Just a couple of years ago, working from home was a privilege that not many people got to enjoy. Very few niche jobs offered this perk to its employees while most others can only dream of it. Fast forward to 2020 and everything changed. COVID-19 turned the world topsy-turvy in every possible way. One of the biggest changes that the corporate world saw was moving work from office to home. It was a huge shift that came with a lot of challenges at the start. How are we going to connect with teams seamlessly to get work done? How do we ensure productivity doesn’t drop? Will teamwork and efficiency be affected? There were so many questions and no one had the answers. We all had to just take the plunge, hope for the best and move forward.
We are more than two years into the pandemic and working from home is common practice. Organizations of all sizes have adapted to this and apparently they are thriving. Without a doubt, working from home has its benefits – you do not have to be stuck in traffic for hours, you save on fuel costs, your laundry load will likely be reduced and you don’t have to worry about being distracted by chatty co-workers.
The big question remains: is work from home here to stay? Is it the new normal? While there is no denying the pros, not many have thought over the cons and how they affect people and work culture in the long run. Below are some crucial reasons why work from home may not be as good as everyone thinks.
- Collaboration with Team: This is one of the biggest concerns with working from home. It probably doesn’t affect you much if you work independently for the most part, but if you work in a team environment, collaboration with your team becomes much more challenging. When you are in the office and you have a great idea that you want to share with your team, you are able to just walk over to their desk and say it before the idea or it’s accompanying enthusiasm fades. However, when you are working from home and you have an idea, you’d have to email your team to book a time for a Microsoft Teams or Zoom meeting, at a time that works for each person. Most likely, by the time everybody responds with their availability, the spark is already gone. It doesn’t matter what kind of technology you have in place; nothing can ever replace the effectiveness of in-person collaboration.
- Declining Mental Health: A recent study presented in the book ‘Wellbeing at Work’ reports that about 25% of North Americans feel lonely while working from home. Prolonged periods of working from home without in-person interaction with your colleagues can lead to loneliness and eventually the decline of one’s mental health. When you’re mentally not at your healthiest, it is bound to affect productivity and employee turnover rate. Feeling disconnected from the team and co-workers will result in strained work-relationships, and employees may not be as willing to help one another or just have a lackadaisical attitude towards work in general.
- Lack of Motivation: We can all agree that working from home requires a great deal of self-discipline and motivation. There are plenty of distractions at home and there is always a couch and television in your vicinity. To wake up everyday, overcome these distractions and get to work with determination and enthusiasm isn’t something that comes easily to all. However, when you are in the office, distractions are way lesser and you’re more likely to get work done faster. Plus, you always have your co-workers to keep you on your toes.
- Work Life Balance: According to a new research conducted during the pandemic, nearly 45% of employees that are working from home said they are putting in more hours than ever before. A huge percentage of respondents also said that they work weekends, which never happened before COVID. When there is no clear distinction between work and personal life, it tends to overlap or merge, leading to a poor work life balance. This is an exhausting way to work and may cause burnout. When you are in the office, you are able to shut down at 5 pm (there are exceptions, of course). And while you’re out, you can catch up with a friend for a coffee or bite. You likely won’t do this if you’re tucked in your couch, working in your PJs.
There are always two sides to a coin. While there is no denying that there are positive aspects to working from home, the long-term effects are proving to be more detrimental than many people realize. Everything needs balance, which is why hybrid work is gaining popularity.
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