Advantages and Disadvantages of Offering a Work-from-Home Option

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Increasingly over the past few years, employers have been offering a work-from-home option because it allows them to reduce the overhead costs of maintaining larger workplace spaces. Technology has made it possible for many professionals to do everything they once did on site from home. For many reasons, there has been staggering growth in remote work in the last five (44%), 10 (91%), and 12 (159%) years – and that was before the COVID-19 pandemic!

Now many employers in the industries ECI Software Solutions serves are encouraging or mandating employees to work from home. It’s likely that your employees have had some experience with this setup, but haven’t done it with regularity. The benefits to employees are fairly obvious, such as concentration and avoiding a commute, but what about the isolation from co-workers? As an employer, there are compelling arguments to be made for and against offering a work-from-home option.

Here, we take a balanced look at remote work so that you can decide if the arrangement is something you want to consider offering your employees during the short- and long-term:

The Pros

Productivity and Efficiency: The energy- and concentration-sapping commutes and in-office distractions aren’t a problem for the remote worker. Each of your telecommuters has complete control over the working environment, and can design their home offices to maximize their productivity. More productive workers are also likely to be more efficient, which means you can ask them to do more in less time.

Job Satisfaction: Consider these recent statistics from Flexjobs:

  • 90% of employees say more flexible work arrangements would increase morale
  • 80% of remote workers experience less stress
  • Remote workers are 57% more likely to be satisfied with their job
  • 65% of workers said they are more productive at home than in the office

Financial Compensation: Think on-site workers earn more than their remote working peers across industries? They really don’t, according to recent Flexjobs data:

  • Remote workers earn $4K per year more than non-telecommuters on average
  • Plus, they save more money—an estimated $4,000 per year

Even when employees would earn less for remote work, according to the State of Remote Work 2019 report by Owl Labs, 34% of workers would be willing to take a 5% cut; 24% would take a 10% cut; and 20% would take a cut larger than 10%.

Work-Life Balance: If your staff puts in 40-60 hours per week, and you require them to be accessible via digital devices when away from the work site, something has to give. Employees have to balance work with parenting, maintaining family relationships and friendships, and of exercising and eating right for long-term health. Remote workers have more free time and more ways to strike a satisfactory work-life balance.

The Cons

Self-discipline required: At home, there’s laundry to do, tv shows to watch, and plenty of other distractions to occupy your workers. Focus requires discipline. Workplaces are ideal for people who need a little structure and discipline imposed on them. Many employees don’t realize that need until they try working from home.

Social isolation: While technology allows for instant communication across a variety of platforms, some employees need to feel the physical presence of co-workers in order to be happy and productive. They need to participate in meetings and face-to-face collaborations; digital communications just won’t do. Consider the specific needs of your employees with regard to this potential drawback.

No separation of work from home: A benefit of having a workplace that your workers get to leave it. Telecommuters live where they work, so it can be hard for them to disengage from work at times to be with their families, just as the reverse scenario can be problematic.

If you are considering whether to offer a work-from-home arrangement to some of your employees, give these pros and cons serious consideration. Productivity, efficiency, and job satisfaction are considerable benefits to you and your telecommuting employees. Yet freedom doesn’t always mean contentment; what works in your employees’ personal lives doesn’t always hold true in their professional lives.

ECI Staff Contributors

About the Author

ECI Staff Contributors love to share their insights and expertise on a variety of topics including sales, marketing, cloud, ERP, and SMB development as well as on product specific education. With offices throughout the United States, Mexico, England, the Netherlands, Australia, and New Zealand, more than 40 employees contribute to blog on a regular basis.