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5 Advantages & Disadvantages of Working from Home

Monday 26th October 2020

Due to the rise of COVID-19 cases over the course of 2020, working from home has become an increasingly popular option amongst UK businesses wishing to retain some form of work output over the course of the lockdown, as well as to be a remedy for the business in the case of future lockdowns. The spread of home working is opening up a new range of possibilities for how businesses can work and structure themselves.

As well as new opportunities and benefits, working from home brings in new responsibilities for both employer and employee. For example, employees with 26 weeks service have a statutory right to request flexible working arrangements, such as home working, which the employer has to consider seriously.

There have been many published articles on the advantages and disadvantages to work from home for employees since the practice became more widespread in March 2020. We've listed some of these here; 

5 Advantages of home working

  • Potential for better work-life balance  - being at home means workers don't have commuting issues and can balance home needs with work
  • Access to a wider pool of applicants and increased employee retention – wfh helps you access workers from more geographically remote areas who may prefer to work from home. Without a long commute or travel issues, employees may prefer to stay with such an organisation
  • Possible productivity gains – due to fewer interruptions, allowing for more focused work.
  • Financial benefits – savings on office space, other facilities and travel expenses, amongst others.
  • Convenience – ability to locate sales staff near clients rather in your premises.

5 Disadvantages of home working

  • Workers feeling isolated and potential for mental health issues - becuase of distance, there could be communication problems that could increase feelings of isolation amongst workers. This could have impacts on productivity and creativity
  • Difficulty monitoring performance and developing staff – there could be a difficulty in managing home workers and monitoring their performance. As a result, this could also lead to a difficulty of maintaining staff development and upgrading skills.
  • Cost of working from home – initial costs of training and providing suitable equipment, including adaptions to meet health and safety standards, furthermore, there could be increases in telephone or broadband bills or the requirements to supply employees with appropriate equipment
  • Information security risks – information security problems may be more likely to occur.
  • Not all jobs suit home working – working from home suits some jobs better than others and suits certain personalities better than others. Every employee’s situation is different.

From a management systems point of view, Working from Home changes the context of the organisation. Compliance Managers are strongly advised to update their ISO systems with the following information: 

Potential Update Suggested Content
Context of the Organisation

In your 'Context of the Organisation' define: 

  • How many people may be working from home
  • The communications systems that are being used throughout the organisation (e.g. Zoom, MS Teams, other)
  • Support that is available to employees working from home (Technical, Managerial, or Welfare) 

There are risks associated with Working from Home that could be added to a Risk Register: 

  • Quality; Loss of productivity becuase workers are isolated
  • Quality; Loss of consistency or quality of output becuase workers are isolated and management practices need to change
  • Quality: Loss of creativity caused by isolated workers
  • Environmental: Commercial waste being disposed of through residential waste streams 
  • Safety: Display screen equipment causing issues for workers
  • Safety: Increased equipment causing fire or electrical failures at workers homes
  • Safety; Increased risks becuase vacated office premises are not maintained correctly
  • Occupational Health: Increased stress or mental health issues arising from isolation
  • Information Security: Increased risk of IS incidents or breaches of policy becuase workers behave differently at home
  • Information Security: Increased risk of data breaches because confidential information is increasingly shared on screens, confidential waste is not secured, or insecure file transfers take place

There are also opportunities for Management systems that can arise from Working at Home

  • Commercial: Reduced costs because office premises are no longer required
  • Quality: Increased performance might be targetted becuase workers, if well managed become more managed
  • Environmental: Opportunity to implement paper-free processes by not providing printer facilities to home workers
  • Safety: Reduced risks to workers because they are not travelling un-necessarily
  • Information Security: Opportunities to implement more effective methods for role based access to information sources

Whatever your circumstances, working from home is a practice that will be in the workplace for many years to come and needs to managed appropriately. SHEQ and Compliance Managers should ensure they have reflected this correctly in their ISO management systems. 


Nic Farrell

Published on 26 October 2020

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We hope this article has been helpful

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