Benefits and challenges of working from home: A hirer’s perspective
How much has your company dealt with the benefits and challenges of working from home? We show you the stats that will help you move forward with making the work-from-home setup a permanent arrangement for your business—or not.
Working from home no longer just a passing trend
Pre-pandemic, “working remotely” belonged to that category of buzzwords that spread among progressive startups and the growing freelancer industry. In the corporate world and among traditional companies, it was largely bypassed or ignored, perhaps seen as a passing trend.
But that all changed in the first quarter of 2020, when companies were forced to shut down physical offices in the interest of employee—and public safety.
In the Philippines alone, 74% of organizations required their staff to work from home when COVID-19 struck.
Work from Home Benefits and Challenges
There are many advantages to a business transitioning part or all of its operations into the WFH setup. Productivity and employee satisfaction first come to mind. But equally as numerous are the disadvantages.
We culled data from a JobStreet Survey Report conducted among candidates and hirers. Below is a list of the positive and negative effects the WFH setup, and how companies may move forward with these 2020 learnings in mind.
Adaptability has become a key hiring factor.
Thanks to stay-at-home orders by government, hirers have had to change the way they screen candidates. Shares Elmer Lapeña, HR manager of Saga Events, “In the past, knowledge, skills, and abilities were top criteria. Now, adaptability comes first, since the landscape is more VUCA (volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity of general conditions and situation) than ever. The situation is constantly changing so we try to look for candidates who cope very well.”
This adaptability also translates to being able to work initially with limited hardware and software capabilities—pre-pandemic benefits enjoyed by most employees in the office setup.
One of the work from home challenges is not having the tech that will allow an employee to conduct his work. Staff and hirers alike have had to make adjustments with how they deliver output and monitor performance outside their usual means.
This has enabled companies to explore other digital and mobile tools that can bridge the tech gap.
More candidates prefer working more hours from home.
In the same survey, 35% of candidates indicated a desire to work more hours at home. It turns out that 48% of survey respondents did end up working more hours, particularly with 39% experiencing an increase in their scope of work.
This also explains why 54% of respondents created their own separate workspaces at home—to simulate a better work environment perhaps, or to carve out a routine that would enable them to focus more on work.
Experts recommend providing guidelines to employees on how to be able to take advantage of the WFH setup, without affecting output and productivity.
More employers found increased productivity among staff.
With three out of four hirers requiring staff to work from home at the start of the pandemic, 63% of them felt that the WFH setup did not decrease their employees’ productivity.
It was not without its difficulties, however. Lapeña shares, “We have never done work from home before, so it took a while before we got the hang of it. Until now, it is a challenge for our managers in terms of monitoring and measuring productivity.”
Louraine Castillo, Training Lead for HR Corporate Training in Filinvest, wouldn’t recommend it as a full-time setup for employees. She cites home-based challenges as a deterrent for making remote work a permanent fixture in the corporate landscape. “Working from home is a bit more challenging, especially when you have other roles in the household.”
Despite the seemingly obvious cons of WFH, Lapeña thinks it will be a prerequisite from now on. “Yes we [do recommend a WFH arrangement for our staff]. As a matter of fact, we now include it in our job descriptions.”
Working from home highlights an internet connectivity issue.
In a JobStreet-partnered webinar entitled “The New Role of HR Post-COVID-19” by Coach Darwin Rivers of the Philippines HR Group, Coach Darwin emphasizes the importance of internet connectivity. “With all of us working from home, the internet is our only weapon,” he shares. Poor connectivity only adds to the difficulty in coordinating response across teams, business units, and geographies.
However, the Philippines still remains at the bottom of global rankings in terms of internet connectivity. In a Manila Bulletin article in July 2020, Senator Grace Poe cited an Ookla Speedtest Global Index report ranking the Philippines at 114th place on mobile connection speed, out of 138 countries, with a download speed of only 16.17 megabits per second (Mbps).
“These numbers are really lamentable especially today when internet connection is crucial for Filipinos working from home,” says Senator Poe, who currently chairs the Senate committee on public services.
In order for WFH to be more viable, the connectivity issue in the country must be immediately addressed and resolved.
Physical distance has brought up an increase in concern for staff well-being.
About two-thirds of respondents to the JobStreet survey showed increased concern for the well-being of their staff. Perhaps this could be viewed as a positive outcome of working from home?
Lapeña adds that while the initial knee-jerk reaction of companies was focused on financial well-being of the business, it eventually led to a focus on staff well-being. “Most companies initially went into survival mode, trying to save everything they can in terms of finances. [But it turned to] staff well-being, as the current situation really takes its toll on employees both mentally and emotionally.”
Worrying too much could have a serious ill effect on mental and emotional health of both employers and employees.
In her JobStreet article “From the HR: Protecting Our Mental Health During the COVID-19 Pandemic,” HR Shouts & Whispers Creator and Administrator Cristina Estancio-Reclamado emphasizes the importance of maintaining a “stable disposition.”
“Worrying too much has a significant effect on our immune systems,” she maintains. “We need to have a stable disposition as a barrier from COVID-19 so let’s endeavor to protect our mental health.” She shares tips like keeping to a routine, easing the pressure with fun work breaks, and limiting news intake.
Time to act on work-from-home learnings from 2020
With 30% of decision-makers recommending more hours from home in the future, it is essential that every business take stock of what this challenging period has taught us about remote work, in order to create a more valuable and enticing experience for your employees.
For more information on how to manage work from home challenges, or working during and after the pandemic, visit JobStreet’s COVID-19 Resource Hub.