Prof. Bülent Dilmaç, Lecturer at the Psychological Counselling and Guidance Department, Necmettin Erbakan University
The outbreak has raised questions about the working conditions of the future and the efficiency of the home office model.
First appearing in Wuhan, China in January 2020 and spreading all over the world in a very short amount of time, the coronavirus pandemic has brought many global changes with it. As a part of the fight against the coronavirus, states all around the world have declared lockdowns and restrictions along with many other measures. And numerous companies have switched to the home office working style to keep up with these measures. This sudden change in the working system caused companies especially with weaker infrastructures to struggle. However, other companies have taken steps to strengthen their technological infrastructures and increase the skills and knowledge of their employees in this regard. The outbreak has raised questions about the working conditions of the future and the efficiency of the home office model.
We Need to Address Both Weaknesses and Strengths of the Home Office System
We need to address both the strengths and weaknesses of the home office system as we evaluate it. The home office system relieves the companies from the troubles of renting offices and organising a physical environment. It is also convenient with flexible working hours and relaxed working conditions in the house environment. The CEOs of some companies have considered these advantages and declared that they will continue to work from home. We can easily say that many companies will opt for the home office system in the near future.
However, this is not to say that the home office is entirely free from challenges and disadvantages. Some employees may have difficulties in achieving self-discipline while working from their homes, and this can reduce their efficiency. There is also the difficulty of conducting joint projects, achieving cooperation, and exchanging ideas. Even though online platforms come to our aid in this regard, the quality of cooperation achieved through physical contact by sitting around the same table will be much higher.
Remote Working Reduces the Socialisation Needs of the Individuals
Working environments, offices, and companies offer employees a physical space where they can form emotional bonds, develop friendships, and sometimes receive psychological support while working. But the home office system cannot give humans one of their basic needs: socialisation. People who fail to fulfil this need turn to social media platforms, whose reliability and sincerity is very much questionable, and form unsatisfying social relationships. And the research supports people’s increased use of social media during the pandemic period. Excessive use of social media can lead to feelings of more loneliness and depression.
Another point to consider is the reflection of home office conditions on family relations. The study I conducted with my research team showed that working at home negatively affects happiness in marriage. Frequent contact with spouses and children and insufficient physical space while working can lead to a stressful home environment.
While addressing the strengths and weaknesses of home office conditions, it may be more suitable for companies to adopt partially flexible working systems rather than the full-time home office system both for the benefit of the company and the mental health of the employees.