Every office worker has, at some point in their career, complained about their life in the office; Whether it’s issues with their commute or the monotony that comes with working in an office cubicle or desk. Whatever the reason may be, it can result in employees having a lack of motivation and therefore results in lower employee productivity.
Thanks to the rapid advancement of technology, it has become easier and easier for some employees to be able to work from home. However, despite the many benefits that come with working from home, it wasn’t a trend that gained any traction until recently.
The global pandemic and lockdown restrictions that were brought into force in the UK caused businesses to change the way they work, rapidly moving to work from home to protect their employees and the general public. Now lockdown restrictions have been lifted, many employers are working out what their working model will look like in a post-Covid world. How much will office working feature, if at all?
1 month on from the final restrictions lifting and opinions are divided between companies. Some are planning on a full return to the office, some are looking to adopt a hybrid model with a mix of office and home working, while others are planning a full shift to remote working.
However, opinions are less divided between employees. Results from a recent survey showed that nearly three-quarters of employees would prefer the long-term ability to work flexibly between home and the office rather than full return to the office with a 10% pay rise.
With the debate still very much ongoing, we’ve looked at the differences to consider when it comes to working from home or working in the office.
When working from the office there is usually a strict timetable to follow. There are set start and finish times, with rigidly scheduled break times that need to be followed. When working from home, this schedule can be much more flexible.
While there may be some sort of work schedule in place, it tends to be a lot less rigid. Employees are usually able to start and finish later on occasion and choose when to take their lunch. This flexibility means it can be a lot easier to manage your work and other commitments in your life; It’s a lot easier to take a break during the day to attend a doctor’s appointment, help your child with homework, plan your meals for the week and make the time up later. All of this can provide a better work/life balance which will help boost employee motivation and productivity at work.
However, if this flexibility isn’t managed correctly, employees may find they are struggling to disconnect when working from home. While a less rigid schedule certainly has its benefits, it can sometimes put employees off track. The lines between work and home become blurred, and they might even end up spending more time than usual at their desk.
This has already been the case for some employees and had led to calls for the right to disconnect to be implemented in the UK. However, experts are still trying to figure out how this would work while also keeping the flexibility working from home can provide.
A study conducted by UC Irvine found that a typical office worker is interrupted every 11 minutes. While that statistic alone is shocking enough, they also found that it can take 25 minutes for them to get back on task. This is a lot of time gone to waste, and a huge hit on productivity levels.
When working in an office, there are all sorts of things that can distract you; Talkative co-workers, office politics, and noisy work environments all have the potential to take your focus away from your work. Needless to say, working from home can create a huge uptick in productivity levels as, usually, these kinds of distractions are not as prevalent.
A 2020 survey from FlexJob found that 51% of workers believed themselves to be more productive when working from home during the pandemic. When asked why 68% cited fewer interruptions and quiet work environments as part of the reason they were able to be more productive.
Working in the office can create some “false positives” when it comes to measuring productivity. Coming in early and leaving late may look like work but looking at performance will give a more accurate view of an employee’s productivity. Working from home can remove all these inaccurate indicators, allowing you to focus on the indicators that really matter.
This is not to say this will work for everyone. While working in an office has some very clear distractions, if an employee is particularly prone to procrastinating, they’re likely to do so more working from home where they can’t be as closely monitored. Working in an environment that is bustling with activity from people working can also be a big motivator for employees to get through their work.
One of the most common factors discussed when it comes to debating whether to work from home or work in the office is the financial costs.
One of the most obvious costs of working in an office is the cost of commuting. Whether commuting by public transport or by car, these costs can take a considerable portion of an employee’s monthly salary. Working in an office means you’re more likely to be tempted to pick up a coffee or buy lunch throughout the day. While these individual purchases are small, the expense of them does add up when done frequently.
Working from home has several money-saving perks. The commuting expenses are completely removed, and you’ll be a lot less tempted to go out after work or spend money grabbing a takeaway coffee and lunch each day.
Working from home can also save employers money. Rent costs for office space and utility bills can be significantly lowered if a hybrid model is adopted, or completely removed if a fully remote option is chosen instead.
This isn’t to say that working from home isn’t completely free of costs. Broadband, energy, and other utility costs are inevitably going to increase as you will be at home more. Other typical work from home expenses includes but are not limited to desks, chairs, network routers, and monitors. Some employers may take on this financial burden, but this isn’t always the case.
While you do save in some ways by working from home, it’s important to recognize and think about these costs. Weighing up whether these costs are less or more than the cost of working in the office will be a big factor in deciding what will work best.
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