The way we are working is changing, and dramatically at that. Our recent Employment Monitor found that a whopping 88% of employees believe they are productive no matter where they work from. Gone are the days when work was simply a place you showed up at 9am each morning. Jobs are increasingly seen less in terms of location and more in terms of duties and activities. It’s not surprising that the Citrix Workplace of the Future report predicts that by 2020 a third of employees won’t work from a traditional office but at home, at field sites or in partner locations.
There are some obvious advantages to companies adopting more mobile work styles. It gives people from diverse backgrounds and in many different locations the opportunity to enter the workforce. And who could deny the luxury of being able to set your alarm for 8.55am and blast through your emails in your pyjamas? However, those of us who have worked from home in the past know that it’s not always all it’s cracked up to be. Here are five reasons the office might be a better shout than you think.
The day goes by a lot slower when the only person you have to chat to is yourself – and a pet if you’re lucky! Discussing the latest Netfix hit or last Friday’s after-work drinks isn’t just a way to fill silences with colleagues. It gives you the opportunity to switch off for a minute, which in turn leads to increased productivity and creativity. Brainstorming sessions and team meetings are often where the best ideas are formed. It’s also much easier to become disinterested in your workload when there aren’t peers around to inspire and motivate you.
It’s difficult to have a good work/life balance
You suddenly have the urge to wash the kitchen floor when you should be finishing your Friday report. You’re tempted to check your emails late at night when your family and friends are demanding your attention. The line between work and play merges when your office is also your space for socialising and relaxing. Distraction during the day means that your workload may seep into your personal time, making it difficult to ever fully switch off.
You’re constantly expected to be ‘on’
“Lucky for some!”, “Well, isn’t that nice for you”, “I wish my job was that relaxed” – people who work in non-traditional environments are well used to reactions like these! Many people still don’t take working outside of an office seriously, meaning mobile workers feel under pressure to prove themselves. They may take on more than they can handle and not take proper breaks to overcompensate for negative perceptions.
You miss out on opportunities
Out of sight, out of mind. There is the danger of being overlooked for promotion when you’re not physically present in the office. Other more visible employees are actively vying for career opportunities and training – you might not even find out about these. Being alienated from company developments may mean that you are uninformed and cannot carry out your work to the best of your ability, hindering your career progression in the long run.
There may be issues with resources
When you work from home you have to rely on your own resources to complete tasks. You may not have a printer, scanner, shredder and other equipment that you take for granted in the office. A slow internet connection can turn the simplest assignments into a nightmare, while an improper work station can lead to bad posture and backache. Transforming your home into an effective office space costs money, and you have much higher bills when the heating and electricity are being used throughout the day.
The trend in mobile working is only set to continue, with innovative office alternatives being conjured up every day. Completing your ‘to do’ list on your sofa might sound like a dream, but disruptions and limitations in communication and resources could have you tearing your hair out. There’s nothing wrong with working from home if it suits your work style and you stay on top of that work/life balance. But if you think the office is your best bet, there’s no shame in that either.