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As the world begins to return to normal after nearly two years of lockdown, many businesses are faced with the choice of having staff return to the office and factory floor or to continue from working from home, either on a full time or flexible basis.

Both options have their pros and cons and some will not be possible for all businesses, depending on the industry they are in.

Below we try to break down some of the pros and cons, for both the employer and employee, that may help you decide the operating model you should use going forward:

Employer – pros

  • If you don’t have to provide work space for a team of employees you can make big savings on expenses like rent, water, electricity, gas, etc and these are all savings that go directly onto your bottom line profits.
  • No commuting for employees means that they will be more likely to stay working that little bit longer to get that task finished as they don’t have the return journey ahead of them and won’t be starting their home life any later than usual.
  • This applies to employees as well, but no commute in means a lower carbon footprint for everyone
  • Allowing people to work from home will attract people that would have otherwise been put off by the travel or being far away from the office.  This could open you up to potential new talent all around the country, if not the world, that you would not have previously had.
  • Employees will be more likely to work from home when they are feeling unwell if they don’t have to commute in and can work effectively in their pyjamas or under the duvet.  Also, they won’t be bringing their sickness into the office and passing it around everyone and disrupting productivity.

Employer – cons

  • Some customers still like face to face contact, and the importance of that will vary from industry to industry.  If you don’t have any one physically in the office that could put off some potential new customers.
  • You will have to be able trust your team to be working effectively from home. If you see a decline in output or standards compared to when people are in the office then it would not be wise to continue down that path.
  • Technology can link us in ways like never before, but what happens when it goes wrong?  Over reliance on technology can really impact your business should it stop working for any length of time.
  • If your employees have no interaction with one another they could suffer from isolation or loneliness, and if they are the kind of person who is badly affected by that they may be looking for roles elsewhere.
  • We almost take internet access as a given nowadays but there are still many areas, particularly outside the bigger cities and town, that still do not have good coverage, so you having employees working from home may not be practically possible without business down time.

Employee – pros

  • No commuting – saves the costs of running a car and maintaining it, there’s no waiting in traffic jams or on station platforms, so there is more money in your pocket and less stress on the commute.
  • They will have access to their own kitchen for food and snacks which can have big savings if they were popping out to the local coffee shop several times a week.
  • You will likely see a decrease in your stress levels, both from not having the commute but also by avoiding the conflict of working with people you do not necessarily like and the office politics.
  • Increased flexibility – you can pop around the corner to have that fifteen minute dentist appointment or waiting in for your washing machine delivery without having to take a whole day off.

Employee – cons

  • You are more likely to be distracted at home if you are putting loads of washing on, have the TV on in the background or the kids are coming in and out.  Having said that, many workplaces are busy and noisy so being at home may have the opposite effect.
  • There is a temptation to overwork if you do not have the regular rhythm of a day in the office – morning coffee, lunch break, everyone packing up at home time, etc
  • If you are working from home then your household bills will go up directly as well.  Some employers may help meet some of the costs for this, but it’s unlikely if they feel that you are already making savings by not paying to commute into the workplace.
  • Not everyone has the room in their homes to have a comfortable working space set up, so that may mean constantly having to move things around, or accepting work as part of your home on a permanent basis.
  • Rightly or wrongly, not being in the office will affect your career prospects.  You may be just as good as a co-worker applying for a promotion, but if they are in the office being seen and building interpersonal connections and repartee with others then you will be at a disadvantage.
  • For many people, the commute to work is the only exercise they have – walking to the bus stop, up and down the steps to the Tube, walking through the train to find a seat.  If you are sat at home all day it is important to ensure that you are still moving around and taking exercise in your life.
  • Less human interaction is not good for anyone.  Yes, there are more ways than ever for us to communicate online and digitally, but there is no substitute for face to face contact, especially if you are being trained in a new career or role.

If you have any questions about any of the above points and whether or not they could work for your business please get in touch.