With half of the nation’s workforce telecommuting and working from home, what is the biggest challenge? The biggest challenge for remote workers is poor working conditions at home. As much as the businesses are reveling in the ability of their workforce to work from home, cutting costs of doing business immensely, the workers are not faring as well as you might think, due to inadequacies they face attempting to work in the same place where they live.
Employers cannot just turn a blind eye to these poor working conditions at home. While this may be an acceptable condition in an emergent situation, like in response to a pandemic, in the long run, it is unsustainable unless there are changes significant enough to relieve the pressure from those who have no choice but to telecommute and work from home.
While you may have enough physical space to have an office at home, many of your telecommuting workforce does not. 42% are working at their kitchen or dining table. Some are lucky to have a desk in the corner of the bedroom or living room or have been able to convert a small closet into an office, but many are working from the sofa, coffee table, beds, and 3% can be found working in the bathroom.
Not having the adequate space to create a functional at-home office to work from is a growing concern.
While there are clearly benefits of working from home as the pandemic lingers on, the lives of these workers who have issues with their lack of adequate home office space will continue to deteriorate. Their performance numbers will wane, and your overall production will decline.
Lack of Space
77% of those working from home report that the biggest thing they struggle with is feeling as though they do not have the adequate space to maintain high production standards at home and they fear their productivity will suffer for it. This is the weakest link in the chain.
Granted, the other 23% of the workforce telecommuting are more than happy with their home offices and content to continue to do so when the COVID restrictions are lifted.
So how can we help these displaced workers relieve some of the pressure of inadequate workspace in the home?
Keep in mind that many workers often have homes with a very small footprint. There is little square footage to accommodate an effective office setup, even if the employer supplied everything they needed. Even so, there are remote workers who have managed to create effective workspaces even in the smallest accommodations.
Workers with Families
Those who suffer the most are those with families at home. Especially now, when daycare is unavailable and many schools are shut down, so parents must juggle their work with kids who are attending school from home as well. It is almost an impossible juggling act, which is even more complicated for single parents trying to manage families, their homes, and work all in the same space.
They Need Equipment or Services
Employers would gladly help out with bringing an employee’s tech up to standard so that they can work better from home. But it is up to the employee to reach out to the employer and let them know what they need at home, what would make their home-work-life more effective.
Employers would be well-advised to ask their teleworking employees if there is anything, they need that would increase their productivity at home.
While Internet access is not a problem for most employees, there are those who live in remote rural areas with little or no Internet access. This may be a huge challenge for these people. Satellite Internet may be available, but note that most of these services are limited.
During the lockdown, Churches are answering the call by allowing people to park in their otherwise empty parking lots to use their Wi-Fi for children to attend their schools virtually, and to allow other Internet-challenged workers to connect to their offices. And while coffee shops may be closed, many of them are continuing to provide Wi-Fi as accessible from the parking lot as well. After all, we are all doing the best we can in these difficult times.
Consider a Coworking Space
A coworking space can help to solve the issues of poor working conditions at home, as they can provide all the technical resources necessary to conduct your work remotely. Coworking spaces can be found in most communities where members pay a reasonable membership fee to access the space and its services which include Internet access, printers, and workstations. A savvy employer would be ahead of the game by providing such a space for their telecommuters and the community if there isn’t one available.
Apartment buildings are even starting to set aside space to provide co-working space for their renters.
In any case, it is vitally important that remote workers solve any issues they have with their workspace issues to continue to survive and potentially thrive while working from home.
Remember, if you are teleworking and having a tough time of it, please do not be shy about reaching out to your employer. You might be surprised at what lengths your employer will go through to help ease your stress of working from home.