Remote jobs are more common than ever, but people who want to succeed at them must first reckon with the disadvantages of working from home. 

The Pros and Cons of Working from Home

Telecommuting, dispersed team, remote worker– these and phrases like them seem to be more common with each passing day. Although it might seem trendy to throw these terms around, there are two good reasons for their growing popularity:

  1. They’re all associated with people who work from home and the companies that hire them
  2. Almost 4 million Americans worked remotely, at least half of the time in 2018

These remote workers comprise about 3% of the total American workforce. These numbers represent more than a twofold increase compared to the 1.8 million people who worked from home in 2005.

These numbers demonstrate a willingness on the part of employers and employees to navigate the sometimes challenging waters of remote teams. The advantages of working from home are well documented, but there are disadvantages of working from home as well.

In the next few sections, we’ll discuss three of these disadvantages and provide tips on how to offset them.

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1. Working Without a True Community

Working by yourself is a far cry from the mad scramble you find in the traditional office. While co-located teams present challenges of their own, this lack of community can cause several problems for the company and the employee both.

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First, it’s difficult to feel a sense of belonging without a shared physical community. This makes contributing to (and benefiting from) a positive company culture very difficult. Just as deadlines help writers find their true voice, the friction that can develop between workers who share the same space often lead to the best ideas. The lack of a true community should be on every list of the pros and cons of working from home.

How to offset a lack of community

  1. Figure out how everyone can meet in person at least one time a year
  2. Make sure everyone understands your larger goals and company vision
  3. Establish a communication channel that’s dedicated to socialization and non-work related discussions.


2. High Turnover, Low Reliability

Unfortunately, using remote teams is often a case of ‘while the cat is away, the mice will play.’ Without a managerial presence nearby, remote workers can end up alienated, indifferent, and practically nonproductive.

This is where high turnover rates can come into play. Far too often, the best remote workers simply stop returning your messages and quit their jobs without notice. This increases training costs significantly and can create a scenario where only the least dedicated team members continue to be in your employ.


How to counter high turnover and unreliable workers

  1. Offer remote workers alternative forms of compensation in addition to their salary
  2. Keep accurate documentation of your business procedures
  3. Always run the content you receive through a plagiarism checker
  4. Vet candidates thoroughly and hire the right people in the first place

3. Inadequate Production

Low productivity is the result of all the disadvantages of working from home and the one thing that concerns managers the most. As we said at the top, it’s so easy for remote workers to get distracted that only disciplined, self-motivated people can work at home efficiently.

The truth is that most people require consistent oversight to stay productive over the long haul. Without it, too many remote workers succumb to the tempting distractions that are always present in their homes.

If the problem of low productivity can’t be corrected, then it’s probably better not to employ remote teams at all. Fortunately, there are solutions to the productivity problem that you can apply.


How to help remote workers become more productive

  • Only hire a remote worker if they’ve been successful working at home in the past
  • Use regular videoconferences to get to know your people and how to motivate them better
  • Reward your top performers instead of turning work into a competition
  • Intervene early with one-on-one coaching if a remote worker’s productions start to lag


Turning The Disadvantages of Working from Home Into Assets

As you can see, there are good reasons for companies to resist hiring remote workers. However, this doesn’t mean you should throw up your hands and allow your competitors to reap the benefits they offer. The first step is to acknowledge the disadvantages of working from home. Then, you can put processes into place that offset them.

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