Pros and cons of working from home


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Pros and cons of working from home

For small business owners, the idea of letting employees work from home can seem intimidating, or at the very least one more thing to manage during the day. One of the biggest concerns is arguably whether or not productivity of employees working from home suffersi. A recent study conducted by Stanford University found that employees who switch from working in an office to working from home (WFH) had a 13 per cent performance increase as well as higher rates of job satisfactionii.

Increased flexibility, productivity and cost-savings are some advantages of working from home.

Pros

Flexibility: When employees work from home, there is increased flexibility in what they do and how and when they do itiii. Although this may seem hard to monitor, the increased flexibility can prove advantageous to certain businesses. For example, allowing employees the freedom to work at home in the way they see fit can allow them to feel more comfortable working, therefore increasing their job satisfaction and performanceiv.

The flexibility of working from home also extends to work hours. Employees can chop and change their hours to suit both their and the business' needs, enabling them to attend to personal matters without wasting company timeii. Allowing your employees to work when they want, while still meeting performance criteria, provides incentives for them to work when they will be most productivev. Similarly, for employers, providing greater flexibility of working hours can reduce staffing turnover. Keeping your employees on the books rather than having to recruit, hire and retrain new staff members can reduce costs in the long termv.

Cutting costs: Another added benefit of employees working from home is that the demands of renting or owning a workplace are minimised. The brick and mortar costs are reduced as employees use their own homes as office spacesv. This however can present problems in terms of paying for technological resources and accounting for their usagev. For the employee, commuting costs can be cut down while other expenses for business-wear, dry-cleaning and lunch are also reducediii.

Productivity: Since they are working alone, there will be fewer distractions from co-workers and workplace noise. The employee can also adjust their home environment so that the conditions are just right for them to work productively. That being said, there are other types of distractions present in the household and determination, motivation and dedication to their work is necessary for a productive work from home employeei.

Cons

Monitoring performance: One drawback of allowing employees to work from home is that there is no easy way to monitor their performance. Ensuring accountability and reliability becomes difficult for some job roles without being able to directly supervise employees in one physical settingv.

The lack of physical separation between the office and home can lead to difficulties maintaining a work-life balance.

Work-life balance: As convenient as it is for the home to double up as a workplace, it can also create the problem of not knowing when to separate work life from home lifevi. The lack of physical separation from the office to the home can lead to difficulties maintaining a work-life balancevi. Employees may try to do their work while performing household tasks, looking after children, and so on, detracting from the quality of their work. Equally, employees may cut into their private time and work overtime to produce results, not being able to draw a line between their work and private lifeiii. To maintain a proper work-life balance, employees will need to exercise a high degree of self-discipline.

Recognition and comradery: It may be difficult to establish team ethos when employees are working in separate places. This proves especially detrimental if solutions need to be devised as a team. Employees may also experience isolation, which can have a negative impact on the quality of their workiv. Also, employees may not receive sufficient recognition for their work resulting in performance anxiety and job dissatisfaction.

iDickey, M.R. 2013, 'How to convince your boss to let you work from home', Business Insider Australia, 14 August, viewed 1 December 2014,
http://www.businessinsider.com.au/convince-boss-to-let-you-work-from-home-2013-8

iiBloom, N, Liang, J, Roberts, J, Ying, Z.J. 2014, Does working from home work? Evidence from a Chinese experiment, viewed 1 December 2014,
http://web.stanford.edu/~nbloom/WFH.pdf

iiiSmith, J 2013, 'How to succeed at working from home', Forbes, 8 December, viewed 1 December 2014,
http://www.forbes.com/sites/jacquelynsmith/2013/08/12/how-to-succeed-at-working-from-home-2/

ivCraig, W 2014, 'Employees who work from home are more productive than office-dwellers', Forbes, 27 August, viewed 1 December 2014,
http://www.forbes.com/sites/groupthink/2014/08/27/employees-who-work-at-home-are-more-productive-than-office-dwellers/

vGlobal Workplace Analytics, Costs and Benefits, viewed 1 December 2014,
http://globalworkplaceanalytics.com/resources/costs-benefits

viSteinkirchner, S 2012, 'The pros and cons of working at home', Forbes, 25 April, viewed 1 December 2014,
http://www.forbes.com/sites/sundaysteinkirchner/2012/04/25/home-office-vs-open-shop-the-pros-and-cons-of-working-at-home/