HR Management & Compliance, Talent

Disadvantages of Remote Work

As COVID-19 still abounds and a large cohort of employees are working from home whenever possible, employers and employees alike are seeing the advantages and disadvantages of this setup. It’s clear there are a lot of positives, like decreased costs for everyone and great productivity levels. Technology has enabled remote work to continue nearly seamlessly for many roles across the economy.

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That said, the disadvantages are now also being felt. Here are a few of them:

  • Employees may feel lonely and isolated, which can be mentally draining.
  • Having to put on your “game face” for video meetings is tiring and can sap employee energy levels. (See this article for more information on this.)
  • Forming good working relationships, especially with people you’ve never met in person, can be more difficult. When there are fewer (if any) opportunities to interact in person, employees don’t always get to know one another as well, which can make teamwork more intimidating or difficult than it would be otherwise.
  • When employees aren’t physically present, it’s tougher to see difficulties and frustrations the employer may be able to assist with. But employers can’t address what they don’t know about.
  • Social isolation can lead to mental health struggles. Limited personal interactions can be problematic, even for those who are self-professed introverts. Having social bonds and interactions can be beneficial, and these are limited when the staff works remotely.
  • Working from home can actually lead to more burnout in some cases. It can be more difficult to mentally switch off at the end of the workday when work is at home, which can also result in employees working longer hours. Therefore, burnout can happen easily and may not be as obvious.
  • Growing or changing the organizational culture takes on a new level of complexity when the team is dispersed and can’t interact as closely as before.
  • Communications may seem less personal and be less likely to have the same impact when delivered solely electronically.
  • Employers may not be aware of employee dissatisfaction as quickly.
  • Preparing employees for remote work can have upfront costs employers may not have anticipated, like the need to pay for additional software to keep more work spaces and devices secure or the need to upgrade tools and processes to facilitate remote working.
  • Remote work may mean increased security risks for the organization.
  • It can be easier to inadvertently overlook high-performers because they’re less visible. This can lead to the unintentional appearance of favoritism or discrimination.
  • Tracking employee hours can be more complex, especially if there was no formal mechanism before the team transitioned to remote work.

If your organization has transitioned to more remote working this year, what else have you discovered about it that was surprising?