Working from home has become the ‘new normal’ in recent months, and it’s looking to be something more businesses will be open to in the future.
Previously a taboo subject surrounded by distrust in many workplaces, remote working is now being considered as a viable option where it once wasn’t — and it’s not just employees that can benefit.
From encouraging a better work/life balance to increasing productivity, there are many benefits to working from home for both employers and employees. Let’s take a look at some of them below.
Many people find working from home much more comfortable. With a home office, you can curate your own workspace and make it suited to your way of working. Whether that be standing up at your desk, or sitting on the sofa, having a work environment you can relax in is a great way to improve productivity.
Research conducted by Drayton and Onepoll.com discovered there’s a real mix in terms of where people actually work when they’re at home — 36% of people work from their living room, 26% in a home office, 13% in their kitchen and 10% work from their bed!
When you spend eight hours in the office each day, it can feel like you’re never at home. Working from home allows more time to spend with your family, more time at home to tackle that pile of laundry, and more flexibility when you have appointments to go to, or contractors coming round to fix the boiler!
According to FlexJobs’ 2018 Annual Survey, 73% of respondents said that work-life balance is an important factor when evaluating a job prospect. In the same survey, 45% of people said a job with flexibility would have a huge improvement on their overall quality of life, and 52% said it would have a positive impact. Additionally, 77% of people believe having a flexible job would allow them to be healthier.
According to a survey by Airtasker, 1 in 4 people have previously quit a job due to a long commute. But, working from home cuts out the dreaded morning commute entirely. Not only will you save money on travel expenses, but you’ll also arrive at your desk less stressed and more ready for the day ahead.
Plus, there’s so much you can do with the added time in the morning — sleep longer, exercise, get ahead on household chores, or even start a side hustle!
TUC’s 2018 survey revealed that we spend almost 59 minutes a day commuting on average — that’s 221 hours a year! With longer commute times being associated with increased stress, and other health conditions, working from home could actually encourage a healthier lifestyle.
On top of saving money on travel, there are also other money-saving benefits to remote working. When you don’t have to commute to a specific location, you can choose to live anywhere (within budget).
House prices tend to skyrocket in popular locations, meaning commuter areas typically cost more to live in. Not having to live as close to work — or to a train station — opens up your options a lot more when house hunting, and you can benefit from cheaper housing locations.
Something else you can save money on when working remotely is food. When you work from home, there’s no need to worry about forgetting to make lunch and having to buy something — all of those meal deals add up! Instead, you can quickly whip something up in your kitchen.
Many work-from-home jobs also allow flexible working, which contributes to a better work-life balance. The regular 9-5 simply doesn’t suit everyone — some people work better in the evening, and others prefer to start work as early as possible.
Having the ability to work when you are most productive can only be advantageous. Flexible working hours also allow you to go to appointments without having to book time off or worry about being late back to the office.
Many workplaces are guilty of having unproductive meetings. Yet, when working remotely, because you generally have fewer meetings, when they do arise, you’re likely to be more prepared and have a better idea of the task at hand — i.e. no wasted meeting time figuring thoughts out. Plus, with programmes like Skype, Microsoft Teams and Slack, it’s never been easier to keep in contact with your colleagues.
Working in an office — especially an open-plan office, or one that operates with hot desks — is full of distractions. From constant meetings to background noise, and not feeling settled at your desk, the average working day is often very stop-start.
However, working from home allows you to get into your working zone and focus without unwanted distractions. A survey from Finder.com revealed that 75% of workers believe they are more productive when working from home because of reduced distractions.
FlexJobs’ survey revealed that 86% of professionals think a flexible or telecommuting job would allow them to reduce stress, and 97% said a job with flexibility would have a huge improvement or positive impact on their overall quality of life.
Cutting out the morning commute, not having to hear about your colleagues’ achievements and not having your manager checking up on you as much can all reduce work stress and pressure. Additionally, when you work from somewhere you feel more comfortable and have more flexibility/less pressure within your day-to-day, it can prove advantageous to your mental health.
Naturally, if you work from home, you see fewer people on a daily basis — especially if you live alone. This means that working from home can be lonely if you don’t make an effort to get out and about and socialise.
While technology makes it easy for us to connect to colleagues and clients across the world, it also comes with its challenges. Poor WiFi signal, video calls that lose connection and cryptically-worded emails are some of the most common issues.
When you work from home, the line between work and life can often get a little blurred, and you may find yourself working longer hours than usual. Putting boundaries in place (e.g. closing your laptop at 5:30 pm or not replying to emails after 6 pm) and setting up a designated workspace in your home can help.
Allowing employees to work from home — even if it's part-time, will massively reduce your office costs. Not only will there be no need to pay for office space (or as big an office space), you’ll also cut down spending on office supplies and snacks.
While productivity all comes down to the individual, according to Finder.com, 83% of employees feel they don’t need an office to be productive, and two-thirds of employers report increased productivity for remote workers compared to in-office workers. Allowing your employees the freedom to work from home is a brilliant way to increase productivity and output.
When employers require staff to travel to work each day, they can only access candidates within a certain proximity. Yet, businesses that allow remote working open their workplace up to a much more diverse workforce. Offering remote working makes jobs available to people from different backgrounds, races, skillsets and those with disabilities, who may not be able to commute to an office.
As well as the benefits to staff health and wellbeing, working from home can also positively impact the environment. For example, cutting down on the morning commute can significantly reduce carbon emissions.
A study by Sun Microsystems, Inc found that commuting accounted for more than 98% of each employee's carbon footprint for work. Remote working also reduces energy consumption. Keeping an office space lit and heated uses a lot of energy, but allowing employees to work from home will minimise this.
Paper wastage that often happens in the office will also decrease with remote working — not only will working from home stop unnecessary documents being printed off, but individuals are more likely to be savvy with paper usage/printing when they are paying for it (the same goes for energy consumption, too).
A remote workers survey by TINYpulse found that employees who work remotely feel happier and more valued at work compared to employees across all work arrangements. Similarly, findings from a Totaljobs survey show that 28% of employees see the agreement to work from home as a sign of trust from their boss.
Typically, happy workers who feel trusted by their employer are more loyal to their company. Data shows that 76% of people believe they’d be more loyal to their employers if they had flexible work options. One study also found that compared to people at low-trust companies, people at high-trust companies report 74% less stress, 106% more energy at work, 50% higher productivity, 13% fewer sick days, 76% more engagement, 29% more satisfaction with their lives and 40% less burnout. Trust goes a long way in the workplace.
Data reveals that 24% of employers offer remote working as it helps to reduce staff leave. When staff work from home, they are much less likely to call in sick for minor ailments. With some illnesses, the thought of going into the office is an uncomfortable one, but when working from home, it's not so bad.
While the majority of employees note higher productivity levels when working from home, some individuals may not get on so well. There is also the chance that over time, the novelty of working from home will wear off and employees may return to old non-productive habits. Other than installing tracking software (which some employees may not agree with) and monitoring actual output, it can be hard to monitor whether employees are using their time wisely when working from home.
It can be hard to aid staff development when your employees do not spend a lot of time in the office. Most workplaces offer staff training days, which are not as easy to execute through video calls. It can also be hard to monitor how employees are progressing within their roles when they work from home and without face-to-face conversations.
Allowing staff to work from home does come with a number of security risks. CyberArk found that 57% of remote workers insecurely save passwords in browsers on their corporate devices, 89% reuse passwords across applications and devices, and 21% allow other members of their household to use their corporate devices — all of which are big security risks. As an employer, you’ll need to be sure to educate your employees about security best practices when working from home.
As we’ve learnt throughout this article, there are many benefits to working from home — in fact, you could say the advantages outweigh the disadvantages.
Ultimately, the productivity of employees when working from home will largely come down to the individual. Some personality types love the versatility and the home comforts, whereas others prefer the structure and face-to-face meetings that come with office-based working.
As an employee, you’ll have to decide what works best for you. And, as an employer, being open the option of working from home will not only put you in the good books of your employees, but it may also help increase staff retention, health and loyalty. It’s a win-win situation.