The disadvantages to working from home

Joy Nwagiriga

As covid-19 sends most of the world into lockdown, many employees are forced to work from home (WFH). Business and office closures across the nation are resulting in the majority of the corporate workforce telecommuting. However many problems can arise when working at home.

According to the 2017 study by Regus, 48 percent reported that children or family demanding attention was the biggest issue when working at home. It can be particularly confusing for children, as your physical presence no longer means access. They may not understand that you have to remain detached and focused on work.

Difficulty concentrating was reported by 45 percent of those surveyed. Concentration killers can include anything from social media, noise from family or neighbour activities to just observing the view from your office window. Household noises such as washing machines, dishwashers, air conditioners and others were reported as a problem by 29 percent of those working from home.

Children, family, and pets disturbing work telephone calls were reported by 40 percent of respondents. There is also a tendency to do household work during ‘lunch breaks’. A study by Eurofound and the International Labour Office found, 45 percent of teleworkers carry out small errands in between work activities, gear working hours to family needs or perform domestic chores when having a break.

Many people also lack the self-discipline required to work from home. There is no supervisor to look over your shoulder and tell you what to do. You have to motivate and organise yourself and that can prove especially challenging for individuals that are hardwired to office life.

Less face time with managers and colleagues can be a communication roadblock. When telecommuting the benefits of brainstorming and innovation through on-site collaboration diminish. It may also be harder to organise meetings when coworkers are working on different schedules.

Some workers may not have an office at home or even a suitable working space. In a Swedish survey conducted by TNS Sifo, 1,027 participants were asked if they encountered any obstacles when working away from the office. The results show that many employees had experienced technical difficulties that hindered their work. If your work requires specialised equipment, it may be difficult to replicate this environment at home. 

WFH may be solitary confinement in disguise. Little or no human interaction after a period of time can create a sense of isolation. Many worker don’t feel connected to their co-workers, which could hurt the company’s culture. There is no substitute to face-to-face communication.

Sometimes it may be difficult to disconnect and separate ones work and personal life. There is also a tendency to lengthen working hours. The longer hours and the mix of duties at the same time, may result in the blurring of work-life boundaries and increased work-family conflict. Eurofound reported an increase in work intensification, which can lead to high levels of stress with negative consequences for workers’ health and well-being. The nature of WFH create limitless working hours.

Joy Nwagiriga

Image Credit: Joy Nwagiriga