The dark side of teleworking

by Cameron Edmond11 Jul 2013

While teleworking has its advantages for many employees and employers alike, it can also cause isolation, decimation of the work-life balance, too many distractions and additional costs, a new report has found.

The professional and social isolation employees experience when working from home was found to be the biggest disadvantage, with 22% of respondents to the McCrindle survey indicating this as their largest issue. “I am isolated and lonely at times, and do less networking,” one respondent said.

Other side effects of isolation from co-workers can be the lack of opportunities to brainstorm ideas and solve problems as a team, resulting in an overall drop in productivity.

The primary driver of teleworking is its allowance of a work-life balance. In working from home, individuals are able to have an active role in the day-to-day running of their household and can set their own hours. However, the downside of this is employees can find themselves unable to stop working – the boundaries between work life and home life are destroyed rather than altered.

“Being on call – people seem to think you are available at any time, including your days off,” a respondent said.

Additionally, household distractions can dilute productivity and focus, with 14% indicating teleworking had resulted in too many distractions relating to household tasks.

Other factors that were less common but still raised as concerns included self-motivation, lower income, cost of resources, and the perception that work from home was not truly work.

Workplace Health and Safety (WHS) issues were also of a concern to some respondents, primarily surrounding the ergonomics of their home office. Not having a properly set up desk, or a desk at all, can result in bad posture and worse problems down the track.

Despite these issues, a number of respondents still enjoy working from home, with 1-in-5 indicating they experienced no disadvantages from doing so. As such, teleworking should not be ruled out, but both the strengths and weaknesses must be understood.


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