The COVID-19 pandemic has completely changed the global working environment and people’s perspectives on those who have been working from home (WFH). Originally, those who are WFH – in particular, freelancers – are perceived as lazy and not as productive as their work from office (WFO) counterparts.
But now that everyone has experienced WFH due to quarantine lockdowns, many have seen the advantages to working from home and few disadvantages as well.
Let’s enumerate the pros and cons of WFH.
1) Increased Productivity vs Increased Risk of Burnout
The major advantage that was seen with WFH is an increase in productivity due to longer working hours with the elimination of the daily commute. On average, those who have transitioned from WFO to WFH are now working 2-3 hours more than before.
This means, they are able to finish more work because they have more hours to commit on their jobs.
With increased productivity, the main drawback is the increased risk of burnout. This is especially true for individuals who have been taking on a lot more work than they can handle.
In a survey conducted by Monster.com, 69 percent of WFH employees are experiencing symptoms of burnout, including physical and mental exhaustion, diminishing interest in work, loss of interest in their achievements, etc. These symptoms and more ultimately lead to decreased productivity.
2) No More Commuting vs Loss of Work-Life Balance Boundary
Because they are working from home, former office workers have expressed relief from the horrendous two to three-hour traffic that they have been enduring going to and from the office. Whether you are driving a car or taking public transport, the rush hour leaves you stressed and exhausted before you even reach the office. With the daily commute gone, you have more time both for work and for yourself/family.
Those who were originally WFO saw the daily commute as the boundary between their working and personal lives. With the commute now gone with WFH, work is perceived to be intruding more and more into their personal and family lives. This is especially true for workers who don’t follow specific WFH work hours and have allowed bosses and co-workers to still contact them during their off-hours.
3) Savings vs More At Home Costs
It is touted that there are more savings with WFH. Employers are happy that they don’t have to lease large office spaces for their employees. Those who have their own buildings are seeing a profit by renting out parts of their establishments to other businesses.
On the part of employees, they have seen savings on gasoline and car maintenance, the purchase of work clothes and getting dry cleaning services (especially for those who wear suits and ties), and expensive child care.
At the beginning of one’s WFH status, there may be hidden costs associated with the switch from WFO. This may include renovations to the home to make it WFH-friendly, such as outfitting a room or space as your work station and purchasing a work desk, ergonomic chair, and other furnishings. While some employers may provide their employees with a computer/laptop, monitor, smartphones, and the required software and apps, these usually go out of the employees’ pocket. You also need to pay for a good Internet subscription and a VPN (if your office doesn’t have one). As you use these electronic gadgets more, you can also expect to see a rise in your electricity bills.
It is advisable to check with your employer to see which WFH expenses are reimbursable.
4) Greater independence vs Loss of In Office Support
Many office workers complain about not being able to do their jobs properly because bosses and colleagues alike are always interfering and telling them how they should do their work.
WFH allows for greater independence and autonomy at work. You can do your work in the style that best suits you so that you get more projects done faster.
With greater independence, this means you need to have more self-discipline and motivation to keep on working for longer hours.
If you have been relying on the support of your bosses and co-workers in the office, you may not be able to get immediate advice when your work hits a snag because you need to contact them during their available times through email or chat.
5) Being with family vs Isolation
One concern that workers with families have when working in-office is the health and safety of their kids. With WFH, there are no more worries especially if you have kids or if you are taking care of a sick or elderly family member. Because you are in close proximity, you can readily attend to their needs.
It’s a fact that human beings are social animals. Whether you are alone at home or even if you are with family, you may experience feelings of isolation when you are on WFH status. You may feel cut off from co-workers in the office. Being with the same people day in, day out at home, even if they are family, can also make you feel lonely.
6) Distractions: Office vs Home
There are many potential distractions in the office which can disrupt work. These distractions include badgering bosses, competitive and unfriendly co-workers, and the never-ending office noises, such as the hum and rattle of office devices and ringing of phones.
When WFH, you are free from these distractions and you can concentrate better on your work
For workers with family, they have discovered that family members, pets, and even neighbors can prove to be even greater distractions than those in the office.
Consider setting fixed times at home when you can work in peace. Strictly tell your family not to disturb you while you are working.
7) Stress: Lesser or Greater?
People have reported being less stressed when WFH because they don’t have to deal with sub-optimal working environments, demanding bosses, and in-office politics and friction with co-workers. In addition, because of the flexible work schedules, there is also less stress in meeting deadlines with effective time management.
Other individuals have reported greater stress with WFH due to distractions from family members and household responsibilities. This stress is further aggravated by worries about income stability and job security while WFH as well as the impact of negative news, such as the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the state of the global economy and its potential effects on their employment.
8) Health: Better or Worse?
Because of flexible schedules, you can take better care of your health. Unlike in the office wherein you frequently go out for fast foods, you can cook healthier meals at home. With the elimination of the daily commute, you can also incorporate exercise and meditation.
WFH may promote a sedentary lifestyle especially in those who are already laidback even in the office. At home, they are more inclined to order takeout and exercise less because they are feeling more tired from working longer hours at home.
If you’re one of these people and not watchful of your health, this may lead to your becoming overweight and obese, which can lead to a number of chronic conditions, like heart disease.
9) Income: Higher or Lower?
While most employees have reported receiving the same salaries even while WFH, there are some who have been earning higher because they are accepting more work from other sources in the form of side jobs or home businesses.
Some employers have decided to adjust the salary levels depending upon the geographic area where their WFH employees are located. This means that people who live in areas with lower costs of living get lower salaries than usual compared to when they were working in the office.
10) Work Life Balance: Improved or Disrupted?
Many workers have reported having an improved work life balance with WFH. There is increased productivity working at home while being able to take care of their family as well as allowing them to pursue activities that they enjoy.
Others claim that WFH has tilted their work life balance more toward work. Because of the longer working hours, they are unable to separate between their work and their personal life and feel the need to work endlessly through each day.
As you can see, WFH has its advantages and disadvantages. In the long run, it is still the worker himself/herself who has to decide which working option is best for them. If you have been experiencing more of the advantages, such as increased productivity and better work-life balance, with WFH, then this is the most suitable working status for you. However, if you are experiencing more of the disadvantages, you may want to consider talking to your boss about a hybrid setup wherein you work on certain week days in the office and the remainder at home.