If you’re reading this, you probably want to what does WFH means, and how it can be used to benefit your business. WFH stands for Working from home and it isn’t anything new, with professions such as carpentry and weaving having a long history in the home hundreds of years into the past. That changed with the advent of machinery and heavy equipment around the turn of the 1800s with the Industrial Revolution taking swing and such jobs moving towards centralised locations like offices and factories – a trend which has continued on in the years since. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic however, more and more workers are working from home and businesses are considering new employment models and how they can use remote working to their advantage.
What is the WFH Model?
Work from home is exactly what it says on the tin, working in your own home. It’s not possible in every situation of course, but in more and more jobs that are digitally-based or text based such as writing or programming there has been a big shift with employees preferring to work from their own homes. So, the question you might be asking yourself is should I consider this for my business and what are the pros and cons of doing so?
Working from home requires you to be on the ball with your employees, making sure they know what they’re doing and how to do it. It’s not something that just any organisation can shift into overnight, however a slow process of shifting may be more advantageous than the world-tilting changes that came with the COVID-19 restrictions and lockdowns. In the UK especially, with cases currently on the rise again and the future uncertain it might be something to prepare for just in case the worst comes to pass.
How the WFH Model Benefits You
There are some downsides of course, but let’s talk about the positives first. Working from home of course makes an office and all of the overheads that come with it unnecessary, and can have a great impact on the way your business runs.
- Employee Morale – Everyone knows that a happy employee is a productive employee. Giving employees their own space and the flexibility to work on their own schedule rather than a nine to five grind is a great boost to morale and therefore productivity. Of course, you have to balance that flexibility with oversight while being careful not to overreach and make your employees feel like they are being monitored too much.
- Lack of Overheads – There’s the issue of office rent and overheads to pay (assuming you don’t own your building), but there’s the factor of equipment too. In the case of less intensive digital jobs you don’t really need a high-powered computer to do the work, thus businesses can save a lot by having their employees simply use their own machines. While this may make organisation of files and data difficult, cloud-based services such as Google SQL or IBM Db2 can assist by making co-operation simpler.
- Fewer In-Betweeners – Offices need cleaning, they need managers to monitor employees and the amount of employees that can be supervised is often dependent on the structure – the size of the rooms, blind spots etc. With digital monitoring becoming easier, one manager can co-ordinate many more employees digitally than could ever fit into a regular, offline office, especially since a hands-off approach is seen to be more employee friendly. Fewer employees doing go-betweens and side tasks means more revenue generated per person overall.
- Hiring Flexibility – Finding the best workers to fill particular roles can be challenging, especially when people are rooted in one place and are reluctant to move because of family ties, friends etc. In the case of the WFH model, your business has the flexibility to hire from John O’Groats to Land’s End, a sure fire recipe for getting more talent into your workforce.
The Other End of the Stick
Working from home doesn’t come without its flaws, not least of which is the costs associated with shifting from the existing office framework. However, as recent years have shown it is sometimes necessary, and with more and more of the workforce wanting to remain working from home after the pandemic, due to concerns about unsafe workplaces or accessibility issues. Below are a few drawbacks to the WFH model:
- Existing Infrastructure – It’s no secret that businesses like doing things the way they do them, and even suggestions that might lead to improvement are often forgotten if they would be a challenge to implement. Altering your organisation to the WFH model means changing the way you do things, the way your assets are organised and how you contact your employees. It’s a challenge for anyone, let alone those who prefer to leave things as they are.
- Communication Delays – When you’re in an office with someone and you need to talk to them you can simply pop your head through the door and see if they’re available to chat. That’s not something you can do with a WFH organisation, since your employees might physically be miles away – it’s not exactly feasible to travel to other people’s homes every time you need to talk to them! While this can be mitigated with employee calls and chat rooms, some people find these overbearing and morale can suffer as a result.
The WFH model isn’t something you can just rush into, and it’s not a model that just anyone can follow successfully. Worries about worker coordination and communication have kept a lot of jobs confined into offices for decades, but with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic workers have seen what is possible and they don’t want to go back. In 2020 we boldly went where no-one had gone before, and people liked what they found there.