Before the COVID-19 pandemic, we at Rise posted an article about the benefits of working from home.
Now that we’ve been working from home for almost two years, we couldn’t help but wonder how a massive WFH movement has affected these benefits. Do the tips we offered still ring true today? Or has working from home changed the way we feel about that out-of-office lifestyle?
Before we get too meta on you, let’s take a look at some of pros and cons of working at home for both employers and workers — and how to leverage the benefits while troubleshooting the downsides.
Working From Home Pros and Cons: What We Learned From COVID
We at Rise were always champions of the work-from-home lifestyle (or at least a hybrid version of it). But was the world really ready for the massive wave of telecommuters that was created by COVID?
Did we bite off more from this grandiose experiment than we could chew? Or did diving into the deep end create ideal conditions to test out the waters?
Let’s take a look at a few of the perks both employers and workers enjoyed as well as some of the challenges and how employers can maximize benefits without calling everyone back into the office.
WFH Perks for Employers and Workers
When it comes to the pros and cons of working from home, remote working sounds like it’s only beneficial to the employee. Forgoing that daily commute, working in your sweats, and taking as many breaks as you want? What’s even in it for the corporate office?
Allowing employees to work from home benefits the overall well-being of workers — and study after study proves there are myriad benefits for organizations, too, including higher productivity, happier employees, and lower overhead office costs.
Study after study showed that employees’ productivity soared throughout COVID lockdowns in 2020 and 2021.
Employees did get more work done (though many experts surmised employees may have been working longer hours and not producing more work during the same number of hours logged at the office).
Regardless of why employees are submitting more work, we do know that employees simply enjoy working from home more than in the office — which is why they’re willing to work longer hours to stay at home.
Again, studies show that employees are happier working from home. Though that happiness does come with some conditions.
Employees are generally only happier if their employers have accepted clear boundaries and are working to create a work-life balance.
When your employees are happy, they’re more productive and creative. They also happen to produce better work. You’re also more likely to retain these employees (which means less turnover).
Lower Operating Costs
The operating costs of an office (rent, utilities, admin staff, commuting benefits) can really add up.
Allowing some or all of your employees to work from home can help you cut back on these costs. Cutting down on the number of employees that work in the office (even if they only work in a hybrid model or are on-site a few days a week) could lead to downsizing your office.
Minimizing the number of employees working on-site may also lead to healthier employees. If your employees aren’t spreading germs, they’re less likely to get sick (or spread the flu, COVID, or other viruses to the rest of the team).
Pros and Cons of Working From Home How to Maximize WFH Benefits
Prior to 2020, we here at Rise had a hunch that employees would be happier and more productive if they worked from home. Now we have the hard data to back up those claims.
What we didn’t know two years ago were the challenges that both remote workers and employers would face. And we have some advice to help both parties continue to work more seamlessly together — both in and out of the office.
Let Go of Micromanaging
Do your employees want to work from home — or do they simply want to avoid the micromanaging eyes of their managers?
Before you balk at the idea of loosening the reins on your employees, ask yourself what you’d really lose by allowing them more freedom.
If your company can continue to allow employees to make their homes their nine-to-five home base (i.e., they don’t need to be physically at the office for hands-on or creative collaborative work), ask yourself why you really want them back.
Work-Life Balance Is Key
Yes, employees are overall happier when working from home. Some so much so that they would rather work longer hours while at home than commute to the office.
Yet, it didn’t take long for employees to start feeling frustrated. Many felt as though there weren’t enough boundaries between their work and home lives.
We now know that work-life balance must be prioritized if employees continue to work from home.
Depending on your organization, you may want to consider a hybrid work-from-home model (offering employees the option to work in the office or at a coworking space when it’s convenient for them).
Even though employees are happier at home, it doesn’t mean they don’t enjoy some of the perks of working on-site, too.
We all love co-workers (with boundaries). And fostering good relationships with our co-workers can make us all better employees — ones that are more likely to stick around long-term.
But we can’t create those bonds if we don’t have the tools to do so. Slack and Zoom can only get us so far. We recommend that workplaces create a sense of camaraderie and community (one that isn’t forced).
It’s also important to teach employees how to create, maintain, and respect boundaries with each other (something that wasn’t always a topic when employees were forced to work in side-by-side cubicles).
Whether your company is great at fostering a community feel or not, we always recommend connecting with others outside of your workplace. The Rise community exists to help you find your next aligned opportunity from mentors and collaborations to job interviews and profile features. Jump into the community here!
Has your opinion of WFH changed in the last two years? Have you noticed any working from home pros and cons — two years later? What would you love to see more of? What would you like to see change?