The 5 Main Disadvantages of Working From Home

Last Updated: September 1, 2019

Arguments in favour of remote working are convincing, but there are as many disadvantages of working from home, and reasons to stick to the traditional office space.

by Agent Staff
disadvantages of working from home
Image Source: iStock

There are many sound reasons to board the ‘remote working’ train, for employers and employees; including reduced overheads and enhanced productivity, as employees work hard to maintain the benefits of not commuting daily. However, doesn’t this overlook and insufficiently consider the inevitable disadvantages of working from home?

While the benefits are well documented, they are mostly financial in nature, and finance should not be the only consideration governing such a major societal change. Both employer and employee should consider other important matters before choosing to ‘go remote’. While remote working has its advantages, there are as many disadvantages of working from home.

The pros and cons have to be carefully considered, and indeed they have been, by authors such as Simon Salt, a remote working veteran, whose arguments are persuasive.

But having already looked at the advantages, here are the 5 disadvantages of working from home.



1. It Isn’t As Eco-Friendly As You Think

Negative environmental impact may be one of the chief disadvantages of working from home. Bloomberg Business has reported that working from home can increase the carbon dioxide emissions that cause global warming, if workers are not vigilant about strictly limiting heating to their home office space.

London-based research group Carbon Trust explains that while extra electricity consumption from IT equipment is low, heating a single room for any more than seven hours daily, or the entire house for an extra 115 minutes, can result in net carbon emissions.

The Trust has provided ‘tipping point’ data, showing that home working is sustainable only if employees are travelling a minimum distance to work every day by public, private or shared transport.

These tipping points suggest that in urban environments, where most workers are commuting mainly by public or shared transport, walking or cycling, home working is more likely to be environmentally unsustainable.

The group estimates that net carbon savings will only result when workers are traveling more than 7km (14 miles) by car; 11km (7 miles) by bus; and 25km (16 miles) by train.



2. It’s Not Ideal for All Workers

One of the main disadvantages of working from home from an employer’s perspective is that the productivity & engagement levels of some workers may be difficult to sustain.

Employee behaviour and performance must be evaluated before the option of remote working is offered, or significant output variations could result if unchecked.

While some workers put in more time, the latest State of the American Workplace also report reveals that, in general, 70 percent of US workers are not engaged at work.



3. It May Hinder Collegiality and Collaboration

The Connect Solutions ‘Remote Collaborative Worker Survey‘ of 353 US respondents in December 2014, found 42 percent of remote workers feeling just as connected with colleagues as if they were in the office (and 10 percent even more so).

However, social interaction should not be discounted. Solitude can easily turn into isolation and negatively impact on collaborative potential and output.



4. The Need for a Formal Meeting Space

While supporters of remote work flag the virtues of roaming between home and public locations such as coffee shops, parks and hotels, such locations may not be appropriate all the time. Remote-working will not be the best solution in instances where client confidentiality is at a premium: for instance, legal advice or contract negotiations.



5. The Need for a Defined Working Space



Image Source: Amazon

Simon Salt, a seasoned ‘out of office’ worker who has published Out of Office, and been quoted by numerous print and online publications, says technological advances can in some cases heighten the need for a defined working space. Simon, who works from his spare room, says “it  isn’t really appropriate to conduct a video conference from the comfort of your bed”.

Therefore, there is a need for a working space that “can be both professional and look appropriate on camera”. A sobering thought, that, to conclude on…

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