The great debate: Office v Hybrid v Remote
Rolling out of bed at 8:45am, to commute only as far as the desk on the other side of the room may be appealing for a day or two, but how often should we really be working from home?
Covid has hardly gone, but the world is moving on. With a war in the East, and rising prices everywhere; the pandemic is reaching our ears less and less through the news. Why then are so many of us still working in our PJs?
In 2019, 4.7% of individuals worked from home, already an increase on previous years. In fact working from home has been gradually on the rise for decades with an increase of 3.2% since 1981 when only 1.5% worked in their homes.
However, this jumped to a staggering 43.1% in April 2020 after Boris Johnson’s instruction that everyone “must stay at home” on 23rd March 2020 (Felstead & Reuschke, 2020).
There are numerous reasons that people may prefer working from home.
- Money saver – According to an article by The Motley Fool, an average Brit will save £126 a month or £1,500 a year on commuting when working from home (Bocco, 2021).
- Time saving – The average Brit spends almost five hours a week commuting to and from work (Lilly, 2022). Not only does travel take up a significant proportion of the day, but add to this the time spent getting ready to leave the house; only a third of the time spent in personal grooming is needed when people don’t plan on being out of the house all day (Reuter, 2022).
- Work from anywhere – Relocating to a tropical country may only be a realistic endeavour to very few people, but the ability to work entirely remotely can have a huge impact for multinational companies who are interested in hiring and collaborating with people from all over the globe.
- Productivity – A report by Harvard Business School in 2020 in which over 30,000 work emails were analysed, found that those involved in hybrid working conditions (partly at home, partly in the office) were more productive and managers were more impressed with their work than those working full-time in one environment, whether the office or working from home.
- Employment possibilities – When searching for a new job, more often than not we tend to find ourselves limited by geography. Remote working can allow people to work for companies whose offices are not in their region or even country.
- Fewer distractions – For most people, working from home will mean being around less people, and therefore they may find themselves less distracted by small talk and interruptions. Of course, for some individuals or at certain times, such as school holidays, working from home could be far more distracting than being in the office.
- Flexibility – Working from home often includes setting your own working hours or at least being able to move your lunch breaks to fit in with other appointments you may have.
Despite these benefits however, there are some disadvantages of WFH:
- The need for a home office and equipment – Many remote jobs require equipment and software that you may not have at home. Space can also be an issue, whereas in the office you are likely to have access to a desk and chair of you own, space may be limited in people’s houses and finding an appropriate environment away from distractions can be difficult. Working in your bedroom can have a negative effect on mentality and cause a lack of productivity.
- Difficulty separating work and home life – When working at home, it is often hard to stop the line between the working day and your leisure time from blurring. A consensus completed by the National Office for Statistics in 2021 showed that when working from home, on average individuals did 6 hours of unpaid overtime per week, compared with 3.6 hours for those that worked out of the house (ONS, 2021).
- Isolation and anxiety – Whilst many people thrive in a quiet and solitary environment, working at home can cause a rise in anxiety down to lack of social interaction. Roughly 2.6 million Brits reported feeling “chronically lonely” during lockdown (Lilly, 2022). Going back to work in the office involves seeing co-workers and being surrounded by the public on commutes, which may be taken for granted usually, but during lockdown the lack of personal interaction was felt by most people.
- Fresh air and exercise – For those who actively exercise on a daily basis, this may not make much of a difference, but for many people walking to work or to public transport and even moving around the office is as much exercise as they do during the week; and although it may not seem like a lot, not leaving the house can have negative effects on both peoples mental and physical state after a while.
So what’s the solution?
Many companies are bringing in ‘Working From Home’ policies and limiting the amount of days working out of the office per week. Others are letting their employees chose how and where they work. Whatever your company may be doing it is worth recognising the benefits and disadvantages of both, and considering which is best for you, and for managers, your employees.
Bocco, D. (2021). Working from home can save you over £1,500 a year – The Motley Fool UK. Retrieved 11 May 2022, from https://www.fool.co.uk/2021/12/06/working-from-home-can-save-you-over-1500-a-year/#:~:text=The%20average%20Brit%20spends%20%C2%A3,1%2C500%20a%20year%20in%20savings.
Reuter, D. (2022). MSN. Retrieved 11 May 2022, from https://www.msn.com/en-us/lifestyle/career/workers-spend-one-third-less-time-on-personal-grooming-when-they-clock-in-from-home-compared-with-when-they-commute-to-the-office/ar-AATfq48
Felstead, A and Reuschke, D (2020) ‘Homeworking in the UK: before and during the 2020 lockdown’, WISERD Report, Cardiff: Wales Institute of Social and Economic Research. Available for download from: https://wiserd.ac.uk/publications/homeworking-ukand-during-2020-lockdown
Lilly, C. (2022). Working from home (WFH) statistics | Finder UK. Retrieved 11 May 2022, from https://www.finder.com/uk/working-from-home-statistics#:~:text=The%20average%20daily%20commute%20time,a%20plus%20for%20employers%20too.
ONS, (2021). Homeworking hours, rewards and opportunities in the UK: 2011 to 2020 – Office for National Statistics. (2021). Retrieved 11 May 2022, from https://www.ons.gov.uk/employmentandlabourmarket/peopleinwork/labourproductivity/articles/homeworkinghoursrewardsandopportunitiesintheuk2011to2020/2021-04-19