At the time of writing, Victorians are still at 50% working from the office, and 50% working from home (WFH).
However, with the way things are going, this may be changing soon, with caps on workplace attendance slowly lifting across the state.
Just one question: should you return to 100% in-office work – once you’re allowed to?
It’s a question that many employers throughout the state are grappling with, especially after almost a full year working from home.
At many organisations, they’ve actually gotten so used to WFH that they’re seriously considering making it a staple going forward.
And it’s not because of COVID, either – all the pandemic did was accelerate an already-growing trend. All the way back in 2013, 25% of Australians were already telecommuting to an extent.
Make no mistake, work from home is here to stay.
And with that comes a number of both advantages and problems, both of which you’ll need to accommodate for as the “office” continues to evolve…
Is telecommuting a good idea? The pros and cons of telecommuting
As you’ve no doubt found out over the course of the last year, telecommuting comes with some serious changes.
And not all of them are bad – in fact, in many cases it’s actually proven to be an advantage.
Of course, we aren’t trying to pretend that it’s the perfect solution for all office-based workplaces. WFH has its place – if you’re going to make it a part of your office going forward, you’ll need to know its strengths and weaknesses, as well as how to offset them.
And that’s what today’s article is all about!
In many cases, the disadvantages of WFH aren’t even necessarily to do with telecommuting itself – our recruitment consultant in Melbourne think they’re actually the result of a poorly-implemented WFH system.
If you understand each of the disadvantages, you can even identify and offset them altogether!
What are the benefits of telecommuting? What employers see as the advantages of WFH life
The only commute you’ll be doing while working from home is going from bed to your home office!
Whether that takes the form of a bonus sleep-in or time to actually fit in a filling breakfast, this is easily one of the biggest advantages of telecommuting.
Not to mention, a lot of employees are simply used to it now.
And don’t forget to think about yourself, either – no commute means you can commit to school drop-off (or even get that little bit of extra sleep!)
It’s great for putting out fires
Every business has to deal with small emergencies from time-to-time. Whether it’s something that’s running overtime, a tight deadline, or an unexpected issue, sometimes you need something done out-of-hours, and urgently.
Under the traditional office set-up, often the only way to do that is by popping into the office after-hours – a time-consuming way of doing things, especially if your team works far away from your office.
Remote working allows many of these issues to be fixed remotely, making it great for dealing with those late-night emergencies that pop up from time-to-time at your business.
Not only is this a huge help for employees who might be parents or have other commitments, but it can also be a golden opportunity for managers like you.
Simply put, people like having flexibility.
It’s something people want – in fact, according to some surveys, 44% of respondents were willing to take a pay cut in exchange for a remote working option!
Keep WFH going forward, and you can expect a good amount of your workers to be a lot happier working with you.
Smaller office spaces
Commercial rent is expensive – having much of your team working from home, however? Once the initial set-up is done, it’s 100% free.
Many businesses have seen the opportunity, and have chosen to downsize to smaller office spaces or look into hot-desking, saving thousands of dollars in rent each year going forward.
What are the disadvantages of telecommuting? What pitfalls might businesses face?
Some things just can’t be done remotely
While there are many systems that can allow a lot of different office functions to be performed remotely, there are some that simply need to be done in-person.
Sure, offices aren’t like manufacturing or services where an in-person presence is crucial.
However, there are still some office tasks that are a lot easier when done in the office – for example:
- It’s hard to repair a computer system remotely
- Our customer service recruitment agency in Melbourne has noticed that these roles can be harder without face-to-face communication
- If your company server can’t be taken online, it can be hard to access your files
- Creatives often feel more productive with others, when they can bounce ideas off each other
Of course, that doesn’t mean that WFH is completely worthless just because some things need a physical presence!
Direct supervision is harder
While there are a whole host of tools out there to monitor your staff while they’re working remotely, it’s not the same as direct supervision.
For positions where a lot of cooperation and supervision is required, in-office work might be preferable to WFH.
With the right set-up and regular check-ins however, this doesn’t have to be a problem!
Communication can be slower
Maybe a WFH team member has gone to the kitchen to make some tea, gone for a bathroom break, or had to run an errand.
In these cases, it’s possible for crucial messages to not be opened immediately, which can cause frustration.
Luckily, systems like instant messaging and project management tools can make things considerably easier, and minimise the amount of time that urgent messages go unread.
And it’s on employees to keep their team informed of any unexpected absences – a quick instant message to let your team know you need to pop out will work wonders.
The learning curve
For businesses that have never had to WFH before, the adjustment can be difficult, especially for team members that struggle with digital literacy.
However, given the last year, most of your team members should be a lot more proficient with it.
And not to mention, the ones who still struggle with it can continue to work in-person to make their working experience easier.
Other questions about WFH
Does telecommuting really increase productivity?
Often, you’ll see people putting it squarely in one camp or the other. Some claim it’s the best productivity-booster ever, while others decry it as resulting in projects being late.
Our employment agency in Melbourne is going to take a middle ground and say that it can be either – it all depends on the individual.
Some find that working from home is less distracting – without noise from everyone else’s desks to distract them as well as a longer sleep, many find that they’re able to focus on their work.
On the other hand, some find that they perform better in an office. Perhaps their home is even more distracting, or they need to be in the office to “get in the zone”.
Either way, it all comes down to the person in question – it’s up to you to figure out which of your team members perform best with WFH. Look out for the signs of struggle and from there, you might like to help them find a better balance between home and the office.
How do you successfully telecommute?
As an employer, the key to a successful WFH system is just that: a system.
Many businesses tried to get through the pandemic without a plan, using regular old emails to keep things running remotely.
All this ad-hoc way of doing things results in is a chaotic mess – the best way to deal with WFH is to have a proper system set up, complete with:
- Time-tracking software
- Instant messaging apps
- Project management tools
- File-sharing systems
- Cloud folders for collaboration
- VPNs for security
And it isn’t just the tech, either – it’s crucial that you stay in touch with regular meetings to see where everyone’s at.
Additionally, keep the friendly workplace chit-chat going – consider a Friday afternoon catch-up to check in on the week gone by and chat about upcoming weekend plans.
Hire staff who are ready for the new WFH era
Whether your business is one of the ones that’s decided to shift entirely to telecommuting, is moving to a 50-50 split or simply wants to keep it as an option, there’s no denying that we’re entering the WFH era.
And that means that all of your hiring decisions going forward are going to have to take an applicant’s suitability for telecommuting into account.
This is where QUDOS Recruitment shines.
Specialising in permanent recruitment in Melbourne as well as filling temp positions, we’re the ones to call when it comes to finding WFH-ready job applicants.
Our in-depth recruitment process goes beyond simply checking people’s previous work experience – our focus is on finding the right fit.
That means diving into their personality, traits and “soft” skills to ensure that they’re capable of fitting into a remote workforce.
In-depth personality and aptitude testing ensures that you’re connected with people who won’t have an issue adjusting to your WFH set-up.