Before jumping into something new, we often weigh the pros and cons. During the pandemic, many workers were forced to work from home and, unfortunately, didn’t get this luxury. But since then, the dust has settled, and many are considering making working from home (WFH) their primary way of working. If you are one of these workers, you’re likely in the process of evaluating the advantages and disadvantages of this work style and what it does for you.
It’s often helpful to hear from people with prior experience who have seen the benefits and challenges of working from home firsthand (outside of ourselves). To help, we reached out to the work-from-home, remote work, and digital nomad communities to get their perspectives on remote work and WFH. Plus, we included tips for combatting the most common challenges of working from home.
Pros and cons of working from home
- Pro: Remote workers feel less stressed
- Con: Working from home can be lonely
- Pro: No daily commute
- Con: Communication + collaboration can be a challenge
- Pro: Remote workers have flexibility in their schedules
- Con: It’s challenging to build a remote company culture
Pro: Remote workers feel less stressed
In 2023, remote workers reported being less stressed than their in-office and hybrid counterparts. This could be due to a number of factors, such as no commute time, less overall spending of money, more time to focus, etc. In fact, hybrid workers – who have the option to work both in-office and from home – say that working from home is best for tasks like working independently, focusing, thinking creatively, and balancing work and life.
That being said, some workers thrive in a typical office environment. If you’re new to WFH and struggling to focus, we have some productivity tips and music playlists to help you focus.
Con: Working from home can be lonely
When you work from home, you’re likely flying solo most of the time – this may be why 20% of managers say their top workplace concern is employee loneliness. Being alone can create feelings of isolation and loneliness and can often hurt your health and productivity. It’s important to build in time for social interaction, even if it isn’t in-person.
To combat these feelings, schedule a virtual coffee with a coworker or join a Slack community to socialize with other people who share similar interests as you. If you need even more inspiration, check out these tips to combat the work-from-home loneliness you might be feeling.
Pro: No daily commute
If you work in a city, you’ve likely experienced the hassle of commuting. Whether you’re taking public transportation or stuck in traffic, your mind might wander and think about all the other things you could be doing during your commute time. Studies have shown that commuting negatively impacts health and happiness – and in 2023, 33% of workers reported commuting 31-45 minutes (one way) every day. When you work from home, not only will you have more free time in your day, you’re likely to see an improvement in your well-being too.
Con: Communication + collaboration can be a challenge
Effective communication and collaboration can be hard to achieve when you and your colleagues are distributed across different locations. This means that the tools and strategies you use to communicate need to be thought out and intentional.
Determine which asynchronous communication tools you’ll use (e.g., Slack and email) and make sure you have a consistent schedule for face-to-face conversations via video conferencing. When everyone’s clear on the methods of collaboration, miscommunication will become less frequent.
Synchronous tools are also important. If you are working from home, you will likely have telecommuting calls with others in the office. In-office employees need to ensure they have the right hardware in place to have collaborative discussions. Consider tools like a 360-camera to capture everyone in the room, along with a dedicated whiteboard camera for brainstorming sessions.
Pro: Remote workers have flexibility in their schedules
Raise your hand if you have responsibilities and obligations outside of your day-to-day job. I’m sure most (if not all) of us have our hands up. Depending on your organization’s remote or hybrid work policy, you can schedule your day to accommodate aspects of your life outside of work.
Need to run to a doctor’s appointment in the morning? Go for it! Have to hop offline for an hour to pick up your child from school? No problem! Remote work gives you the flexibility to manage all aspects of your life, whether they’re directly related to your work or not.
Con: It’s challenging to build a remote company culture
If you have a remote team, there are certainly advantages and disadvantages of employees WFH. For one, company culture needs to be more intentional. The ways remote teams get to know one another and collaborate are different than they’d be if everyone worked together in the same office. Luckily, there are remote culture tools and resources that can be used when team members aren’t able to get together in-person. Remote leaders and managers need to remember that transparency is key for employees to have the information they need to work independently and feel engaged with their work.
With most of the working world experiencing remote work during the pandemic, it is no surprise that many want to WFH full-time. If employers are to take away anything from our 2023 State of Hybrid Work Report, it’s that flexibility reigns supreme. If companies offer their employees the flexibility to work from home or the office – or a combination of both! – workers will be happier and more willing to go the extra mile. That said, it’s important to set employees up for success when they work remotely.
If you’re trying to make the transition to remote work, check out our tips for asking your manager.