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The disadvantages of working from home

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Due to the pandemic, many people have been pushed out of their work and office spaces and sent home to work. Working from home can work really well for those who have a busy life or trouble with child care etc but it can also have many disadvantages. Working from home isn’t quite like going to your workspace and like most things it does comes with its advantages and disadvantages but in this article, we are going to explore the disadvantages of using the home environment and you can weigh up if this really works for you.

The lure of the housework

One of the main problems when working from home is getting sucked into doing the housework. When you are in your home environment you are surrounded by everything that needs doing, all the time. When you work from home it’s so easy to cook something for lunch from scratch, start preparing tea or even go out to do the grocery shopping. It is important to remember that all of these things you simply wouldn’t do if you were out at work or at the office. 

The distraction of the housework when you are working from home can be a lot. Because you aren’t in a space that is your own it can be very easy to think to yourself, ‘i’ll just tidy the kitchen’ or ‘i’ll just do the hoovering’ etc. You need to stop and think to yourself, ‘Would I be doing this if I was at work’” The answer is very likely a great big NO. The housework can actually become a way to avoid doing your actual work, and what may seem a small task or break away from your work can become several hours. Because of this, it can be hard to separate yourself from work and home life. 

You have no daily structure

When you go to work, you have your set working hours, your set breaks, and usually, a plan which you work by in order to complete all your daily tasks. You wake up in the morning, grab your breakfast, and then probably make your daily commute to work. If you work from home, it can be all too easy to completely lose this structure and have no real plan. A lie-in can become a common occurrence, you might not know what time to start and you could genuinely just feel like you really don’t know how to start your day anymore. If you are someone that really does benefit from being ‘managed’ as you might struggle with your lack of organisational skills then working from home and the lack of structure it presents can be hard work. 

We have always been taught that work stays at work and the home environment is for winding down, spending time with your family, cooking and relaxing, etc. Working from home can really disturb this equilibrium. Setting a structure to your day when working from home can be tough because you haven’t got anything that separates your home life from your work life, you are still in the same building. 

Lack of Community and teamwork

People, by nature, are social creatures at heart which is why working from home can induce a real lack of community and term work. What many people consider a big disadvantage of working from home is the total lack of community and teamwork. If you are someone that thrives when you are around other people then working from home might be a struggle. Working from home, for this reason, can feel very isolated and lonely.

While the prospect of working from home can make some people very excited, without the distractions of the workplace and some incredible home comforts, there are others that might find it all too difficult to spend long hours alone and collaborate with just a computer screen. People’s productivity can be better when they are surrounded by other people and the hustle and bustle of a thriving environment. 

Nothing quite replaces face-to-face interaction and communication with actual work colleagues and the laughs that can also come with it. Today there are various platforms such as Zoom, Skype, etc., where work colleagues can connect through video calls and conferences, it just doesn’t feel the same as sitting together and brainstorming ideas to work effectively.

You must be extremely self-motivated

Lack of motivation can be a real issue when working from home. It’s hard to get yourself into the right mindset to smash those targets and meet your goals, especially when you don’t even see the point of getting out of your PJ’s all day.

To work from home, you really have to be self-motivated and if this isn’t something that comes naturally then you really have to put some time and effort into developing this skill. 

In order to stay motivated at home, it is vital that you create a working environment or space at home where you feel able to focus and complete tasks. If your idea of working from home consists of sitting in bed, not getting dressed, or sitting in front of the television with your laptop, it is unlikely that you will be very productive. You have to think to yourself, ‘would I stay in my PJ’s at work all day and watch TV’” If you wouldn’t do it at work then you shouldn’t do it at home, remember you are at work.

Certain personality types may struggle

The big problem with certain personality types, especially introverts, is that they can struggle so much with being alone. If you are someone that needs to go to work because it’s a huge part of your wellbeing in the sense of mixing with other people, then being stuck at home alone all day every day can be pretty damaging to your mental health. 

Some people really rely on the interaction they have with their work colleagues, and in some cases, it can be the only interaction they get at all. Working from home can, in some cases, contribute to depression and feelings of loneliness and isolation. Due to the pandemic studies have looked at the effects on workers’ mental health due to working from home. It has been found that well-being, stress, depression, fatigue, quality of life, strain, and happiness mostly diminished while spending long periods working from home.

The impact on health outcomes was strongly influenced by the degree of organisational support available to employees, colleague support, social connectedness (outside of work), and levels of work to family conflict. Overall, women were less likely to experience improved health outcomes when WAH.

Your phone and social media

Most day jobs mean that you can’t be on your phone every 5 seconds checking your social media and replying to messages. The lure of social media and the checking of the phone constantly can be such a big distraction when it comes to working from home. The thing is nobody is going to tell you not to do it, you aren’t in a strict environment where you are likely to be ‘told off’. With you being your ‘own boss’ somewhat it can become harder to distance yourself from things you would normally. 

If you are having to work from home regularly then this may mean muting your phone notifications and only checking your email once an hour. Of course, this can be difficult if you don’t feel the need to be disciplined, etc but it can be a big disadvantage to working at home. 

There are too many distractions

Unless you have your own separate working environment in your home such as an office or separate building then you are probably susceptible to a whole host of different distractions. Many people do find that working from home can bring along with it the benefit of a good work-life balance. You may feel that working from home allows you more time to be with your family and take part in other life events, but there is a little more to the picture. Watching TV and listening to music can be huge distractions to your working from home life. 

A survey released by Glassdoor, where nearly 1,000 employees were asked about their top concerns when working from home between March 11 and March 13, 2020, reported that roughly 32% of employees say watching TV is a top distraction when working remotely, followed by 27% who say child care is a huge distraction.

When you are at work the main thing is you need to focus and concentrate while doing your job, to produce the expected results from your employer. Focusing and applying yourself can prove to be highly difficult with the distractions of family wanting attention or other household noises. Not every home working environment can provide good working conditions as an office space can.

Lack of equipment and support

When working from home, you are often away from all of the facilities and equipment you need to complete your job. Being around your colleagues and being able to have a quick conversation and get your questions answered can become a long-winded process when working from home. It can turn into an unanswered phone call or several emails and a long wait, this is the type of thing you can easily take for granted when you go to work. You might not have access to all the same information sources, and equipment such as printers, papers, etc so working from home can be much more challenging in this sense.

What’s more at home you haven’t got the regulations in place to ensure your work surfaces are the correct height and poor-quality chairs and subsequently, bad postures can become very common. Neither of these should be an issue with a properly equipped home office. Without a proper desk and decent office chair your back, neck, and shoulders will eventually suffer.

To conclude…

Working from home can come with its challenges. For many, it is an unnatural way of working, and the social aspects and teamwork methods are lost when you are alone. It is easy to feel isolated and become a victim of all the distractions which are going on around you. You really need to ensure you are self-motivated and stick to a good working schedule and plan to ensure your productivity stays high. With some good planning and organization, you can make working from home productive, it’s a case of adapting to your situation and trying to separate work life from home life the best you can.

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