If you’re like most of our clients, work from home showed up in a big way thanks to COVID — and it’s not going away.
The truth is, there’s just a lot to like about having the option to work from home at least some of the time. Well, from the employee’s perspective, at least.
If you’re an office-oriented, creative, or knowledge-economy sort of business, work from home can work, and it can work well. (And at this point, the cost of not offering it? You could lose team members if you don’t.)
Still, nearly three years in, many companies are discovering that WFH isn’t all roses and puppy dogs. There are perks and advantages, sure. But there are challenges, too.
For many businesses — maybe yours too — the best approach is offering it, but doing it with both eyes open, staying aware of the costs and the potential downsides that can crop up.
Let’s talk about the IT-related challenges as well as some hidden costs that can crop up with permanent remote work or hybrid arrangements.
Challenge 1: Emotional and Social Concerns
This first one isn’t exactly IT related, but it’s a big one. WFH can be massively helpful for some, but it can be isolating and demoralizing for others. The really sticky point is that some people who want to work from home still might suffer emotionally or socially from making that choice.
There are concerns as well about learning on the job and upward mobility, especially for younger workers. Not having the chance to rub shoulders with colleagues or see how they handled complex or tense situations (in real life) can be a drawback that hampers staff development.
Challenge 2: Risk of Burnout
Working from home was supposed to help work-life balance. But for many, it hasn’t quite worked out that way. Workers find it difficult to unplug even when their day is done — their laptop is only a few feet away, and maybe they could get ahead by just doing a smidge more.
Add to that the challenge of juggling kids and family responsibilities, and we’re seeing a lot more burnout. Help your at-home team set those boundaries, and be a good example yourself: don’t send leadership emails at 8pm, and don’t reply — even to quick notes — until tomorrow. Your team will catch on eventually.
Challenge 3: Mobile and Double Equipment
We all saw the viral reels and TikToks early on of people working in the most insanely uncomfortable spots, partners walking by half dressed, and so on. We all kind of understood it in the moment, but it isn’t going to work as a long-term strategy.
You’re going to need to assist your people with outfitting a proper home office, including safe and ergonomic desks and chairs. Otherwise, you’re going to be facing some workers comp claims in the not too distant future.
The other issue here is that you have to pivot to mobile equipment (like laptops), and, if you want your people to do hybrid schedules and actually be effective, you have to shell out for double of some things, like monitors and keyboards.
Challenge 4: Cybersecurity Concerns
WFH opens up another avenue for cyber threats, something we’ve written about in previous blog posts. Are your employees running secure Wi-Fi? Are their home internet connections fast enough to do business? Are they using endpoint-managed devices, or are they potentially compromising your network with a virus-laden computer you don’t know about?
On this last point especially, there are plenty of hidden costs — and complex technological issues to solve.
Blue Ridge Technology is here to help. Let us audit your current WFH arrangements and agreements, as well as your network and cybersecurity setups. We’ll get you work-from-home ready so you can succeed for the long haul.