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Pros and Negatives to Working from Home
Prior to 2020, working from home was typically reserved for freelancers or those with extenuating circumstances such as long-term illness. Very few office workers experienced working from home, but the Covid-19 pandemic thrust almost all employees in every sector – especially those who usually worked an office job – into working from home.
What seemed like a temporary way of working very quickly turned into the new normal, and whilst this has worked for some businesses and their employees, it hasn’t worked for everyone. Some have thrived whilst others have struggled, creating a divide between those who are keen to return to life as it was pre-pandemic, and those who like the new way of working.
Flexible Working Hours
For many people, working from home has had one major benefit: flexible working hours. This has been of particular use to those who have children, as well as those who often find they don’t have enough time in the day.
A large number of employees have had to juggle working and homeschooling or looking after young children. A common solution has been to adjust working hours by way of either starting earlier, finishing later or trading a day off at the weekend for a day off during the week.
Whilst many employees have found themselves forced into new working hours, what it has proven to many is that businesses can afford to be more flexible and lenient with their working hours to suit each employee’s individual needs – something which many employees won’t be in a rush to sacrifice following the return to work in a post-Covid world.
Working from home cuts out commuting time entirely which has given many people an hour or more extra in their day. Pre-pandemic, Londoners spent more than 79 minutes on average commuting every day; some 20 minutes more than the rest of the UK who averaged just shy of 59 minutes commuting to work each day.
Whether it’s working out, spending more time with family or keeping on top of chores, the time gained from not having to commute has been greatly appreciated by many and has allowed them to strike a better work/life balance.
That being said, not everyone hates commuting and so this isn’t necessarily a positive. For some, spending time alone in the car is their chance to switch off and have some time alone which they may not necessarily otherwise get.
Regardless of whether or not the lack of commute is a welcome part of working from home, the lack of it has one universal benefit in the way of saving money.
Without having to factor in travelling to and from work, money can be saved. The average Londoner will spend around £305 commuting every month, whilst the rest of the UK average £146 per month. Over the course of a year, this equates to £3,660 and £1,752 respectively. When it comes to working from home, these costs are all but eradicated, resulting in big savings that can have a profound impact on a person’s life.
It’s not just commuting costs that count towards expenses; buying lunch does, too. Small purchases like coffee and snacks, as well as breakfast and lunch, can cost as much as £10 a day. That’s more than £200 a month.
Add that to commuting costs, and Londoners are looking at £505 a month just getting to and from work and buying food, whilst non-Londoners are likely to pay £346 per month. There is an argument to be made that food can be prepared at home, but with so much time lost to commuting, very few people find the time or motivation to prepare food the night before.
One of the biggest negatives of working at home comes in the form of social isolation. Those who live alone are particularly hard hit, but loneliness whilst working from home is an issue that more than 46% of all UK workers have faced.
Loneliness can have major effects on mental health, overall wellbeing and sleep patterns, as well as stress levels and physical health as a consequence.
For many workers, the time and costs involved with commuting to and from work are a better alternative to feeling lonely and isolated.
The last year has completely redefined how and where we work, and it’s likely that impact will continue to be felt for years to come. Working from home started off as a nice change: lots of free time, working from a comfy sofa, never wearing formal bottoms – but as time has gone on, the novelty has worn off.
There are some major benefits to be had by working from home, but there are also some glaring wellbeing issues – not to mention productivity and efficiency problems. What’s likely to happen is a new hybrid method of working will become the norm. This could see employers allowing their staff to mix working in the office alongside remote work.
Here at Future Squared, we can help you if you’re re-thinking your office space. We know the last year has been difficult, but our expert team are on hand to give you the support you and your employees need when it comes to your working space – no matter how you choose to use it. Please contact us to find out more.