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What Is Work From Home (WFH)?
Work from home, also known as its abbreviation “WFH,” refers to employees performing their job duties from the location of their home rather than in the company office. Working from home can mean working there everyday or a combination of working from home part-time and working in the office part-time. This combination is also known as hybrid working.
What Are The Benefits of Work From Home for Employers and Employees?
There are numerous benefits of working from home for both employers and employees. Not every employee or employer is going to benefit from every aspect of this arrangement, which is why you should evaluate your organization to see which of the following benefits applies.
- Work-life balance. Promoting a healthy work-life balance should be a top priority for employers. Working from home can help with this for a variety of reasons. Often working from home means employees are allowed a more flexible schedule. This frees up time for them to start and stop work when needed, run errands, cook meals, exercise, etc. Additionally, the comfort of one’s own home can often be a safe space and help with employee mental health. When employees have a positive work-life balance they typically perform better at work as well.
- Save money. Both employee and employer have opportunities to save money with a work from home structure. Employees can save money on meals from eating out, buying a professional wardrobe, work transportation, car maintenance and much more. Employers have the opportunity to save money on building fees, utilities, perks like free food and more.
- Commute. Employees who commute to work can spend a significant portion of their day simply driving. A study by INRIX Inc. revealed that traffic congestion costs each American 97 hours and $1,348 a year. These costs are less than ideal for both employee and employer. Although some people may enjoy it, most people would rather avoid sitting in traffic during a long commute if possible. The more time saved by cutting out a commute means the more time employees are available to work.
What Are the Drawbacks of Work From Home for Employers and Employees?
While there are many benefits to working from home, there are some drawbacks as well. Each organization is unique, which means what benefits one may be a drawback to another. Knowing what the potential drawbacks are prior to implementing a work from home structure is imperative.
- Distractions. Often working from home means employees are in an environment with more distractions than they would have in the office. Although some employees set up a “home office” it can be difficult to ignore distractions such as family members, pets, chores, television, and similar distractions that are only present in a home environment. These distractions can easily lead to less productivity.
- Social isolation. Countless people know the struggle of social isolation brought on by the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic. This can highly impact one’s mental health in a negative way. Working at home means employees aren’t going to be in the office each day and this often leads to a feeling of social isolation. Seeing team members over video just isn’t the same as physically being together in person. Many people need that human connection.
- Loss of productivity. Although there are many people who are more productive while working from home, there are also many that aren’t. Whether it be from distractions, mental illness caused by social isolation, technical issues or even the lack of efficient communication, many factors of working from home can create a less productive employee. Having to message a co-worker or manager to ask questions every day often results in slower response times which can impact how quickly employees work. Additionally, setting up a work from home environment can bring on technical issues that one wouldn’t face in the office, or if they did, they would have an onsite technical support team to assist. Technical issues are often a setback for employees and can significantly impact productivity.
How To Know if Work From Home Is Right for Your Organization
Depending on the organization, some aspects of working from home may be benefits while others are drawbacks. It’s important to take into consideration all the possibilities that come with working from home. If necessary, it is possible to do trial runs with employees by letting them work from home temporarily to see how feasible of an option it is. Another option is to have open communication among company leadership and employees to discuss potential questions, concerns and suggestions.
You Have a Culture of Trust
Working from home means that employees have more freedom with the way they spend their working hours. Although all employers would love to have complete trust in all of their employees, it’s not always appropriate or easy to do. If you have a culture of trust and autonomy then you’re already well on your way to creating a successful work from home team.
It’s obvious that having a workforce that works from home requires significant technology capabilities. Research what capabilities are needed for your organization to make this transition and assess if it’s a possibility.
You’re Looking To Expand Your Talent Pool
Providing the option to work from home can expand your talent pool immensely by opening up positions to candidates outside of your local area. If you’re looking to expand your talent pool, then providing this option may do that. In addition to opening the location possibilities, the option to work from home is a desirable aspect of jobs that many candidates are drawn to.
Best Practices for Managing Work From Home
Implementing a work from home structure for the first time has its challenges. It’s important to be aware of best practices prior to making this transition as well as keeping up with best practices as you continue the journey.
Set Clear Expectations
It’s important to set clear expectations when implementing a work from home structure. Tell your employees what your expectations of them are and inform them of what they can expect from you during this transition. Make sure managers communicate team-specific expectations. Some positions may require regular communication, a specific home office setup, internet capabilities and more.
Provide Tools for Success
Set your employees up for success by providing them with the necessary tools to achieve it. That may mean supplying physical equipment for their home office, tech support or even a monthly stipend for upgraded internet. Other forms of tools can look like access to articles, webinars, blogs, and more that teach about mental health and can guide your employees through this often unfamiliar experience.
We all know that communication is vital to a successful team. Driving consistent communication among co-workers will ensure your teams don’t skip a beat when they aren’t in the office together.
Tools To Make Working From Home Easier
It’s crucial to provide employees with the necessary tools when working from home. By doing this you can avoid potential drawbacks to this structure, empower employees and create a more successful organization.
Having effective communication tools is essential to a successful work from home organization. Communication tools are used for instant messaging, video conferencing, emailing and more. Examples of these types of tools include Google Slack, Microsoft Teams, Zoom and WebEx.
It’s important to have a centralized location where teams can share files, see updates and stay organized. There are many tools that can do this but some may integrate with your current tools better than others. Examples of these tools include Dropbox, Trello, Google Workspace, Microsoft Office, and Evernote.
Keeping confidential information secure is hard enough when working in the office. When employees have the freedom to work from home, the security risk grows and can be harder to control. Educating employees of this priority is essential and utilizing tools will greatly help. Examples of these tools are a VPN, authentication apps, antivirus software, remote wiping and so much more.
Questions You’ve Asked Us About Work From Home
Natalie De Spain
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