Working from home.. Be careful what you wish for….
COVID 19 forced businesses and workers to implement new remote-working models. The virus caused hundreds of thousands of private homes to be transformed into workplaces.
Is this new working from home (WFH) model a good or a bad thing? Here are some considerations.
The year is ending, and across the nation a large portion of the workforce has not returned to the office and is unlikely to do so for some time.
Public health orders, employer demands to reduce health risks and labour costs plus workers’ preferences means that WFH home may well become a permanent feature of the new world of work. One survey found that 81 per cent of those working at home want to keep working from home in some capacity.
There is much to like about WFH. The is no time-consuming and expensive commute to and from the office. You can do your own thing at a time of your choice; take a break; have a swim; play with the kids and so on.
On the other hand, the WFH model has its downside. Isolation, a lack of social interaction with colleagues, poor WH&S environment in the home, the cost of running a home office, lack of mentoring and on the job training and so on.
People able to work from home are more likely to be professionals in permanent, full-time, and better-paid work. In many ways, the WFH model has protected us from the worst health and economic impacts on workers. Except for Victoria, we have managed to control the virus and its effects in a manner that is the envy of many countries.
Half of those working from home report increased stress, depression, and self-harm. UK research suggests we may face a tsunami of musculoskeletal workplace injuries as workers make do with dining tables, coffee tables, and desks ill-designed for eight or more hours of work. These considerations raise the question of the employer’s rights and responsibilities as well as those of the employee.
From an employer’s perspective WFH raises concerns over the quality and quantity of work as well as the WH&S implications. It may be that those who are paid on a commission only basis are the preferred WFH employees.
If the WFH model becomes entrenched on a large scale, there will be economic mayhem in the cities caused by empty offices. The city shops, restaurants, coffee houses, transport, carparks etc., will all suffer. Unemployment with skyrocket especially for those not in skilled professional work. The nation cannot let that happen as thriving cities are essential to the health and wellbeing of our economy and quality of life.
And lastly, if you can readily perform your work remotely from home maybe your employer could outsource your work to a cheaper overseas worker. Be careful of what you wish for!