The Reality of Remote Working: The Pros and Cons of Working from Home
While we all have our own long and often convoluted job titles, there is another label that many of us begrudgingly wear, and that is the label of commuter. It’s not uncommon for workers in the UK to travel an hour or more each way to and from work. Long commutes can turn a blink and you’ll miss it 8 hour day into a gruelling 11 hour slog, so it is no surprise that the daily commute is a major bone of contention for people in all walks of life.
Long and tiresome commutes are a driving factor in many people’s decision to work remotely from home. However, while advances like high speed internet and telephone answering services make remote working much more viable than 10 years ago, remote working might not be the one stop shop to a happy work life that it’s cracked up to be. Commuting aside, here are some of the biggest pros and cons of working from home.
The Benefits of Working from Home
The primary benefit of remote working from a home office is that it empowers workers to manage the relationship between their home life and their work life. By outsourcing tasks like telephone answering that require regimented hours of work to a dedicated outsourced call centre, trained workers can prioritise their workload and adjust their schedule accordingly. The flexibility this affords is great for staff as it means they can have an active role in child care and other important family relationships. This improves staff wellbeing and overall productivity.
The flexible working hours that remote working affords staff can also be beneficial to employers. While staff may take time off from a traditional office for medical appointments and interviews, offering more flexible working hours means staff can attend these appointments while still completing a full day’s work. Similarly, while an employee may call in sick when working in the office, if they are working from home they’re more likely to carry on working when they’re feeling under the weather.
Remote working can also be cost effective. Employing remote workers means that less office space is needed which can help to reduce overheads. If remote working is combined with outsourcing things like telephone answering to a UK call centre, a successful company could be run from a small base of operation in a co-working environment, or even with no office at all.
The Problem with Working from Home
While the promise of increased responsibility and control over work hours is often the biggest draw to working from home, it can also be the biggest problem. Working from home takes fantastic discipline. In an environment that is completely unsupervised with all the amenities and entertainments of your house, it is all too easy for a 5 minute break to turn into an hour watching daytime TV. It can also become increasingly tempting to nip out during the day because you can make up the hours later, only to end up working late into the night. For remote working to be a success, you must set strict rules and stick to them. Some people even go as far as to dress in ‘work clothes’ to create a division in their mind between work time and free time.
Another problem with working from home is the lack of support that can sometimes be offered to remote workers. While workers in an office will have a team of IT, tech support, receptionists and HR on hand for any queries they might have, remote workers are out in the wilderness on their own. While a remote worker can send an email across to head office if there is a query, it could mean a technical issue isn’t resolved for a few hours which is damaging to productivity.
Similarly some remote workers may find there is little emotional support for them when working from home. In a busy office, you talk to many people every day, some of whom you will build close working relationships and even friendships with. In a remote working environment there is none of that. Working from home, a remote worker could easily go for a week without having a face to face conversation with a colleague. Because of this it’s vital anyone working from home makes the most of tools like Skype, instant messengers, and even good old fashioned phone calls to keep in touch with their colleagues on a regular basis.
The Reality of Remote Working
As we’ve seen there are still a few problems with remote working, but many of these stem from the fact that remote working is still a relatively new phenomenon in the world of business. While studies show that remote working is beneficial to productivity, and practices like outsourcing telephone answering to a UK call centre make remote working a more viable option for many businesses, it is likely we will see remote working become more common.
As remote working does become more common, systems will be put in place by companies to combat the existing problems of discipline and support for remote workers. With these systems in place and support from external specialists like a good telephone answering service outsourced to a reputable company, there is no reason why remote working couldn’t become a standard practice in the UK.
Reuben Singh is one of the UK’s most successful entrepreneurs with over 20 years’ experience founding and directing industry leading businesses.