Updated: Nov 14
Since the arrival of COVID-19, teleworking has become the new norm in a lot of countries. The pandemic brought with it regulations. Indeed, as a way of prevention, many governments asked people to avoid going to the office. So, the main solution was to offer employees to do their jobs from home. However, working remotely comes with disadvantages as it’s difficult to monitor remote teams. So, the disadvantages of teleworking are explored.
What is teleworking?
The European Framework Agreement defines teleworking as “a form of organizing and/or performing work, using information technology”. In other words, it’s work carried out away from the premises regularly. Four categorizations of teleworking can be made:
1. First, there is “full-time homeworking”, where the work is fully done at home and not at the office.
2. Second is “part-time homeworking” which consists of working at home at least a day a week.
3. The third category is “mobile teleworking”. It is usually performed in work that requires business trips.
4. The last category of teleworking includes places dedicated to work that aren’t offices of the company. For example, co-working spaces.
In Europe, 5 to 6% of employed people used to work from home during this past decade. This percentage has increased to 12% since the COVID-19 crisis. This is due to the government advising people to perform either full or part-time homework.
Are there advantages?
So, if teleworking is increasing in Europe, does this mean it only has advantages? Unfortunately, this is not the case. Still, we can count several advantages to teleworking.
First of all, it allows employees to have a better work-life balance. As they are working from home, they can combine family time with work time more easily.
Also, they spend less time traveling to the office. Therefore, there is more time for work and family.
Improved work efficiency is also mentioned as an advantage. Indeed, teleworkers can organize their work as they want to, and they have more autonomy. They can also get less distracted. At work, co-workers could come and initiate conversations. However, at home, if they have a dedicated room, there are fewer opportunities to get distracted.
What about the disadvantages?
One of the biggest issues is communication. According to several studies, teleworkers feel that is harder to manage their team this way. Furthermore, some don’t have the adequate equipment and technology to work outside the office. Additionally, some don’t have stable internet. As a result, communication between co-workers is less good.
Another disadvantage is social isolation. Not having interactions with colleagues can be difficult for some workers. Informal talks between co-workers make them feel safe and comfortable in the company. This benefits both the company and the employee. But, with teleworking, these informal talks don’t happen anymore. Due to this isolation, employees can be less efficient at work.
On the other hand, there is also the “hyper-connected” situation. Since employees can stay home for work, they can have a hard time disconnecting themselves from work. As a consequence, they work overtime or they don’t take breaks. Another reason for this is the fact that more request are coming in. Mails, meeting invitations, and other messages can be overwhelming.
As mentioned, not everyone has the right equipment for working from home. So, some might not have a private space to work. Therefore, work might be less efficient. Also, the workers’ health is affected. For instance, they can suffer from back pain.
For people with busy households, there can be a lot of distractions. Having kids to care for or having a lot of noise can impact the work performance. So, for these people, working from home is worse than working at the office.
Are there solutions?
The companies can offer several solutions to those disadvantages. They could offer workers to take some equipment from the office back home. For example, the computer or chair. This way, employees can work more comfortably.
Informal video meeting
To avoid social isolation, it can be good to organize informal video meetings between colleagues. Then, they can ask each other how they are feeling this week. Besides this, they can make plans together, like playing an online game.
Some limits have to be put at home to avoid being too connected. It can be the creation of a work schedule. Otherwise, leaving everything related to work in a room after work time can help. That way, they also keep the work-life balance stable.
What are the disadvantages of teleworking?
So, despite its advantages, there are also disadvantages to teleworking. Social, isolation, hyper-connection, bad communication, and wrong equipment can impact work performance. However, there are solutions. If businesses make adaptations, teleworking can be better implemented. Therefore, it’s important to pay attention to employees and offer them what they need on time.
Ferreira, R., Pereira, R., Bianchi, I. S., & da Silva, M. M. (2021). Decision Factors for Remote Work Adoption : Advantages, Disadvantages, Driving Forces and Challenges. Journal of Open Innovation : Technology, Market, and Complexity, 7(1), 70. https://doi.org/10.3390/joitmc7010070