Should you be working from home?

Over the past few years, many people were forced to work from home (WFH) or remotely due to various lockdown circumstances. However, as more businesses encourage employees to return to the office, a new workplace debate has cropped up – is a hybrid of remote and office-based work the future of the workplace?

Some businesses allow employees to work from home, others allow them to work remotely. What’s the difference? Well, it’s simple. If you have been granted permission to WFH, you are expected to work from the residential address that you’ve supplied to your HR department.

If your company allows you to work remotely, you can work from anywhere – provided you are able to connect to your business systems seamlessly. That be a challenge considering the ongoing Eskom load-shedding in South Africa, and the need to be hypervigilant about the security of your online connection. Where you work could also affect your employer’s rights when it comes to matters of occupational health and safety, so you must clear where you work with your boss and your HR department.

Of course, WFH or working remotely isn’t new (companies like Apple, GitHub, Google and Microsoft have been offering this for years), and while the prospect of working in a space of your choosing sounds great, being on your own physically while trying to contribute to team projects can be challenging.

‘I certainly feel that I’m getting more done: for work, with my family, and around the house,’ writes Vasundhara Sawhney for Harvard Business Review. ‘What’s more, I have greater flexibility to decide what to do when, whether that means answering emails in the evening or spending time with loved ones during the day. There’s a reason that WFH was on the rise even before the pandemic, and now both organisations and individuals seem more comfortable with it than ever before.’

WFH has its downsides

Sawhney says the downsides of prolonged WFH, however, can include monotony, social isolation and burnout: ‘This can’t be ignored.’

In her article What do we like about WFH?, she says: ‘According to one survey, employees working apart from colleagues were most concerned about diminished collaboration and communication, increased loneliness and being unable to unplug. And studies show that what remote workers gain in efficiency and productivity, they lose in harder-to-measure benefits such as creativity, innovation, teamwork, trust and empathy.’

There are upsides when you work from home

It’s not all doom and gloom, though. Flexibility in setting your schedule and managing your time is an obvious benefit of WFH, as is the saving in time and money you can make by removing the need for a daily commute. And if you can train yourself to separate ‘office time’ from ‘personal time’, so you can log off when you finish your working day to spend time with your loved ones, you’ll reduce your risk of burnout or succumbing to the ‘always on’ syndrome.


There are many successful remote workers across different industries


WFH can also be good for businesses. In a piece published by Harvard Business School, journalist Kristen Senz writes, ‘Companies that let their workers decide where and when to do their jobs –whether in another city or in the middle of the night – increase employee productivity, reduce turnover, and lower organisational costs.’

Flexibility is key to keeping employees engaged

Senz continues: ‘New research by Prithwiraj Choudhury, an associate professor in the Technology and Operations Management Unit at Harvard Business School, and fellow researchers compared the outcomes of flexible work arrangements at the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). The team found that employees with liberal ‘work from anywhere’ arrangements, similar to those offered at Akamai, NASA, and GitHub, among others, were 4.4% more productive than those following a more traditional ‘work-from-home’ policy that gives schedule flexibility but requires workers to live near the office.’

Senz adds the research highlights that ‘working from home’ gives workers temporal flexibility, and that working remotely or ‘work from anywhere’ goes a step further and provides both temporal and geographic flexibility.

‘Digital technology has made workers more efficient and accessible than ever before, [but] many companies have been slow to let employees work from home regularly, let alone from anywhere at any time. The study’s findings can help firms understand the effects of various flex-work options, and support certain types of employees as they negotiate with employers,’ she writes.

Meanwhile, Choudhury’s study notes the results have important implications for workers, who could potentially move to lower-cost areas, reduce commuting costs, and live closer to family and friends.

The types of people who can work from home or remotely

Not everyone is cut out for WFH or flexible remote work. While some people thrive in a remote work environment, others may struggle. Here are some of the different types of personalities that can work from home or remotely with success. If you identify with one or more of these traits, you should thrive in WFH environments – which is beneficial to you and your employer.


Self-starters are highly motivated and driven individuals who do not need someone to micromanage them. They are proactive and take charge of their work, which makes them great candidates for remote work. They know how to prioritise tasks, manage their time effectively, and deliver high-quality work on time.

Independent workers

Independent workers are individuals who enjoy working alone and do not need constant supervision or collaboration to get their work done. They are self-sufficient and can work on their own without needing too much direction. They are great at setting their own goals and finding ways to achieve them independently.

Flexible individuals

Flexible individuals are those who can adapt to changing circumstances quickly. They are not rigid in their thinking or behaviour and can adjust their work style to suit the needs of the company or the project. They are open-minded and can work well with different types of people and personalities.

Communication experts

Calling all writers? Seriously though, working remotely requires a high level of communication skills, both written and verbal. Communication experts are individuals who can express their ideas clearly and concisely, whether it is through email, chat or video calls. They are great at keeping others informed about their progress, asking for feedback, and resolving issues quickly.

Tech-savvy individuals

Working remotely requires individuals to have a good understanding of technology, such as video conferencing software, project management tools, and cloud-based storage systems. Tech-savvy individuals are comfortable with using technology and can troubleshoot technical issues on their own, which makes them ideal candidates for remote work.

Goal-oriented individuals

Goal-oriented individuals are highly focused and driven by achieving their goals. They set clear objectives for themselves and work diligently to achieve them. They are great at managing their time and resources effectively and know how to prioritise their tasks to meet their goals.


We built the Nedbank Money app to help you bank from anywhere, anytime using your smartphone


Remote work is not for everyone. However, if you possess some of the traits discussed above, you might be well-suited to work from home or remotely.

Successful remote workers you can draw inspiration from

There are many successful remote workers across different industries, some of whom include:

Darren Murph A remote-work expert who leads GitLab's global remote team. He has worked remotely for over a decade and has written extensively about the topic.

Matt Mullenweg Mullenweg is the co-founder of WordPress, a content management system used by millions of websites worldwide. He is a strong advocate for remote work and runs Automattic, the company behind WordPress, with a fully distributed team.

Scott Hanselman Hanselman is a well-known software developer and advocate for remote work. He has been working remotely (for Microsoft mostly) for over a decade and runs a popular blog and podcast sharing his experiences.

Tim Ferriss You've probably heard his name before if you like to read. Ferriss is the author of the bestselling book The 4-Hour Workweek and a successful entrepreneur. He advocates for remote work as a way to increase productivity and reduce stress.

Tracy Osborn Osborn is a designer and the founder of WeddingLovely, an online platform for wedding planning. She runs her business remotely and has written extensively about the benefits of remote work.

Laurel Farrer As a remote-work consultant and speaker, Farrer helps companies transition to remote working. She has been working remotely for over a decade and has helped numerous businesses successfully adopt the practice.

These individuals, among many others, have built successful careers as remote workers and have shown that working remotely (including WFH) is a practical and effective way to work.

Nedbank understands that remote workers require flexible banking solutions. We built the Nedbank Money app to help you bank from anywhere, anytime using your smartphone. More than 2 million South Africans use the Money app. From opening a new account to applying for personal loan, you can do it all from a remote location as long as you’re connected to a secure Wi-Fi network or mobile network. The Nedbank Money app is available in the Apple App store, Google Play store and Huawei App Gallery and is compatible with most popular smart devices.