Working From Home – Negative Effects on Company Culture
Since 2005, the number of people who work from home has increased by a whopping 145%.
Today, the boundaries of a conventional office setup have been challenged and extended to enable more- paving the way for a rapidly increasing work from home culture worldwide.
There are several that come with the working from the home model, with the most obvious one being flexibility.
Studies show that when employees work from home for a set duration every month, they are likely to be more happy and productive. Yet, there are some limitations that come with this as well.
In this blog, we will analyze the shortcomings of the work from home phenomenon and how it affects a company’s culture.
Table of Contents:
- What Does Working From Home Essentially Mean
- How is Company Culture Important?
- Curbing of Interaction
- Latent Loyalty
- Team Motivation Becomes Harder to Instill
- Work Culture is Compromised
- Isolation Among Remote Employees
- How to Make Your Company’s Work From Home Model Better
What Is A Working From Home Model?
Instead of working from a traditional office setup, when an employee works from their place of residence, a work from home model is built. It is often referred to as telecommuting.
There are several companies today that either partially or completely work on this model and there definitely are several advantages to the same:
- The employee has flexibility. Fostering creativity requires time, and the WFH model provides that, thereby enabling productivity.
- Avoids commute. This, firstly, helps save the employee’s annual costs on commuting alone. Secondly, studies have shown that cutting down on office commutes decreases stress and increases satisfaction in employees. Satisfied employees produce better results for the company.
- Extremely beneficial for parents with children who need full- time attention.
- WFH also benefits those who are looking to build a new career path whilst earning their income. They have more time to focus on what they want to do while working from home for the company they are already employed in.
- In conventional office setups, working as a team helps foster motivation. Since you are on your own when you WFH, a great deal of self-motivation is expected of you which, again, increases productivity.
The major disadvantage, when it comes to the WFH model, is that it doesn’t in any way help foster company culture.
Before we move on to elaborate on that, we need to ask ourselves- How important is company culture?
Importance of Fostering Company Culture
The culture of a company goes beyond setting and preaching its vision, mission, and goals. How these missions and goals are visualized by every employee and how they are met, is where company culture comes in.
Setting your business’ vision and goals is something that is done as a first step to establishing your company. It is written down and reminded frequently.
The culture of your company, however, is not something you decide, set, or note down and preach. It is something that develops as you work, as the employees integrate and develop a team spirit.
If the vision and mission of a company is the starting point, then its culture is the journey that is embarked on by everyone who makes the company what it is.
It is something that is cultivated along the way rather than something that is adapted. Once this culture is formed, you then have to work vigorously to keep it fostered. Why?
Because it is this culture that will act, at the end of the day, as the driving force for your employees to visualize the growth of their company and reach that point.
Your company culture will:
- Drive them to reach goals that they see as a team for the company.
- Give the employees a sense of identity.
- Give the employees a sense of belongingness
- Instill faith in employees to work harder to cope with losses
- Have a huge impact on keeping the zest and enthusiasm of working for a collective cause, which is the growth of the company, alive.
At the end of the day, all of these points mentioned above will, in turn, foster team building, cooperation, productivity, and therefore- job satisfaction.
Fostering the company culture as a team will thus have a huge impact on job satisfaction and it is no news that increasing job satisfaction will do wonders for the growth of the business as a whole.
Now that we have understood the importance of fostering company culture. Let’s move on to elaborating on how the WFH model negatively affects it.
Curbing of Interactions
Come what may, face-to-face interaction can never be on par with telecommuting. When employees work from home, the maximum interaction they have with their co-workers is via mail and infrequent calls.
A Harvard Business Review article talked about how forming stronger bonds with co-workers is crucial for any business. Forming such bonds requires physical presence, which is ruled out through occasional interactions on screen.
Having a relationship with your coworker is crucial for the growth of a business, studies show that companies with stronger coworker bonds show signs of increased job satisfaction and therefore productivity and growth.
Sharing a strong relationship with your coworkers also helps foster team spirit, which remains blurred in the WFH model as good team-building almost always requires us to be physically present.
This interaction also plays an imperative role in developing trust among coworkers, which is another extremely important quality required to build a positive team that works towards the success of the organization, together.
This goes hand-in-hand with the need for interaction. Without active interactions, how does an employee develop a sense of loyalty, not only towards his/her coworkers but towards the business as a whole?
This loyalty can act as a driving force to do better for the growth of a company. A study by Comparably shows the importance of loyalty in work culture.
This data is taken from their website. It essentially shows that workers express a sense of loyalty towards their coworkers, relatively more than they do towards their employer/boss.
This means that they are ready to help their coworkers in times of difficulties, which could reduce stress levels, encourage team cooperation during crises, and therefore increase a sense of belonging and job satisfaction as a whole.
This sense of belonging, unfortunately, can’t be instilled successfully when employees work from home.
Team Motivation Becomes Harder to Instill
Another important aspect of company culture is being driven as a team towards working the same goal.
This is initially developed with a variety of team-building exercises, that can’t conventionally be done virtually.
Such team spirit is specifically tested in times of losses and crises faced by the business when the vision and culture of the company are prioritized and employees team up to work harder to meet the necessary goals.
Communicating virtually from remote places does little to help grow this team bond.
Dan Collns, an expert in conducting team building activities for organizations, talks about how important team spirit is for a company’s growth- in this article.
Motivation in the WFH model often depends on the worker, self-motivation is key to the successful accomplishment of this mode of work, being driven as a team is not prioritized thereby affecting company culture, which otherwise thrives on employees coming together and keeping the life of their company alive, together.
Work Culture Is Compromised
There are several reasons why a traditional office setup boosts productivity among employees. A well-organized office paves the way to a positive work ethic.
A good conventional office layout:
- Boosts the morale of employees
- Sets a professional mindset that aims to increase productivity.
- Develops a positive work ethic.
- Paves the way for an enriching environment. When you see others working hard you are motivated to do so as well.
- It encourages healthy competition.
- Fosters strong team skills.
- Promotes punctuality (As opposed to WFH which thrives on flexibility).
All of the points mentioned above not only add to positive company culture but also enhance business growth.
Studies show that maximum productivity can be achieved when employees physically work in a well-organized office setup.
With the WFH model, this work culture, along with its many benefits, remains compromised.
Isolation Among Remote Employees
Maintaining positive mental health among employees is imperative for the successful functioning of any business.
In fact, today a lot of companies hire organizational psychologists, who specialize in helping employees that find difficulties dealing with day-to-day work problems, they also help manage work stress, navigate through office politics, etc.
The Harvard Business Review conducted a study that found that remote workers feel isolated, shunned, and left out.
Be it the lack of falling into work culture, or the lack of interaction among coworkers which builds trust and a sense of belongingness– remote workers reported facing anxiety from feeling cut off.
This takes a toll on the mental health of employees who work from home and that does no good to the overall development of the company, or its culture.
How To Make Your Company’s Work From Home Model Better
Despite the negative effects remote working has on company culture, it is not impossible to make the WFH model work. As discussed at the beginning of the blog, it has its own benefits.
Here are some ways you can strengthen your WFH model, to boost interaction and productivity:
- Have virtual team-building activities. Consult team building organizers who conduct games and activities and find out if they hold online sessions.
- Try having more video conferences as opposed to instant messaging or conference calls. This will help enable trust and interaction.
- As a WFH employee, you may try using one specific location in your house as your place of work. Changing your workstation several times a day might reduce productivity by kicking in a sense of casualness. Choose a specific spot and use it as your workstation, a spot that’s preferably well-lit and ventilated. Perhaps a quiet corner by the window where you can set up a desk and work.
- Stick to a proper work schedule. It need not be the traditional 9-5, the whole point of WFH is flexibility. Use this flexibility to adapt to your own work routine but follow that every day.
In this blog, we discussed the negative effects of remote working on company culture. We started off by understanding the work from home (WFH) model and its benefits.
We then saw why company culture is important to the growth of a business.
Next, we analyzed how working from home curbs interaction, loyalty, makes building a team spirit harder, compromises work culture, and instills a sense of isolation among remote workers.
Lastly, we saw a few methods that can be used to curb these limitations.