The Pros & Cons of Working from Home: Using 9 Months of Data & Feedback
As of this article’s publication date, it’s been nine months since the pandemic forced offices to close.
What many saw as a two-or-three-week shake-up has become an indefinite WFH model.
We think it’s important to make the distinction between remote and working from home. Right now, we are working from home. After all, what most technology companies are experiencing isn’t a remote work model. Coffee shops, planned summits, traveling while working–those are essential aspects of remote work culture, all of which have been taken away.
If you’re strategizing around what to do in 2021, then it’s good to know the pros and cons of working from home.
As a mid-size technology company with 30+ software engineers, we’ve collected our team’s thoughts and listed them here for others to consider.
Pros of Working from Home
- Reduced real estate expenses: office space runs between $4,000-14,000 per year per employee, according to MarketWatch
- Recruit workers from across the US: Expanding your candidates from other states could help you formulate a better team.
- Many employees consider it a benefit/perk: While all or nothing opinions are the loudest, Business Insider reported in May that 54% of workers say they want to work from home at least some of the time.
- Reduced carbon footprint: Buffer recently calculated their carbon contributions for WFH and in office, and WFH was more environmentally-friendly.
Cons of Working from Home
- Goodwill between colleagues takes longer to build: This is especially true when onboarding new team members. Team members that knew each before the pandemic likely have stronger relationships.
- Employee isolation may lead to dissatisfaction: Being stuck at home as an extrovert can be painful.
- Less visibility into day to day work: 41% of managers are skeptical about their team staying motivated for the long haul because it’s difficult to monitor employees.
- Network/device security concerns: Setting up secure networks for each of your employees is challenging and time-consuming. Many don’t get it right.
Pro or Con? You Decide
- Productivity: Many workers report uninterrupted work and more focus. However, some say there are too many distractions.
- Collaboration: Many teams have leveraged technology to keep up their collaborative work, but others say that being in the same room promotes better collaboration.
- Mood: For many workers, removing extra social interaction has made them happier, for others, they’ve felt lonelier.
How to Make The Remote Vs. Office Decision?
According to Mckinsey, remote employees see more positive effects on their daily work and have a stronger sense of well-being than those in non-remote jobs with little flexibility.
However, every company and workforce is different, and you may have valid reasons to bring people back into the office. Whichever way you’re leaning, we suggest gathering employee feedback. Send out anonymous surveys asking questions like these:
- How does your team feel about safety at the office?
- How do they feel about wearing masks?
- When do they wish to return to the office? What initiatives would make them feel safer?
- How many employees wish to remain remote for the foreseeable future?
- Does your team feel more or less productive while working from home?
- Does your team feel like their mental health is in a stable place while working from home?
For 2021, the right mix might include opting-in to office days, especially if individuals are struggling.
In October 2020, we survey 100 tech company workers about their company’s plans to go back to the office. Here were their responses.
What Some Technology Companies Are Doing
To give you a better frame of reference, here is what some major companies are doing:
- Microsoft: Recently announced its permanent embraced of a work from home policy. The software giant said they wanted to, “offer as much flexibility as possible to support individual workstyles.”
- Stripe: Stripe will give its employees $20,000 if they relocate from “expensive” cities where it has offices (San Francisco, Seattle and New York), but workers will have to take a 10% pay cut.
- Salesforce: They are extending their WFH policy to July 31, 2021. Each employee also gets $250 to purchase office supplies for their homes. Parents will have the option to take six extra weeks of paid time off.
- Zillow: The online real estate giant has extended its WFH policy “indefinitely” for the majority of its employees. Zillow says that it will offer about 90% of its staff “the flexibility to work from home as an ongoing option, at least part-time.”
- Google: Employees allowed to work from home until at least next July. The decision affects most of the company’s 200,000 employees and contract workers.
- Slack: Because Slack’s core product is all about remote communication, Slack corporate decided to let their workers be remote forever.
- AirBnB: Extended its employee work from option environment until August 2021, the latest of any major tech company.
- REI: is going fully remote and selling its newly built headquarters.
What Devetry Did
As an SMB, we offer our office space to team members who wish to come in. We’ve done this by creating a weekly sign-up sheet via Google Sheets.
A maximum of five team members can reserve a socially distanced desk and use it Monday-Friday.