Lots of people have always liked working from home, but the COVID-19 pandemic has massively accelerated the trend towards hybrid and home working – studies have shown that 77% of people who work from home several times every month report a productivity increase.
There are plenty of reasons why people enjoy working from home, too. Beyond productivity benefits, if you’re a home or hybrid worker, you’ll usually enjoy more flexibility, fewer expenses, a better work-life balance and increased job satisfaction.
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It’s not all good news, however, and in the past couple of years the positive press about home and hybrid working has obscured some of the notable negatives.
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Freelancers often find that loneliness is a serious issue when working from home all the time, and the same is increasingly true for remote and hybrid employees. If you’re stuck at home all the time, you’re more likely to feel isolated from your colleagues and the organization, and it’s trickier to maintain the social connection that can be so valuable in terms of team-building and idea generation.
If you’ve got isolated employees, they’ll feel miserable and disconnected and won’t be as productive. It’s a lose-lose situation.
The isolation won’t just hinder employee productivity and hamper their work/life balance, either. If you’ve got staff members who are at home all of the time – or at least some of the time – then it’s difficult for their performance and output to be monitored.
This won’t just have a day-to-day impact on company performance. If performance is hard to monitor, then it’s difficult for staff to develop – because managers can’t get a clear view of their strengths and weaknesses.
Many people will have no issues with working at home and, as statistics have shown, many people will be more productive if they’re permitted to use home working or hybrid arrangements. But that can still be tricky to monitor, and other people simply won’t be as productive because they’re surrounded by more distractions.
It may seem simple to send people to work at home, but a move to home and hybrid work can often lead to increased costs for your business.
If you’ve got staff who are going to work at home for at least some of the time, you’ll often have to purchase equipment for them to use, like laptops, phones, headsets and even desks and chairs. You may have to contribute to adapting their home environments for health and safety adherence, and you might also have to train the staff on new software packages for remote working and collaboration. You might even have to pay for broadband speed upgrades.
If your staff will be working from home and you want them to be happy and productive in a new environment, you’ll have to spend some extra cash.
Home and hybrid working has led to a blurring of the boundaries between work and home life. Now, more than ever, staff members are expected to always be accessible through email clients and communication apps on their phones.
For many people, sadly, an always-on workload is not sustainable, and no wonder – nobody wants to deal with work requests at all hours of the day and notifications taking away from family and leisure time. And that’s not usually the fault of staff members – it’s managers placing unrealistic expectations on their colleagues.
If employees can’t maintain a healthy distance between home life and their workload in a remote or hybrid environment, then they’ll experience higher stress levels and eventually become burnt out. Their mental health will suffer, their work will be poorer, and they’ll need time away from the job to recover.
That’s no good for the staff member and it’s not particularly great for a business, either, and it’s a significant issue with home and hybrid working arrangements.
In the internet age it’s critical for any business to keep tabs on sensitive data – and with work spreading across the home and into hybrid environments, that’s never been so difficult.
Devices being removed from the office and the need for remote access means that companies must take extra measures to protect data, usually through encryption and additional security software. That’ll add cost, it may add processes to staff workflows, and it may take up time because training might be necessary.
It’s always worth it when your company’s confidential data is involved, but it’s certainly a home and hybrid negative.
It’s pretty easy to keep up with what’s happening when your employees are fully remote – you’ll hopefully know what hours they’re working and that’s that.
If they’re hybrid and spending time divided between the office and their homes, it can be trickier to keep on top of who’s working when – and where. And, if that’s an issue, you may often struggle to have enough staff on hand to get the job done through no fault of your own.
Many companies have addressed this issue by investing in scheduling software that allows employees to choose and manage their own schedules. That allows managers to see what’s going on and identify staffing issues, but it’s another added cost and it’ll take time to train people to use these new apps.
You might encounter surprising office issues if you’ve got plenty of hybrid staff, too. You’ll have to ensure that your office spaces are built to accommodate a flexible workforce, which means plenty of available equipment and a hot-desking system that can cope with variable staffing levels.
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Mike has worked as a technology journalist for more than a decade and has written for most of the UK’s big technology titles alongside numerous global outlets. He loves PCs, laptops and any new hardware, and covers everything from the latest business trends to high-end gaming gear.