Why is Work From Home better?

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Written by: pTranslate Contributors

A GLIMPSE OF CULTURE | CORPORATE CULTURE

“More and more workers are refusing to return to their office in the post-pandemic period. Here’s why.”

The Covid-19 pandemic has changed our lives in unimaginable ways.

To white-collar workers who used to spend their entire day sitting in a cubicle, working from home is one of the biggest changes that Covid-19 brought to them. It was the most positive impact of COVID-19, you can say. According to a new survey conducted by global staffing firm Robert Half, 1 in 3 workers is saying that they would rather quit than go back to the office, full time.

To be specific, nearly half of the respondents said that they want a hybrid work environment. They can spend half the time in the office and half the time somewhere else. They find that this constant switch of locations gives them higher productivity and better work-life balance. In other words, they want to have freedom from the enslavement of the cubicles. Although they do want to be able to flexibly choose their work location, they’re still afraid of 100% WFH. According to statistics from the same survey, professionals are afraid that they may have decreased productivity if they work from home 100%. They also worry that relationships with coworkers might suffer due to a lack of interaction.

Some people have been calling this shift “The Great Resignation”. Although it sounds radical, that is exactly what’s happening in the US. This trend has been spreading to the UK, and soon, to Australia. These are all regions where working in an office has almost become a tradition. The COVID-19’s impact brought a change to the way we look at work and jobs in general. There is something that people find dissatisfied in their daily work, but they don’t know what it is. When WFH becomes mandatory, those problems unveil themselves. Suddenly, we realize that we don’t need to go to the office to work. It was a refreshing perspective to take, for both the employers and employees. After COVID-19, we can all expect to see a brand new approach to the concept of work-life balance.

work from home covid-19

When working from home, they don't have to worry about commuting

Commuting is usually the most time-consuming, and least productive part of working in an office. It is a reality that not many people can afford to find a place to live in the city center. They usually have to live in the suburb, where rent is cheaper. This results in hours and hours of commuting.

Having to drive for hours every day, five days a week, from home to work and from work back home is soul-crushing and unproductive. People can’t do anything while traveling because they have to focus on the road.

Work from home changed all of that.

Instead of having to waste hours and hours every day, they can use the spare time that WFH gave them to do something more productive.

It doesn’t take a lot of skill to calculate the amount of time saved by WFH. If you commute for 2 hours every day, 5 days a week, you spend 10 hours a week, 40 hours a month, and 480 hours a year to commute. When working from home, you save about 20 days of your life every year. That quick and simple calculation puts into perspective how much time you have been spending on mindless travel. That 20 days could have been instead spent on something more productive, such as self-improvement or home care. From a global perspective, reduced commuting means less emission, less pollution, which is better for the environment as a whole.

Imagine what you can do with 2 extra hours every day. You can spend those time to better take care of your laundry or your household chores instead of being bothered with work. Personal care will be more important when working from home. This balanced lifestyle brought about by COVID-19 is simply too great to ignore. It makes sense why people are asking for more time at home when they find that WFH is essentially as productive as working in the office.

The great thing is, many offices have shown flexibility with this new change. Some went from a zero-tolerance policy of WFH to full-on WFH. When the employees realize the magic of WFH, they will never want to go back to the old ways of things. However, there still needs to be some discussion. Some companies allow the employees to choose whether they want to work from home or in the office, and the results have been similar to the survey above. Employees are happier with a hybrid work environment, where they can choose they finish their work in their bedroom and discuss complex projects with coworkers in the office. After all, WFH also disconnects workers from their coworkers, and it is not healthy for their mental state and for the workflow.

When working from home, they have more work done

Common sense will tell us that working from home is not productive. It is indeed reasonable to think so. There are tons of distractions within the reach of our hands. How can we possibly get our job done if we work in that comfort? Before COVID-19, many employers also have that mentality. They believe that the office provides a professional setting to kickstart someone into working mode and get their jobs done. In a place where we are supposed to sleep and rest, working is just not appropriate. However, statistics say otherwise.

According to a study by Stanford of more than 16,000 people, working from home increased their productivity by 13%. This increase in productivity was mainly due to a more comfortable and quieter environment. This increased productivity, however, is usually higher in jobs that require deep concentration, or jobs that can be done alone. There are fewer distractions from other employees, managers, and customers at home. Employees can just perform those tasks in solitude. Solitude is the best environment for them.

However, with jobs that require social communication and interaction, WFH is a hindrance. This is another proof that a hybrid work environment is the answer we all need now. Employees can finish tasks that are “social” in the office and take individual tasks home to finish.

Another reason for the increased productivity is the ability to set their own schedule. This requires a bit of discipline, but if done right, productivity will increase. Employees can work through their lunch, or work beyond their 9–5 frame. They can work earlier, or later, or any time in the day. There’s no limit! If they finish work early, they can rest early. That is a great way to unwind and recharge for the next day. When working in an office, they don’t have that much flexibility, which turns out to be counterproductive. Many workers reported that they usually spend their time doing mindless work such as browsing through social media and “wanting to go home” when they finish their tasks at work. When working from home, they can do whatever they want with that spare time. Overall, it’s better for everyone.

Employers' view on WFH

What do employers think about working from home?

Indeed, many have shifted their beliefs from anti-WFH to pro-WFH, when they realize the immense benefits of it. In the future, we can expect to see work from home becoming an employee benefit. Some of the employers can expect to see a lower need for office space, hence lower costs, as well as fewer medical claims. The best thing is that employees are happier, while the employers don’t have to pay any extra penny for it.

However, many offices are in a lease, which may decrease employers’ motivation to promote WFH. In the future, we can see decreased demand for office space once the WFH trend is finally in place.

One of the things employers need to keep their eyes on is their employees’ productivity. Although productivity is reported to be higher, some employees may perform badly. These employees find work from home isolating and lonely. For others, work from home means a lot of positive “Me” time, but for them, work from home means being disconnected from others. They crave the social aspect of office work, and WFH takes that away.

As managers, it is necessary to monitor the needs of your employees and provide them with a suitable working environment to maximize productivity.

Similarly, some employees also experience burnt-out due to not having a boundary between work and rest. Working from home blurs the line between personal space and professional space, and that is not healthy at all. Over-productive is just as bad as underproductive. If there is not a clear workload and boundary, the results may not be as good as expected.

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