Are flexible working arrangements the only benefits of working from home? Who would have thought how much the world would change in 2020 with the arrival of a world-wide pandemic. Working environments, as we know it, have changed dramatically; some would say for the better. There is more flexibility now than ever before and for working families, this has to be a good thing. However, as with all things, there are challenges of working from home as well as the benefits.
Flexible Working Arrangements
The most notably beneficial reason for working from home must be the flexible working arrangements. Your commute is not only short, it’s cheap: no high petrol costs, which are now so incredibly high. There are pockets of time now on either side of the day which may be invaluable, especially to the working family or those with other commitments, such as caring for children or older members of the family.
Not only do you have the flexibility of extra time, you can also determine the flexibility of your working conditions: light, temperature and background noise, to name a few. You don’t have to compromise with the dodgy radio station that spoils your concentration or work in an overly warm environment because someone else feels the cold. You’re always home for the online shopping delivery and around to keep your ‘lockdown’ dog company.
Benefits of Working From Home
One of the major benefits of working from home must be from a productivity perspective. Virtual workers can get more work done, as meetings become more effective – less chatting before and after. There are fewer distractions from colleagues and people aren’t as tempted to take sick days as a remote worker: you’re less likely to take a day off for a mild illness. The consequence of that is taking less time off means it’s easier to stay on top of your workload and deliver your work on time.
Challenges of Working From Home
Isolation has to be one of the biggest challenges of working from home. There are fewer ways to connect and engage with colleagues: a Zoom meeting serves a purpose but not necessarily as beneficial as human interaction over the water cooler.
Working from home can blur the lines between work and home. It can be difficult to switch off and finish work at 5pm. It is tempting to finish a task, rather than leave it to finish in business hours. For some, it may be tempting to get distracted with household chores or visitors.
Hybrid Working From Home
Hybrid working from home and the office is a good compromise for many with a work-life balance. It supports flexible working through reducing commuting time, helping scheduling and wellbeing activities and hobbies. Yet, there is also the opportunity to interact with coworkers and strengthen connections within the workplace. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to hybrid work, but it does have many advantages.
The Future of Working From Home as The Uk Faces an Energy Crisis
Some employers have realised that remote working is cost efficient and have made the situation permanent. But, just when we think we have come to a situation where we have got used to our working environment, things change again. Working from home may be cost effective for petrol costs, however, will rising energy bills this winter encourage thousands to go back into the office? Currently, employees can claim £6 per week tax relief from HMRC, which includes help for utility costs while working from home, but even with this help, many remote workers may still be better off going into the office.
Additionally, cold weather and gas shortages could force rationing of electricity to some businesses or even households. How would this affect working from home?
Can my Employer Force me to Work From Home?
Any change to long-term home-working requires proper consultation. For most employees, this will involve a change to a contract term of work location. Any changes should be by agreement between both employer and employee. Your employer can’t force you to work from home unless your employment contract says so. To force someone to work from home could be considered a violation of an employee’s right to privacy. If you require any legal advice on flexible working arrangements, it may be prudent to get in touch with employment lawyers in London to get the information you need.
Whatever the future of the working environment is post Covid, the landscape has already changed forever. There is a new freedom and choice that hasn’t been there previously and more than ever, the choice is in your hands.