Remote work has been on the rise for years in many companies. Some offer remote work as a benefit to employees for better work-life balance.
Today, millions of people around the world have recently started working from home (WFH) because of the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak.
The lingering COVID-19 pandemic has driven many businesses to reimagine how both their workforce and consumers will interface in the future. For employees, working from home has presented new challenges and opportunities.
However, which is a more productive environment for employees? The home office or the office? We still need to figure out.
Benefits of working remotely
1. Availability of a flexible schedule
One of the hardest things about committing to a 9-to-5 desk job is that it prevents you from being able to handle almost anything else that comes up in your life, whether attending a routine dentist appointment or picking a sick kid up from school. When you work from home, while you still have to meet your deadlines and be available when you say you will be, you generally have wider bandwidth to tend to other responsibilities without jeopardizing your job.
2. There is no commute time or expense.
We can save a lot of money and avoid wasting hours that we usually spend simply getting to and from work. Moreover, we can save a lot of time by avoiding those hectic traffic battles.
3. More autonomous employees
Giving your employees the ability to work from home allows them to operate in a way that suits them. People can be very particular about how and when they like to work. In an office environment, all employees must adapt to the same approach. However, at home, they have much more control.
Some workers will subscribe to the tidy office, tidy mind mantra, and need to create a serene, spotless environment to be able to perform at their best. Other workers, perhaps those with a more creative bent, might do their best work curled up on the sofa or even late at night.
On the other end of the scale, the challenges of team collaboration and communication become apparent when team members are dispersed in isolation. They also feel constantly attached to work while distracted by things at home.
Challenges of work from home
1. The challenge of staying motivated
For some people, the challenge becomes one of motivation. Without the regular blips of pleasure they experience joshing with colleagues or chatting inconsequentially about nothing much, the day begins to seem all work and no pleasure. In this situation, mood can quickly drop, and then it can be hard to motivate ourselves to get on with things, especially things we aren’t looking forward to, don’t enjoy, or find hard to do.
Five in ten women facing motivational challenges in the work-from-home scenario: Survey
The survey, titled “Remote Working And Its Impact On Women Professionals”, was carried out across 250 women across New Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Pune, and Kolkata.
The study finds that while 67% of the managers fare well in respecting timings, there is still a fairly large section (33%) that does not.
The current pandemic has allowed men to share the load at home, however, managers (mostly male) haven’t been sensitive to this aspect resulting in creating higher stress levels for women.
Women have also been victims of the “double burden syndrome” where they are now expected to double up on the home chores with the increased workload from office, which impacts their mental well-being to a great extent.
Additionally, over 50% are facing motivational challenges in the WFH scenario. A decrease in performance and a drop in motivation end up extending the amount of time required for each task for 75% of women surveyed.
2. Technology and network hiccups
Nothing makes a remote worker shake in fear as much as an internet outage. Or, perhaps, when your computer breaks. Both are your problems to solve.
Networking remains an essential way to stay relevant to employees. If you don’t budget time and money for trade shows, professional association memberships, masterminds, and other industry groups, you lose touch with those holding the power to make your career or business success.
3. Communication & Coordination Challenge
When everyone works from home, it becomes all the harder to stay on the same page.
Emails, phone calls, and even video calls remove much of the nuance from how we communicate. But just think back to the last time someone misinterpreted an email or text message you sent for a quick example.This problem is so inherent in virtual businesses that an entire industry has sprung up to solve it.
4. Blurred Line Between Personal & Professional Life
On the other side of the coin, when you work from home, you no longer have a clear geographic division between workspace and personal space.
Ideally, your home is a place of relaxation, safety, and security. It’s a place where you subconsciously slip into a calm, easygoing state of mind, putting the stresses of the workday behind you.
Working from home punches a hole right through that neat mental division. Many telecommuters complain they feel like they’re never off the job. They always feel a compulsion to check email or get “just one last thing done.”
In other words, they have a hard time turning off and relaxing.
Even if you decide on a set schedule and have a dedicated space to work, actually staying productive during your working hours can prove challenging if you’re working from home.
Surrounded by your personal belongings and reminders of chores, it’s hard to focus. Distractions like your TV, books, and the laundry start calling to you.
6. Social Isolation
“To a certain extent, your co-workers are your social circle. Sometimes it is hard to explain to others that all your friends are online.”– Cody Jones
Sitting at home by yourself all day takes a toll.
Humans are social animals. They need interaction with other people. Without a watercooler to swap jokes, stories, and shop talk around occasionally, telecommuters can get lonely.
Video Conferencing helps — a little. But it’s not the same as face-to-face interaction.
If you don’t have family members home with you, you might have the opposite problem: isolation.
Interacting with other people is a positive aspect of many jobs. Yes, you’re there to work, but social contact is also important and can help with productivity. Having a feed in your chosen communication app devoted to unrelated to work topics could help.
8. Time zone differences
Related to being or feeling out of the loop: those terrible time zones. You might be waking up just when your teammate is going to bed. That means you can’t always rely on your fellow team member to be available to answer a pressing question or solve any other immediate need.
Tips for working from home. Don’t underestimate facetime. Be more communicative than usual.
Keep it professional. Even if you don’t have a dedicated office, try to set up a workspace and make it off-limits to the rest of your household while you’re working. There’s nothing worse than being on an important work call only to have the doorbell ringing and the kids screaming in the background.
Set specific touchpoints with your team. It’s smart to set a time each day/week for regular check-ins with your colleagues. That will not only help you stay accountable, but it will also remind your office counterparts that you’re still an important part of the team.
Despite the challenges above, remote work is very rewarding—as long as you know what you’re getting into and can handle these common issues. If you persevere, you’ll enjoy flexibility, autonomy, the chance to work in your best environment, higher productivity—and perhaps also more time for a life outside of work as well.
Sources: Economic Times
Written by:- TANIYA ARORA
She is pursuing BBA from Indira Gandhi Delhi Technical University for Women. She is an enthusiastic learner and an ardent researcher.
Edited by:- SHWETA MITTAL, Senior Editor