As the world is going through a big crisis, everyone had to make several adjustments to cope with it, one being organizations switching to the work from home culture and coming to terms with both the benefits and disadvantages of working from home.
Since this switch, employees have been raving about how it's so great to be able to work remotely, independently, and on their own schedules, among all the other benefits of working from home . However, when we try to take a look at the bigger picture, there are still quite a few disadvantages of working from home. Everything in the world has its share of pros and cons. The work from home option is no different.
That being said, let us take a look at a few of the disadvantages of working from home, and decide for ourselves whether remote work is a boon or a bane.
The Top 7 Disadvantages of Working from Home
1. Lack of community and teamwork
Aristotle, the Greek philosopher, said,
"Man is by nature a social animal; an individual who is unsocial naturally and not accidentally is either beneath our notice or more than human. Society is something that precedes the individual."
So, it is evident that man cannot live alone, or for that matter, work alone efficiently and effectively. While some employees are quite excited about the idea of working alone, without the distractions of the workplace, some might find it difficult to spend long hours and collaborate with only a computer screen and no face to face interaction and communication with team members . Though there are various platforms like Zoom, Skype, etc., where employees can connect through video calls and conferences , it might not be as efficient as sitting together and brainstorming ideas to work effectively.
2. Lack of Motivation
Motivation drives people to power on and achieve their goals. It can be very easy to lose motivation , very quickly, when one is put in the wrong place and time. It further risks achieving the desired business outcomes.
Working at an office with fellow employees with a common goal and purpose, or having a pep talk with a senior at work, can be great sources of external motivation. Whereas, working from home lacks that kind of environment. Lack of motivation can make an employee's life difficult, and one might have a hard time continuing work. Though self-motivation works to a certain extent, it is not always enough to keep a man going. That's where the use of external motivation comes into play
3. Unmonitored performance and those frequent breaks
Working independently can be a tough job. The role requires employees to keep a check on their performance at work themselves. Self-regulation is a tough job, and work rests on the discretion of the employees. Employees might often tend to laze around and take frequent breaks, resulting in longer break time and less work time, when the breaks and work go unmonitored. Whereas, in the workplace, one is always reminded to be on the right track and perform efficiently and effectively, which is not always possible with remote work.
The following view is found on a thread on Reddit .
"It becomes hard to monitor how they work, or their deliverables. The degree of procrastination is something that can spiral out of control. Depending on the type of role you hire for; it is important to know how you are going to monitor their status."
4. Lack of Office Equipment and Security Concerns
Remote workers have loved the change from working at a cluttered office space to their own home office, which is quiet and comfortable. But, as everything has two sides to it, a home office too, has its drawbacks.
Setting up a home office with a high-end laptop/desktop, a high-speed internet connection, and other equipment, like printers/fax machines can be pretty costly, which is not very convenient for everyone. Furthermore, working over the internet might be a problem to access sensitive company documents, which otherwise are easily accessible in the workplace. Moreover, sharing those documents might raise security issues, for which, again, various steps need to be taken, such as the use of Virtual Private Networks or secure cloud access.
5. Distractions and lack of a good working environment
Remote work brings along with it the benefit of a good work-life balance. Employees feel that working from home avails them more time to be for their family and other life events. But there is more to the picture.
A survey released by Glassdoor , where nearly 1,000 American employees were asked about their top concerns when working from home between March 11 and March 13, 2020, reported that, roughly 32% of employees say watching TV is a top distraction when working remotely, followed by 27% who say child care is a huge distraction.
Employees need to focus and concentrate while working, to produce expected results. It proves to be highly difficult with the distractions of family wanting attention or other household noises. Not every household can provide good working conditions as an office space does.
Flexible working hours is one of the benefits of remote work, and it lets employees structure their days according to their convenience. But, this can turn into a disadvantage for some employees, as some may forget to clock out and might forget to differentiate between work-life and home-life, which might lead to working longer than one should, which might further lead to burn-out and added stress. Whereas, working in an office helps to draw the line between professional and private life.
7. Risk to productivity
It is claimed that working remotely increases productivity. But, with all the tempting distractions of mid-day naps, the web-series that was left on a cliffhanger, spending time with family, etc. makes it difficult to concentrate and be interested in work for long. Furthermore, working remotely can make one feel isolated and not motivated enough to work productively. So, it can be said that all of the various disadvantages discussed above can lead to loss in productivity when working from home.
So, Is working from home a boon or a bane?
In my opinion, grass is always greener on the other side. No system in this world is perfect. Everything has its own benefits and drawbacks, and we have to make the best out of everything. Some employees are comfortable working from home, and some are waiting to go back to their workplace, sit on their beloved office chair and meet their co-workers.
The disadvantages that have been pointed out, are reasons why some organisations are still not on-board with the idea of remote work, and the concern is real. But, there are various ways of employee engagement , which can help organisations get past these disadvantages.