concept of working from home. We now realize that not everything is as ideal as it is often presented. However, judging by many statistical surveys, which have been published over the last few years, the general impression is that the vast majority of people prefer remote work, regardless of possible negative features. Based on that, we can say that different types of people are suited to such working models that are in accordance with their character traits, lifestyle and habits.
If every person had the right to choose the working model for themselves, all the negative qualities could be ignored, bearing in mind that they go in “package deal” with all the positive qualities. However, most companies are not in a position to allow their employees to choose their preferred working model. In fact, companies determine this based on the job description and requirements, along with an assessment of resources and other segments. It often happens that employees are not (completely) satisfied with their working model. The level of dissatisfaction with the working model has recently been one of the most important reasons for many people to change their jobs. Employees very often single out the moment of changing the work model as the only factor that influenced the decision to change the company.
Based on that, we present a table from the employer’s perspective regarding the benefits of working from home and traditional office work:
|Work from home||Office work|
|The possibility of reducing costs that are closely related to the office. Office spaces can be significantly reduced. Reducing capacity automatically means reducing each individual cost proportionally.||If all employees are in the office, a large enough space should be provided for each individual to be equally comfortable. All equipment and tools for work purposes should be provided and someone who can adequately maintain them should also be hired.|
|There are no costs for office supplies.||It is necessary to provide employees with basic supplies, such as stationary, food and beverage, etc. in the company’s premises.|
|Reduced ability to control employees.||Employees can be controlled more often: if they complete all their tasks on time and in an adequate manner, if they sufficiently focused, etc.|
|Inability to automatically react to any kind of technical disturbances and problems.||Almost every company has maintenance employees or contracts with companies that provide technical support in a very short notice, so that any disturbance in the company space is eliminated more easily and quickly.|
|Signing the documentation is more complicated. A courier service must be involved in order to send and return the documents. It represents a double cost for the company.||The signing of the documentation is done on the spot and does not involve any costs.|
|Creating, establishing, and maintaining corporate culture and friendly relations in the team is made difficult. It can be done online, but it’s on a completely different level than face-to-face interactions.||Direct contact is considered much more favourable for creating quality interpersonal relationships, collegiality and making friendships. It is very important for an employer to have a team that is based on similar values, and therefore effectively and efficiently delivers all tasks in an adequate manner.|
Based on the points above, we can notice it is not easy for companies to choose the ideal working model for their employees either. Therefore, every company should examine its own needs and be realistic about its capabilities, needs and ambitions. It is necessary to synchronize each segment of the existing business with the direction in which the company wants to operate. Based on that, the company should try to harmonize the positions and working models according to which they will be maintained.
While selecting candidates for new positions in the company, employers should be transparent with candidates regarding the planned working model for a position in question, bearing in mind that for many this is a deal breaker. If the employer “doesn’t care” according to which model a certain role will perform its duties, the choice in that matter should be given to the employee. This way, both companies and candidates will create the business path that suits them best. The company will not have dissatisfied employees who will not perform their duties adequately and possibly look after another job solution after a short time.
It is also very important that, while evaluating employees, the company initiates the topic of the working model. It is possible for the company’s needs to change over time, but it is also possible for the employees to change their opinion about the working model that suits them better. Regular discussions with employees and general transparency can achieve great results that lead to long-term and mutual satisfaction.