Working from home was launched truly into the mainstream with the emergence of the pandemic in 2020, but as concern for COVID-19 recedes, getting employees back into the office can be a challenge.
According to a recent article by ABC News, Tesla chief executive Elon Musk claims that those who want to work from home are simply “trying to avoid work.” His stance clearly comes off as extreme, focussing on profits for the company, with no regard for public health.
The term “work from home” (WFH) was popularised when the COVID-19 pandemic hit the globe. With cities under lockdown, it was the only way for people to get work done. Now, as the pandemic rules ease, people are still preferring to work from home rather than physically be there at their offices.
There are a number of reasons why people have grown to like working from the comfort of their homes:
- They are saved from the hours and money spent commuting
- They can get work done at their pace without feeling pressurised
- There are fewer interruptions from meetings and chitchat
- Added to that is how people can end up making more time for their families and friends, especially since they would be less tired
- Overall, it helps people feel more in control of their lives and schedules
However, just like with anything else, there are as many negatives as positives to working from home.
The challenges of working from home
It can be challenging to create a company culture where members of a team can get to know one another to improve communications between them. Remotely being in contact with the team and company can also mean a higher chance of miscommunications. And one of the biggest concerns that arise from working remotely is perhaps the impact it has on mental health because of the lack of physical separation between work and leisure time.
In the case of small businesses and start-ups, it would definitely be easier for them to save up on the finances required for a fully functioning office space. But, on the other hand, the issues can be harder to deal with too. For instance, it would be much harder for small businesses to provide their employees with the equipment and tools to be able to work from home. The issues with communications and team management would in fact be harder for a small business, as compared to a larger company, unless the business is, say, a sole proprietary.
However, despite the various difficulties involved with working from home, people have started to prefer it.
A survey conducted by HiveDesk during the prime of the pandemic found that 33% of small businesses don’t plan to have an office at all and another 33% only intend to have their main staff working from an office. This implies that only 1 in 3 businesses would have a fully functioning office space.
This causes a long-term economic and financial issues to arise. If the proportion of people working from home is greater than those physically present, significant districts like Brisbane’s CBD suffer losses within the local economy. The profits that come in through property, public transport, food, and drink places suffer. This causes a long-term backlash on the country’s economy and goes on to affect things such as infrastructure and services.
Therefore, companies are starting to find ways to entice employees into coming to workspaces. According to a survey conducted by the workplace platform Envoy, 88% of companies are using incentives to get their employees back on-site. An article by Forbes discusses this and states that employers are having to use incentives that include, but are not limited to, monetary benefits and food benefits.
However, the one benefit that seems to be working with the most efficiency is perhaps offering employees the hybrid working model. Another study by Envoy reveals that “flexibility is the new employee benefit.”
With the world coming to the tail-end of the pandemic, anxieties related to it are finally easing. People are slowly becoming more comfortable with stepping out and being around people again. And so, the hybridity of work is turning out to be positive in creating a work-life balance and allowing flexibility to workers.
However, it is important to remember that any extreme (too much or too little work from home) can have negative effects on both individuals, and society as a whole.
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