Work from home – or not?

By: Jerry Nix | Freewavemaker, LLC

Date Published: Wednesday, September 20, 2023

Working from home has advantages and disadvantages for both employers and employees. The purpose of this article is to delve deeper into both from both perspectives.

Where did it all start?

For many in the workforce today it started with the so-called “Covid Lockdown.” Businesses needed to stay operational and employees needed to continue to earn a living … but with Covid running ramped something had to be done. But what?

For many businesses, it was decided to let those employees who could, work from home.

For me, it started way back in 1976 when I first joined a financial planning firm that did not provide office space for their “independent contractors.” So, I worked some 42 years away from a formal office. Eventually, I did rent a small office so I could invite clients in for consultation … but there were still no employees (other than those I hired and paid) to work with me.

Now that the deadliest part of Covid has passed (some still think it has not) some employers want employees to come back to the office and some do not. On the other hand, some employees would like to return to the office and some would rather continue working from home.

There are advantages and disadvantages to both the employer and employee to continue to work away from the office (at home). So, whether it is good or bad is going to be dependent on the employer and the employee; but more so the employer since the employer does pay the salary. Let’s look at these advantages and disadvantages from both perspectives.

Advantages for the employer …

To continue to allow the employee to work offsite:

  1. Reduced Cost: Employers can save money on office space, utilities, and other overhead costs when employees work from home.
  2. Potentially increased productivity: Studies have shown that remote workers are often more productive than their in-office counterparts. This is likely due to factors such as reduced distractions, flexible schedules, and improved work-life balance.
    1. However, this is not always the case. Some employees often get less work done from home.
    2. Other employees have no real life-work balance as they spend a whole lot more time at work than at living life.
    3. A wise man once told me that if you can’t get it done in 8 hours chances are good that you can’t get it done in 12 or 16 hours. And, if you can get it done in 8 hours chances are great that you can get it done in 6 or 4 hours.
  3. Access to a wider talent pool: Employers can recruit and hire employees from all over the world when they offer remote work options. This can help them to find the best talent for the job, regardless of location.
  4. Improved employee morale: Employees who are happy and satisfied with their work are more likely to be productive and engaged. Working from home can help to improve employee morale by giving employees more flexibility and control over their work lives.

Disadvantages for the employer …

In allowing employees to work from home or other offsite locations:

  1. Communication and collaboration challenges: It can be more difficult to communicate and collaborate with remote workers than with in-office employees. This is especially true for teams that need to work closely on complex projects.
    1. It is kind of hard to show a person how to do something over the phone when personal showing is needed.
  2. Reduced visibility and accountability: It can be more difficult for employers to monitor and assess the performance of remote workers. This can lead to concerns about productivity and accountability.
  3. Security Risks: Remote workers may be more vulnerable to cyberattacks and other security risks. Employers need to take steps to mitigate these risks, such as providing employees with secure equipment and training them on cybersecurity best practices.
    1. As I stated in a recent article I wrote; there are more than 800,000 cyber-attacks each year in America and the numbers are only increasing as the Federal Government can do little to foil these attacks.

Now that we have looked at some of the advantages and disadvantages from the employer’s viewpoint about letting people work from home or offsite, let’s review them from the employee angle.

Advantages for the employee …

Regarding working from home:

  1. Flexibility and convenience: Employees can work from home at the times that are most convenient for them. This can lead to improved work-life balance and reduced stress levels.
    1. However, the employee must have the discipline to make sure they have an adequate life-work balance.
    2. In many cases the employee can become a “workaholic” and if a family is involved this can lead to marital problems and resentment from children. I know … I’ve suffered both.
  2. Reduced commuting time and costs: Employees who work from home do not have to commute to and from the office. This can save them time and money on transportation costs.
  3. More comfortable work environment: Employees can work from the comfort of their own homes, where they can set up their workspace in a way that is most conducive to their productivity.
    1. They can even work in the clothes they choose to wear, from nothing to pajamas, to gym shorts and a tee shirt or even a suit and tie or nice dress. They do not have to get dressed up to go to the office unless they want to.
  4. Reduced risk of illness: Employees who work from home are less likely to be exposed to illness from their coworkers. This can lead to improved health and well-being.

Disadvantage for the employee …

Who works from home:

  1. Social isolation: Remote workers may feel isolated from their coworkers and the company culture. This can lead to loneliness and decreased morale.
    1. On the other hand, it can also reduce the “drama” found in many office environments.
  2. Distractions: It can be more difficult to stay focused and avoid distractions when working from home. This can lead to decreased productivity.
    1. This can be especially true if Mom or Dad are home trying to work and also trying to raise young children …
    2. Or for those who get addicted to watching TV or playing computer games.
  3. Unclear Boundaries: It can be difficult to separate work life from personal life when working from home. This can lead to overwork and burnout.
  4. Ergonomic challenges: Remote workers may not have access to the same ergonomic equipment and furniture as they would in an office setting. This can lead to discomfort and pain.

Closing words of advice:

Overall, working from home can have both advantages and disadvantages for both employers and employees. It is important to weigh the pros and cons carefully before deciding whether or not to work from home.

Here are some tips for making working from home a success for both employers and employees:

  • Set clear expectations and communication guidelines: Employers and employees should work together to set clear expectations for working from home. This includes establishing communication guidelines, such as how often employees should check in with their managers and how to best collaborate with coworkers.
    • Some employers are now requiring employees to work in the office one or two days per week.
  • Invest in the right tools and technology: Employers should provide remote workers with the necessary tools and technology to do their jobs effectively. This includes things like laptops, smartphones, and video conferencing software.
    • If the employer would provide this equipment in the office there is no reason it should not be provided at home since home has become an extension to the office.
    • That being said, the employee should treat this equipment as the employer’s and keep their personal things like games, software, etc. off the employer’s equipment just as they would in the office.
  • Create a dedicated workspace: Employees should set up a dedicated workspace in their homes where they can focus on their work. This workspace should be free from distractions and have all of the necessary equipment and supplies.
    • While this could require some expense and unless you are an independent contractor or self-employed it is not tax deductible. you have to agree, though, that it would be hard to get work done in the living room with the kids watching TV or at the kitchen table with your spouse trying to cook the noon or evening meal.
  • Take breaks and stay active: It is important for remote workers to take breaks throughout the day and to stay active. This will help to prevent fatigue and burnout.
    • Just as you take breaks when in the office at work … you need to take breaks while at home at work.
  • Connect with coworkers: Remote workers should make an effort to stay connected with their coworkers. They can do this by attending virtual meetings, participating in team chats, or simply reaching out to coworkers regularly.
    • My son and daughter both work from home and are constantly on Zoom calls with coworkers across the country on a daily basis.

By following these tips, employers and employees can make working from home a success for everyone involved.

That’s it for today. Remember to expect the best, anticipate the worst, and capitalize on whatever comes your way. Also, if you are not making waves by rowing the boat you are likely only drifting to where the currents take you and you may not like the end result.

Until next time …

Jerry Nix | Freewavemaker, LLC

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