Not since LOL (laughing out loud) has an acronym become as popular as WFH (working from home). While usage of LOL has reduced significantly over the years, WFH or remote working is predicted to remain popular for some time to come. Some companies, like Twitter, are predicting it will remain popular forever.
Whether WFH becomes the dominant form of working in currently unclear. What is clear is that in the near term at least, WFH is going to be a part of many of our lives. This article looks at 5 key upsides and 5 key downsides of WFH. And then gives you 10 commandments for employers and employees to follow to make WFH work.
👍 #1: Lower travel time
In cities, a sub-1-hour daily commute is a luxury. WFH slashes travel time. And gives employees more time to spend with their families or themselves. There is time for a hobby and for physical exercise. And that’s much needed. For instance, as much as 28% of the Indian urban population has diabetes. More the physical exercise, less the lifestyle diseases.
👍 #2: Shift from tasks to outcomes
With WFH, it’s difficult to monitor when an employee is working or not. Yet, outcomes can be measured. That’s great news for efficient workers. They’re often forced to spend a fixed number of working hours irrespective of whether there’s work or not.
👍 #3: More women working
Amongst the biggest beneficiaries of WFH are women. They often stop working due to domestic responsibilities. With WFH, they’ll have an opportunity to find a balance which suits them.
👍 #4: Lower rental costs
For smaller businesses, rental costs form a significant part of their expenses. With WFH, rental costs reduce. Other office overheads also reduce significantly.
👍 #5: Travel savings
With more WFH, air travel and overnight business stays reduce. You can always do a video call. That’s a significant saving. For some companies, travel savings will be far greater than rental savings. With less travel for work, there will be less congestion and less pollution. Besides the costs, time savings will also be significant. A salesperson, for instance, can do 4 meetings in a day instead of 1.
And the 5 downsides….
👎#1: No big innovation
Cross-disciplinary teams are often behind the best products. Big innovation suffers with linear development. Where each department functions in a silo. Take the iPhone or Paypal or countless other products. They’ve been built by teams who brought varied experience and skillsets to the table. And the teams are in physical proximity. Big ground-breaking innovation is difficult to do remotely. It’s little wonder that Apple, Tesla and Microsoft don’t sound so enthusiastic about WFH.
👎 #2: Where do I sit?
Homes in large cities are small. And sitting at the dining table or in your bed isn’t very conducive to working. Getting an ergonomic chair to sit on in a temperature-controlled environment is difficult. And there’s much more noise.
👎 #3: Bad network connectivity
All remote work requires network connectivity to at least support video calling. Trouble is that our mobile broadband speeds are often not that great. Fiber broadband speeds are better but are often difficult to get and can be costly in some areas. And cable-cut driven downtime is common.
👎 #4: Lack of human connect
Even small interactions with coworkers make a difference to our day. It could be a small chat before or after a meeting. Or a shared coffee or gossip sharing session near the water cooler. All make a small and mostly positive difference to our day.
👎 #5: Never-ending workdays
It’s difficult to know when work has started and when it finishes if you’re working on your dining table. Work merges into home time and home time into work. Its one big mishmash. Can leave you in a daze.
So, those are the upsides and downsides. More to add? Comment below.
Now, lets look at the remote working commandments. The 10 commandments for employers and employees for WFH or remote working.
|1||Employer: Do not use WFH solely as a cost-saving measure. Instead, strive to offer employees flexible working arrangements. where there is a balance between remote working and an office environment.|
|2||Employer: Define outcomes expected from employees clearly. Do not micromanage WFH employees. (actually, don’t micromanage any employee!)|
|3||Employer: Understand that WFH doesn’t mean an employee is available to work at all times. That includes not scheduling webinars for 8 pm on a Saturday.|
|4||Employer: Do not use video calls as the only mode of communication. Regular phone calls still work. And don’t forget email and Slack.|
|5||Employer: When finances permit, support making an employee’s workspace at home more amenable to working.|
|6||Employee: You will dress up to go to work even if you are working from home. (only concession allowed are shoes!)|
|7||Employee: You will set up a desk exclusively for working. You will not sit at this desk at non-work times.|
|8||Employee: You will strive to start and end work at a fixed time. You will stay organized and put all your tasks into a calendar. You will have at least one call with a work colleague every day.|
|9||Employee: You shall stay away from the kitchen.|
|10||Employee: You realize that you are only working from home. You will leave the house and interact with other people daily.|
Too much of anything is bad. As Satya Nadella said we shouldn’t move from one dogma to another. From the dogma of 100% work from office to 100% WFH. It needs to be a balance between both. Employees need to be offered that flexibility. It’s going to be something which differentiates great employers from good employers. To end on a lighter note, if you’re really missing office, head to this website. You can play all the office noises you’re missing so much.
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