The COVID-19 crisis has forced businesses to close their offices and have their employees work from home. The situation used to be challenging for both the employer’s and employee’s ends. But, technology has made working remotely more convenient.
It’s been more than a year since remote-working day one, and vaccination has been going well across the country. Now, business owners face the inevitable question of what the future will look like for their organization.
So, should your startup operate from home or return to the office? Let’s find out.
There are downsides and upsides when it comes to working from home and the office. By comparing the two, you can decide which model suits your startup better.
The former lets your employees work from the comfort of their own homes. As it packs more freedom and flexibility, it helps improve employee’s productivity and job satisfaction.
On the negative side, working from home may affect the in-person connection, cause potential burnout, and interfere with work-life balance.
However, some of those problems can be easily solved. Here are some ideas:
- Encourage your staff to take regular breaks and remind them of the importance of taking time off to prevent burnout.
- Schedule a regular catch-up call and virtual team bonding to help your employees ease social and emotional isolation.
- Subsidize internet access charges to help your employees afford a faster connection.
Being able to transfer your business entirely online also plays a significant role. For example, if you run a brick-and-mortar store, you’ll have to introduce it to the eCommerce world.
A website will serve as a base for your company’s information. Thus, it’ll be easier for your employees to get their jobs done from home, whether they’re in the design team or the sales team.
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When it comes to working from the office, it’s a long-established working structure with a fixed time slot and a physical building where employees go every day. Some of the best benefits from this system include:
- Increased interpersonal skills. Meeting people, including your coworkers, seniors, and clients, helps employees learn how to interact and build excellent relationships with others.
- Personal cubicle space. It often includes a computer, desk, and working chair. Thus, workers don’t need to buy the equipment themselves, saving them money. On top of that, the office environment encourages them to keep being productive as everyone moves towards the same goal.
- Better company understanding. Having the opportunity to enjoy office life helps employees to learn more about the company and its culture. Also, feeling a sense of belonging in a company is essential if an employee plans to work for an extended time.
However, there are also negative sides to working from the office. They often include injuries, commute stress, sedentary lifestyle, and health issues, which can be minimized by implementing the working from home policy.
In the previous section, you’ve figured that working from home can help improve productivity and job satisfaction. This is because remote working allows employees to set their own schedule that caters to their needs.
Now, let’s dive deep into the five benefits of working remotely.
For some people, the regular nine-to-five working hour schedule may not fit their lifestyle. Half of your employees can be night owls, and the other half may prefer working on and off.
Remote working allows your employees to schedule their work time on their terms. Thus, your employees can take a break whenever they need one. Flexitime also lets them squeeze in some chores or run some errands in between their working hours.
It’s an excellent advantage for those that have difficulties in staying focused. By the time they’re back to their desks, they may have their mind refreshed to finish their tasks.
By offering this option, you acknowledge that there’s a when and how your employees work best. When they’re given the freedom to set their own timing, it helps lower their work pressure and increase company productivity.
Among the best perks, remote working includes the ability to work from anywhere in the world. As long as the location has internet connectivity, there will be no problem whether your employees choose to work by the beach or on a mountain top.
Apart from that, remote working makes it easier for working couples. Given that one of them has to shift to another location, the other can keep their job and move with their partner.
The U.S average for a one-way commuting time is 26.1 minutes. Let alone the varied distance each commuter has to travel and departure delays which can prolong the commuting time. Facing such a situation twice a day can increase commute stress and anxiety levels.
Working from home allows employees to have easier mornings to start their day and freer evenings to catch up with family. Going for a morning run and cooking a nice dinner is a much nicer way to spend time compared to commuting.
Spending the majority of time at the office or on a train isn’t the best way to keep an employee happy and healthy.
A study shows that 77% of people say flexitime allows them to live healthier. As staying at home means your employees can prepare their meals, there will be less fast food consumption and more nutritional intakes.
The same research also reveals that 86% of the participants feel flexible jobs reduce stress. It may be because employees can spend more time with their near and dear ones. Additionally, the company of furry friends is proven to boost the serotonin level and reduce loneliness. Thus, it helps maintain a positive mood throughout the day.
Work-life balance is about how a person equally separates their career and personal life to achieve an equilibrium. Pulling off a work-life balance may seem challenging. However, setting boundaries can help divide the two poles.
Here are some tips for a better work-life balance to remind your employees:
- Always prioritize health. Exercising and eating healthy food are two of the best ways to maintain both physical and mental health. Also, providing a therapist can be a big help if your employees ever need emotional support.
- Focus on the to-do list. Let your employees skip a call if they feel they don’t need to be a part of it. That way, they can use the time to finish their tasks.
- Set a schedule. Encourage your employees to communicate the time you can find them online. This helps them complete their errands and spend time with their family and friends without any interruptions from work.
- “Go home” on time. If you’re available all the time, your work hours will not end. Especially if you’re in a team of different people from different time zones. Therefore, don’t be afraid to unplug when it’s time.
- Take some time off. Remind your employees to take their leaves. It’s vital to take some time to shut off from work for a while and recharge.
Remote working helps employees afford a better quality of life. It’s because working in an environment where everything is familiar helps them feel more relaxed. Furthermore, the natural outcomes from this often include increased productivity and job satisfaction.
Here’s the recap of the five benefits of working remotely:
- Lets your employees set their own schedules, supporting the when and how they work best.
- Allows your employees to work and live from anywhere in the world.
- Reduces stress and anxiety caused by commuting.
- Improves mental and physical health and well-being.
- Helps your employees balance their work and personal life.
Finally, should your startup operate from home or return to the office? The former may be the best bet, given all the benefits it brings. Whatever you decide, make sure it benefits your employees as that will automatically benefit your business too.