The pros and cons of working from home
Mark McCrindle, January 2017
Working from home is a key employment alternative for growing businesses offering teleworking solutions, emerging entrepreneurs establishing a customer base, and small business owners seeking to minimise administrative overheads. What are the key advantages and setbacks involved with working from home? For those seeking to take the plunge or weighing up the options, McCrindle Research analysed the lives of 250 ‘work-from-home’ workers, weighing up the pros and cons of the home office setting.
Flexibility and work-life balanceThe most significant advantage in working from home for respondents was having the flexibility to juggle other things, reported by almost half (45 per cent) of respondents. Another quarter of respondents felt that in working from home, they were able to create a work-life balance to enjoy life more. One in seven respondents (15 per cent) enjoyed being able to work undistracted from the interruptions present in an office-based working environment, and a further one in eight (12 per cent) felt that the most significant advantage in working from home was being able to take care of their children. Other reasons that people chose to work from home included decreased commuter stress, lower travel costs, being able to work in solitude, and being their own boss. For those who work from home, most love the flexibility and work-life balance that it allows. For 15 per cent, the biggest benefit was being able to work undistracted. Employers should note that while modern workplaces facilitate social interaction, project teams and meetings, the need to work solo and uninterrupted is keenly felt. [embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DDbArL33hhA[/embed]
Top 3 reasons why people work from homeWorking from home can facilitate enormous benefits; allowing more time with family, avoiding long commutes and offering better work-life balance, but is this always the best option? Social researcher Claire Madden shared her thoughts on The Today Show, discussing the benefits and sharing the downside of this growing trend. While teleworking might have some benefits of flexibility for the individual, it can unintentionally create an isolated wasteland back in the office. It can significantly impact team culture by removing the intangible ingredient of collaboration and spontaneous interactions where some of the greatest innovations are sparked, problems are solved, and teams are energised. With one in 12 people working from home, this growing trend is enabled by communication technologies facilitating far greater flexibility, connectivity and mobility. Our research found the top three reasons people work at home are:
- Flexibility – to juggle other things, including managing the kids
- Improved work-life balance – avoiding that 53 minute commute, which Australians do on average every day for work
- Working undistracted – our workplaces can be busy hubs of activity and home can provide a quieter place to think and work. However, it also includes household distractions, like that sudden motivation that overtakes you to put a load of washing on!
Workplace health and safety issuesWhilst a number of respondents (75 per cent) did not report encountering any workplace health and safety (WHS) issues in working in a home office environment, others were faced with unique concerns. The main worry respondents faced was with a lack of ergonomics in their home office set-up:
- “I generally don’t sit at a proper desk so, while not currently causing any problems, my posture may cause issues in the future.”
- “I don’t have proper desk and chair height, and I stay at the desk too long with bad posture.”
- “I am totally responsible for the health and safety standards and issues in my home, even when someone comes uninvited.”
- “I don’t take appropriate breaks and I lack sleep, working longer than I would in an office.”
- “I don’t have enough space to work properly.”
- “The electrics in the house are not always the best set-up because I don’t have an office, and the kids can get under the desk playing with cables.”