Why Working From Home Doesn’t Work for Many Employees

Ever dream of working from home? Possibly answering emails and making phone calls from your comfy couch, with only the demands of getting up for a coffee refill and taking care of the dog? You’re not alone. Working from home seems like an ideal solution to the stresses of commuting, long hours on the job, and juggling work life with personal life. But what you might not know is that there are many more factors involved in successfully telecommuting than just setting up your laptop at home.

Why Working From Home Doesn’t Work for Many Employees

woman browsing on the internet

There are many reasons for this. For one, employees tend to become stagnant and unmotivated when they’re at work from home. They may also get bored and not be engaged enough in their work day. They may binge on unhealthy snacks or spend more time on non-work-related websites. All of these can lead to a decrease in productivity and quality of work produced. Employees who try to balance their work and personal lives outside the office will often find themselves falling behind and finding it difficult to get back on track with their projects because of the lack of focus they have while working from home.

Employers should take note of problems with working from home systems before implementing them. Research shows that while some employees are happy with this arrangement, others are unsatisfied with the lack of communication and opportunity for advancement.

As the end of the COVID-19 pandemic draws closer, it’s time to follow the science on working from home. A new study in JAMA Network Open found a correlation in workers who have remote access to their employer and an increased level of efficiency. This can be explained by potential disruptions, which have been linked to lower frequencies of engaging with the workplace and feeling ownership over company resources.

For many jobs, working from home simply doesn’t work. Don’t confuse a temporary aberration with a new normal. With the advent of AI and robotic automation, many high skill level and high-value jobs can be completed remotely.

People shouldn’t forget that working from home can be a healthy choice. However, the pandemic is not going to cause a total end to office life as we know it. Most people aren’t going to want to give up the freedom and flexibility that comes with working from home that most jobs provide long-term. A hybrid structure acknowledges that, while it isn’t something most people would want for long-term work, they do enjoy having the option of working from home for certain

People are also relying on remote work due to the problem of maintaining a culture when employees are working from all over the world if they work form home. To solve this problem, Professor Tom Eisenmann of Harvard Business School told me in March that since remote work is going to be increasing in part of our lives, more solutions will need to be found to maintain a culture with nobody brought face-to-face with each other.

Despite an old idea, working from home only became mainstream in the 2000s alongside a statistic: 70% of Americans were dissatisfied with their jobs and wanted to work from their homes. Today, the method still used today to improve production and positions- 65% consider remote working.

The work-from-home workforce is only expected to increase. Fifty years after Carr wrote “The New Office,” 20% or more of workers did all or most of their work from home, according to a Pew Research analysis. The figure jumped to over 70% during the pandemic, indicating that remote work is a natural ally in preventing illness and attracting talent.

Many employees do not experience the same office productivity levels when working remotely. This is because, for example, certain jobs require remote coworkers to constantly correspond through an online chat tool, which can lead to distraction and unproductiveness.

Workers such as those mentioned in the article are in the minority for working from home. Citing their case is shortsighted and we should be cautious about applying drastic changes to our economies.

For their needs, working from home does not work. Individuals in virtual teams reported feeling more like a “worker,” and less like a member of a family. One respondent said of employers: “They don’t see how early you show up in front of your computer…They don’t see how hard I’m working.”

woman placing sticky notes on wall

As the pressure to find time to work motivates employers and employees to work from home, it can be isolating and affect teamwork. After doing tests in which participants worked both remotely (from home) and in the capitol building in Boston, we found that remote work often harms team flow. Team members stated it’s easy for people to zone out on a call with Zoom when they work remotely. It is also more difficult for teammates working remotely to share and discuss ideas and solutions

Working from home doesn’t work for many, because there are no digital technologies that can reliably create ‘flow’ remotely. This shouldn’t be happening, since it is now possible for managers and employees to work remotely. Restrictions may have been put in place due to the lack of technology so far, but now that it is becoming more common, restrictions are being removed.

According to Lucidspark, 75% of 1,000 respondents felt collaboration suffered most when working remotely. The poll found that communication was the second most difficult aspect for this type of work environment.

Many people are choosing to go freelance because they are looking for increased creative expression. Unfortunately, this same isolation means that these professionals can’t take advantage of one key benefit of working at a company — the opportunity to collaborate with other employees in brainstorming or in any other creative process.

Some employers need to tackle the challenges presented by working from home. Sure, it may take longer for this transition, which could be seen as a vulnerability. However, after research it’s clear that there are ways to improve the work-life balance without forcing employees back to an office setting.

We need to carve out new paths which will allow teams that thrive on collaboration to meet someplace. A new type of path, where employees are required to be at someplace every week; it’s different than the old path of working anywhere.

By combining flexible hours with time slots for compulsory office attendance, we can prevent the rise of a two-tier model. It would also let those who prefer to work from home get ahead.

Why do people dislike working from home? One problem is lack of a commute. Additionally, many workers don’t need to travel during off-peak hours because they can work from the office during busy traffic times — as long as the worker is present for a portion of their work day.

Conclusion

woman sitting on floor and leaning on couch using laptop

Working from home is becoming more popular, but it can’t work for everyone. It works best for people who work independently. If you are unable to manage your time well, or if you need access to other employees or clients outside of your home office, then it’s not the right decision for you.

But the evidence is clear that, for the majority of workers in most industries, working from home doesn’t work.

Yet we can still take the lessons we have learned about what today’s — and tomorrow’s — employees want, and make that part of the new normal in offices post-pandemic.

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