#WFH: Does working from home work for you?

The Covid pandemic has caused an unprecedented shift in how we work. In many sectors, remote work became a necessity almost overnight, and working from home has become the new norm for a lot of people. That’s hardly surprising, since working from home has been part of human history since people first settled on farms and in cities, long before we invented social-media hashtags like #WFH.

Before the Industrial Revolution, artisans and craftspeople generally worked from home to produce goods. The arrival of factories and manufacturing plants changed ways of working completely. So did the rise of commerce and the need for different departments within a business, which evolved into modern office work.

The rise of technology and broader access to the internet in recent years has led to a resurgence of remote work. Many people work in online technology or information-based services these days, and companies have found that letting employees work from home can cut office overheads while increasing job satisfaction.


Why employees want to work from home

It’s not just about comfort. Working from home has many benefits for employees:

  • It allows for a more flexible schedule, leading to a better work–life balance.
  • It eliminates the daily commute, saving time and money.
  • It can increase productivity, as there are fewer distractions and interruptions from office mates.

Experts say you need ideal work conditions to thrive when working from home. But everyone is different, and we all need slightly different environments to function at a high-performance level. A study published in the Harvard Business Review found that remote workers were more productive, had higher job satisfaction, and experienced less stress than their office-based counterparts.

Another study conducted by Stanford University found that remote workers could work more hours per week and were less likely to take sick days than those who worked in a traditional office environment.

Some companies are getting #WFH right

Many companies have embraced remote work, including some of the biggest names in the business. Google, for example, has extended its work-from-home policy and has announced that it will experiment with a more flexible work week when employees return to the office.


Remote work opens up job opportunities to people who may not have been able to access them before

Twitter (despite the turmoil) has gone even further, allowing their employees to work from home permanently. Other companies, such as Facebook and Microsoft, have announced that they will adopt a hybrid work model, where employees can work from home or come into the office. Nedbank offers a flexible work environment, enabling employees to work remotely or from the office a few days a week.

Potential #WFH positives 

Increased flexibility

Working from home allows for increased flexibility in schedules and location, which can lead to more autonomy over your workday. According to Kate Lister, President of Global Workplace Analytics, ‘Flexible work arrangements help people integrate work and life in a way that enables them to be more productive and engaged in both.’

Cost savings

Both employers and employees can save money through remote work. Sara Sutton, CEO and Founder of FlexJobs, says ‘Employers who offer work-from-home options save money on overhead costs, and employees save money on commuting costs.’

Increased productivity

Studies have shown remote workers are often more productive than their in-office counterparts, as they have fewer distractions and can work in an environment tailored to their needs. According to a study conducted by Stanford University, ‘Remote workers completed an additional day’s worth of work per week compared to those working in an office.’

Increased job satisfaction

Your home is often a more comfortable environment to work in than an office. Scott Mautz, author of Find the Fire: Ignite Your Inspiration and Make Work Exciting Again, says, ‘Remote workers often report higher job satisfaction, as they have more autonomy and control over their work environment.’

Expanded job opportunities

Working from home can expand job opportunities for employees, as they can work for a business based anywhere. This can create a more diverse workforce and increased opportunities for career advancement. ‘Remote work opens up job opportunities to people who may not have been able to access them before,’ says Brie Reynolds, Career Development Manager and Coach at FlexJobs.

Potential #WFH negatives

Isolation and loneliness

Some people thrive on solitude, but most of us don’t. It can be isolating if you can’t interact with co-workers in person, and decreased social interaction isn’t always healthy. Nick Bloom, Professor of Economics at Stanford University, believes, ‘Working from home can be very lonely and depressing, and can lead to decreased job satisfaction and increased turnover.’

Difficulty separating work and home life

If you work remotely, don’t fall into the habit of working longer hours, or allowing work stresses to leak into your family time. ‘Many remote workers report difficulty unplugging from work, leading to burnout and decreased job satisfaction,’ says Sara Sutton.


Many companies are likely to continue offering remote work options


Lack of collaboration and communication

Kate Lister says, ‘Remote workers often struggle to communicate and collaborate effectively, leading to decreased productivity and innovation.’ Remote workers need to have reliable real-time communication channels and regular office meetings online to collaborate and communicate productively.

Technology issues

Working from home relies heavily on technology, which can sometimes be unreliable. Frustration with the digital work environment can impact productivity. ‘Technology issues can cause remote workers to feel disconnected and frustrated, leading to decreased job satisfaction,’ Scott Mautz warns.

Lack of structure

Working from home requires the self-discipline to manage your own performance daily. If you work best when a manager structures your workday, you might do better in an office environment. If you’re prone to procrastination and distractions when unsupervised, remote work could lead to poor performance.


Hybrid workforce: The future of work?

According to a study conducted by global management consultants McKinsey & Company, a hybrid work model may be the best strategy for businesses moving forward. The study found that companies that embrace a hybrid model could see benefits such as improved productivity, increased employee satisfaction and a more diverse workforce. The hybrid model allows employees to work from home sometimes and come into the office for team meetings and collaboration. This model enables companies to support a sense of connection and collaboration while reaping the benefits of remote work.

Many companies are likely to continue offering remote work options. To succeed, they must provide employees with the tools and resources to be productive while supporting that sense of connection and collaboration. Regardless of the specific model that companies adopt, remote work is here to stay, and companies must adapt to this new reality to succeed.

Something else you can do from home – or anywhere you like – is your banking. With a computer, cellphone or smart device, you have access to all Nedbank’s products and services through secure digital banking.