Updated: Jan 20
by Richard Lee
Its already been 8 months since our government mandated that workers must work from home where feasible due to Covid-19. This blog compares the pros and cons to working remotely. It had already been on the cards for some time. However many
businesses were adopting a "wait and see" approach to this option. Covid had more or
less accelerated the adoption of work from home.
Pros to Remote working include:
- no travel time required
- frees up working space and other resources ( food, water, electricity ) at work
- can work from practically anywhere with internet access
- immune to catching communicable diseases
- less traffic on roads equals less accidents
- more localised spending by workers which benefit businesses local to resident workers
- save on travel costs
- more immune to future disasters affecting onsite work
- reduce green house gases and save the planet!
Cons to Remote working:
- not everyone is self motivated
- not everyone is a self starter
- junior staff with limited experience could be at a disadvantage
- more potential for security breaches
- harder to monitor worker productivity
- no human face to face contact can be detrimental to creativity
- worker may need to upgrade equipment and/or software configuration to run
- could reduce job security since work can be done remotely from virtually anywhere
- does not suit all types of jobs
- businesses that are dependent on workers may experience significant drop in ongoing
business ( examples are cafes, gymns, bars, restaurants, cinemas, travel agents,
retail shops )
- potential to create more tension with family members who are at home
- easier to be distracted at home than at work
No Travel Time Required
That could potentially lead to improved productivity. I say potential because there may be other offsets (such as distractions and not being self motivated ) that can nullify this advantage. Although the saved travel costs would be certain.
Free up working space and other resources
Less workers at office also means less need to lease/own a larger office. This can reduce costs of running the business and improve overall competitiveness.
Work from practically anywhere with Internet Access
This ones a definite advantage of working online. It gives one more freedom to work
where one chooses ( providing no lock down mandate in force )
More Immune to future Disasters affecting Onsite Work
Since workers are already working from home, any future disruption to work would no longer have the same impact as Covid 19 did.
Not Everyone's Self Motivated / Self Starter
This would make working at home online less rewarding and possibly even frustrating and outright unsuitable for some.
Junior Staff with Limited Experience Disadvantaged
Some work is very practical in nature and without the in person interaction makes it quite difficult, even impractical for learning. You only have to look at the school kids who have fallen behind as a result of learning from home this year!
Potential for Security Breaches
Since the majority of workers are now remotely working, there is greater chance for Malware or other infiltration ( think Phishing and Scam calling ) to happen.
Harder to Monitor Worker Productivity
As you can't see your workers how do you monitor whether they're actually doing the work? Well its possible to install remote monitoring software on workers computers. Since there wasn't really much notice given to employers when the mandate to work from home was given. With remote control software (think TeamViewer, ShowMyPC, Remote Utilities, VNC and others ) its possible to connect and install software on remote workers' computers.
Less to no Human Face to Face Can Jeopardise True Creativity
Its fact that for many people, without real face to face interaction, creativity is effectively
stunted at best. This would effectively cut productivity for some sectors. Think artists, dancers, musicians, actors, composers, and photographers. Many of these workers need real world interaction to do their work effectively. Others who require less interaction may not be as impacted. For example architects who are also creative but may not need the same face to face interaction to get the job done.
Worker may need to Upgrade Hardware and/or Software Configuration
As a result to working from home, workers may need upgrades to existing computers to run corporate software. This would apply more to specialist business software. Although many software is cloud based these days, some still rely on terminal type interaction with Mini and Mainframe computers. The software would require installation and configuration to work properly on workers computers. Example is in education sector, utilities, insurance, and governments. Others need to be updated to newer versions or even a license purchased outright. This was the essential reason we saw a boom in sales to several retailers during the Covid lock downs.
Job Security at Risk due to Nature of working Remotely
Issue is that if your job can be done remotely, then potentially it could also be outsourced to many more candidates than just local residents. That is potentially one of the drawbacks to working remotely. There could be serious ramifications for job security.
Potential to Create More Tension at Home
There's been a notable increase in physical abuse and family violence happening during
the lock down as a direct result of people being urged to stay at home. This has a detri- mental impact on worker well being and productivity.
Its being said that now that many workers experienced what its like to work remotely,
many prefer the flexibility of this work model.
We've talked about the pros and cons to working at home. For many working at home could be a natural extension to their professional lives. They relish the advantages of this working model. The onset of Covid-19 has awakened many to the benefits of online working. There simply will be no going back to the pre-Covid onsite work any more.
For some employers it may make more sense to divide work at home with some work onsite. This would give flexibility to workers whilst still maintaining some real world interaction and supervision of staff.
Yet for others it would either be impractical or else the drawbacks outweigh the advantages. Hence even as the Covid restrictions ease in our city, we'll see some workers soon start to return back to some degree of normality.
Whether its better or not really depends on your individual circumstances. One things
for sure, however: Work from Home is here to stay. Many more employers will adopt and keep it even as Covid-19 eventually subsides.