The Rise in Working from Home

dakar software latest news

The Rise in Working from Home

Until recently, working from home was viewed simply as a perk for special employees. Most chief officers were largely against the idea.

They would say: how do I know what they’re doing? This has the obvious response: how do you know what they’re doing now?

Of course the pandemic has forced employers and employees to embrace working from home full time. Resulting in a huge, unintended HR experiment.

Now, with the pandemic hopefully in retreat, this article discusses the result of this ‘experiment’ and the future of home working.

What We Learnt

Perhaps the biggest lesson learnt is that managers have less to fear in terms of productivity than originally thought. There is plenty of evidence that the productivity of stay-at-home workers is higher than that of their colleagues on site. A study by Airtasker* states that on average, remote employees worked 1.4 more days every month, or 16.8 more days every year, than those who worked in an office.

Source: Airtasker

From the employees’ point of view they have had plenty of time to evaluate the pros and cons of home working and many have found that they like it. One study in the US found that 91% of those questioned hoped that their company would continue to offer home working in some shape or form. Another study by Owl Labs* found that 59% of people would be more likely to choose an employer that offered remote working.

Source: Owllabs

The Pros and Cons

Although the experiment as a whole can be considered a success; imagine the pandemic without being able to work from home (for those that could), it’s not all plain sailing.

Benefits of remote working for employers

Health and safety of its employees. This is a short-term benefit that has been highlighted during the pandemic.

Cost savings. This is a long-term benefit. If a company has less employees in the office, they require less office space, utilities etc.

Talent pool expands as employees can be hired from anywhere;

Another potential long-term advantage for employers is the productivity gains that result from a more flexible work environment. It’s well known that different employees are more productive at certain times of the day. If employees are allowed to choose not only where they work but when they work, productivity can significantly increase.

Disadvantages for an employer

The employer will have to set up the infrastructure to support and monitor employees working from home;

Security can be a real issue, not just for working from home but also remote working. Many people when working outside of the office do so in public places, i.e. a coffee shop or airport. This can present enormous security risks;

Even if all work is done from the employee’s ‘home office’, considerable time and money will have to be spent ensuring that connections are secure and employees are security aware, i.e. don’t leave the laptop open for the flat mate to access.

A lesser but interesting phenomenon is that more women (68%) would prefer to work from home than men (57%)*. Possibly leading to a gender imbalance in the workplace;

Also, it’s those that are physically present who possibly exert more influence than those individuals who are working from home and appear only on video. Therefore, the people in the room are more likely to get recognized for the work that they do and thus more likely to get promoted.

Source: Flexjobs

Benefits for remote working for employees

Better work-life balance (potentially);

Cost savings from not commuting, buying meals, clothing etc;

Disadvantages for an employee

Loneliness and isolation;

Employees that go into the office are likely to get more exercise by using stairs, going to meetings, getting lunch etc.;

Remote employees can have more difficulty finding work-life balance than office-based workers;

Advantages for everyone

Working from home is good for the environment. Transportation accounts for 29% of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States according to the EPA*. And light duty vehicles (cars) make up 59% of these emissions, working from home could significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Source: EPA

The Hybrid Model

Hybrid working generally allows the employee to work some part of the week in the office and the rest from home.

It seeks to address some of the problems found when employees either work totally from home or on site. There are no hard and fast rules as to what the split should be but there is some evidence that agreeing the times that the employee should be in the office or available from home can be beneficial for both the employee and employer.

Benefits for remote working for employees

It seems clear that home working is here to stay. Many leading companies, Google and Facebook to name two, are actively encouraging employees to work from home. When in the past, companies such as these were extoling the campus culture. Perhaps huge companies like Google have more to gain and are therefore more aggressive in promoting home working.

So working from home saves money. And that’s why we go to work right? That’s why companies exist. But here’s the rub; most companies will do anything to shave a few cents off the bottom line, whereas the employee may actually give up part of their salary to achieve the elusive work-life balance, which may not include working from home. Whilst this is not necessarily a dichotomy of interests, it certainly raises questions about who benefits most and whether employees will be pushed into home working when it’s not suitable for them.

That being said, hybrid working, with clear boundaries and planning, should make it possible for most employers and employees to benefit from remote working. Unfortunately, the current events in eastern Europe probably mean the experiment is set to continue anyway.

Dakar Software Systems is Malta’s leading supplier of cloud-based payroll and HR software. It offers hosting of all its products, allowing individuals and companies to work from anywhere in the world.