Why Working from Home is OverratedJuly 13, 2020
With stage three lockdown restrictions being announced once more by the Victorian government and Premier Daniel Andrews, working from home, unless you work in an essential job, will once again be enforced. As of Wednesday 8 July 2020, stay at home orders will be reintroduced. The decision to do so was due to unfortunate statistics of exponentially increasing numbers of COVID-19 cases being acquired through community transmission. During the Coronavirus pandemic, it has become commonplace for businesses across several industries to now work from home.
Areas affected by these orders include all of metropolitan Melbourne and Mitchell Shire. The full list of council areas affected can be found on the Victorian government website. These particular councils were forced into lockdown due to an unacceptably high rate of community transmission.
Individuals living in these council areas are now only permitted to leave the house for four reasons under stage three lockdown restrictions. This includes shopping for essential supplies and food, giving care or receiving medical attention, exercise within the locked-down areas and going to work or school if this is essential and cannot be done from home. This will be enforced until at least Wednesday 19 August 2020 and may be extended if there are still high rates of community transmission of COVID-19.
As businesses prepare to go back to working remotely, some have suggested that remote work may be the way of the future. Statistics have shown that up to 88% of organisations have made their employees work from home or have at least encouraged remote work. With increased working flexibility, many have come forward to say that they prefer this working style. Others are finding working from home challenging, however, due to several barriers. Some companies are expected to continue remote work into the future, with approximately 74 per cent of companies suggesting that they would consider permanently shifting traditional roles to remote work after the Coronavirus pandemic is over in order to reduce company costs.
While some costs may be reduced, such as rent expenses for offices, purchasing office equipment and buying beautiful wire furniture for reception areas, remote work is not all it is hyped up to be. There are many disadvantages that can be identified when considering working from home. Some of these disadvantages are as follows:
Many cybercriminals have taken advantage of businesses participating in remote work. In just 24 hours, Microsoft identified a phishing campaign that used over 2, 300 web pages to scam individuals. Phishing refers to a particular form of cybercrime in which scammers target individuals through emails, texts or phone calls by posing as legitimate companies or institutions. They do this to trick their targets into providing sensitive information such as banking or credit card details, passwords, personal details like birthdays and personally identifiable intelligence. In the case of Microsoft, scammers disguised themselves as institutions providing information on COVID-19 and financial compensation.
Technological and Infrastructure Barriers
Barriers in technology and infrastructure can impact connectivity and the level of productivity of a business. During the COVID-19 pandemic, many have experienced slow internet connection due to the influx of users across multiple internet servers. Studies have indicated that up to 54% of business and human resources managers have stated that technological issues and infrastructure inadequacies have created slower rates of productivity. This can also discriminate against particular employees or future employees, with underprivileged individuals who may not have access to certain technology or a computer being at a disadvantage.
Training New Staff Can Be Challenging When Working Remotely
Training staff over Microsoft Teams or Zoom can be particularly challenging. While there is the option to share a screen, it can make it harder for employees to learn new concepts when training is limited to online platforms. When training is performed in person, individuals conducting the training can write concepts on whiteboards, have multiple forms of information displayed, such as through presentation slides and paper handouts, and trainers can also see the work that has been completed by trainees along the way.
Communication Breakdown Can Occur
When communicating is limited to one team Zoom meeting a week, breakdowns in communication can occur. It is much easier to go and have a conversation with a colleague in the office than it is to try and organise a time to conduct a virtual meeting.
So, what is the best solution? Let’s have a look at some of the options for work arrangements and office layouts.
Open offices were once one of the trendiest and most popular commercial interior design options. They were formed to encourage better teamwork, collaboration and communication. Soon, companies started to realise the flaws that came with this layout though. Office spaces were often too noisy and other conversations, meetings and phone calls were found to be very distracting.
Cubicle offices refers to an office layout that provides individual desks and workspaces for everyone. Cubicle offices are a more traditional office style. This layout can discourage teamwork and collaboration, however, as employees are closed off from each other.
Co-working spaces are ideal for smaller companies. In these offices, you pay a monthly amount to access the facilities of an already set up workplace. Private rooms are available to rent or entrepreneurs can work in the communal workspaces. Working in this type of environment presents great opportunities to network with other businesses. Co-working offices often have metal display stands in the communal areas where you can leave pamphlets for promotions or information about your company.
A team-based office is great for both small and large companies. In this layout, there is a combination of both individual working areas and spaces to conduct teamwork in. This office interior design style is a newer type of workplace and combines the need for both individual and collaborative work requirements.
So, what is the verdict on the best way to work? Co-working spaces or team-based offices are ideally the best ways to work. While some level of remote work can be beneficial to increase employee flexibility, there should always be an area that employees can meet to work collaboratively, use company technology or facilities and participate in training.