Five disadvantages of work-from-home environments

CHIEF OF STAFF FIVE: The COVID-19 pandemic has prompted many organisations to implement work-from-home schemes, both to satisfy social distancing regulations and to appease the nerves of their own staff.

While it had some clear business continuity benefits, the setup also raised questions about its overall impact on performance. Chief of Staff Asia explores five downsides of remote working setups for employers.

Lower productivity

No one really likes commuting to the office, but the brick-and-mortar workplace does offer a tried and tested environment for getting most things done efficiently and without unnecessary distractions. No barking dogs; no delivery people; no noisy neighbors! Employees can focus on accomplishing tasks in the office because, after all, it's a place built precisely for that purpose.

Reduced engagement

With their colleagues not physically around, remote employees can often become less engaged toward what they work on and their organisations. It's not easy to build professional relationships with co-workers when not meeting them regularly in the office and this can also lead to employees feeling disconnected from their organisation's key purpose.

Falling morale

Connected to reduced engagement is the potential impact on overall staff morale. With staff out of the office, both the quality and amount of communication is necessarily reduced. Of course, people can still communicate via teleconferencing, but this does not fully replicate the conversations that take place when colleagues are easily approached on any relevant topic.

Increased costs

Remote settings also led to some organisations paying for their workers' home office costs, including electricity and internet. These costs were in addition to their office rental, maintenance and utility costs that companies still had to handle throughout the pandemic, with or without warm bodies in the office. There's also the hidden cost of lower productivity related to instances of poor internet connection at employees' homes.

Security concerns

Work-from-home setups can also result in security concerns. In the office, employees have to lock their computers before leaving their workstations. That's not really the case when they work from home, and lines between work and personal devices and activity become naturally blurred.

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