challenges of working from home

Challenges of Working From Home

***Updated on 22 February, 2021

Are there disadvantages to working from home?

Workplaces have certainly changed in 2020. In our previous blog posts, we discuss recent modifications to the workplace environment, with many teams now finding themselves operating remotely due to COVID 19 lockdowns and social distancing rules. While there are many advantages to remote working, there are also potential downsides that affect employees productivity. So what is the other side of the story?

A recent survey found that 79% of C-suite executives expected most of their staff to return to the office after the pandemic is over. Some employees are even looking forward to returning, at least part of the time. It turns out there are some common challenges associated with working from home, for both leaders and their teams.

Here are six potential downsides and challenges of working from home, and why companies and employees may be reluctant to make it a permanent arrangement.

1. Onboarding challenges

Onboarding is more than just getting a staff pass into the office – more importantly, it’s about building relationships with the team. You can learn a lot from just being in meetings with people, watching how they interact and problem-solve together. It’s much harder to build relationships remotely when you can’t bump into colleagues in the kitchen or spend time bonding with the team. 

Those casual conversations by the coffee machine do make a difference in team bonding and boost productivity. Impromptu errand runs, and hallway chats can also bring people together, and seed new ideas and insights.

challenges of working from home

2. Culture issues

A recent Dexus survey found that 72% of business leaders surveyed believed that building company culture was most effective in an office environment. Indeed, without the comradery of spending time with your colleagues face-to-face, it can be challenging to build a strong culture, as well as employee engagement. Consistent and regular communication becomes even more critical.

3. Blurred boundaries

At PEP, we have heard from many employees that they find it difficult to separate their work and home lives when working remotely. When your laptop lives on the dining table, it’s tempting to check emails at all times of the day. If managers or colleagues email outside of office hours, you may feel compelled to reply straight away. COVID 19 may amplify the pressure to be available all the time, as workers may feel the need to maintain visibility with leaders.

Research suggests that a healthy boundary between our professional and personal lives is essential for our mental health. Blurred lines between home and work can significantly increase stress, and make it harder for people to switch off which can ultimately result in decreased productivity at work.

We have developed a Remote Program to help leaders and teams manage these challenges and work more efficiently and effectively.

4. Distractions, distractions

Some employees find that working remotely reduces common interruptions and distractions, allowing them to focus on their work. But others face plenty of disruption at home, from young children to unreliable internet.

5. Zoom fatigue

Zoom fatigue has been well documented, it takes more energy to focus on a virtual meeting and stare at a screen all day. We can face burnout if we don’t actively take breaks away from the desk. In the office, even the short walks between meeting rooms had a side benefit of giving us mental breaks. Working remotely can mean more meetings than ever, which means less downtime. Some workers say that they even miss the commute to and from work because it gives them downtime to daydream.

challenges of working from home

6. Micromanagers

Unfortunately, some workers have managers who don’t trust them to do their jobs. For managers prone to micromanagement, there can be a temptation to over-manage if they can’t see their employees. Disturbingly, there was an increase in the sales of spyware to keep tabs on remote workers. For some employees, working remotely can mean more stress from feeling the pressure of being constantly watched.

Despite the potential downfalls and various challenges of working from home that employees face, remote work in some shape or form will likely be a part of our working lives for the foreseeable future. It’s a great time to invest in your employees and support them to become more productive, regardless of where they work.

PEP has more than 30 years of experience working with leaders and teams to increase business productivity.

Learn how PEP can help managers and teams build good productivity habits and avoid the downsides of working from home.

By Simon Nicholls

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