A man is sat in his home office at a desk working from a laptop computer with a Brother laser printer alongside him. In the background of the remote hybrid office scene is a woman sat on a brown sofa.

Remote working pros and cons: The benefits and challenges of the New Normal

The way we work has undergone a major transformation. The number of people now working from home part-time or full-time has doubled, creating a whole new working world for many.

We surveyed SMB professionals across Europe about their experiences of home-office-working before and during the pandemic, and they shared with us the benefits and challenges of hybrid working in the ‘new normal’.

The benefits of less commuting

49% of respondents said that the reduction in time and money spent commuting was the biggest positive impact on their work.1

Certainly, reduced levels of commuting save people several hours a week. It can also have a positive impact on people's wellbeing, given that commuting can be stressful and tiring.2

In addition to the fact that reduced levels of commuting cut the likelihood of catching infectious illnesses, recent research from London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine suggests that hundreds of additional lives may have been saved across Europe thanks to air quality improvements during Covid lockdowns.6

Improved work-life balance

In our survey, 30% of respondents said that the improvement in work-life balance was one of the big pluses of working from home.1

The same number also said that they enjoyed the lifestyle benefits of flexible working hours.1 After all, having greater discretion to organise their own working schedules gives people extra flexibility during the working day that, for example, enables them to do errands or the school run.2

But the benefits of working from home aren't just enjoyed by employees.

A better work-life balance is likely to increase employee engagement and loyalty, which reduces staff turnover and increases productivity and innovation.2 This is reflected in our survey, where a quarter of respondents reported an increase in their productivity.

However, while there are undoubted benefits of working from home, it also creates challenges - for both employers and employees.

What is the new normal? The blurring of work-life boundaries

One of the key issues of working remotely is that it sometimes becomes hard to distinguish between 'working from home' and 'living in the office'. An EU survey in 2020 found that that 28% of those working from home were working in their free time every day or several times a week, compared to 8% of office workers.3

Our survey also revealed that the nature of working and living in the same space brings its own challenges. 35% of respondents reported the blurring of boundaries between work and home life, with 36% working longer days due to 'project creep' into personal time.1

The danger here is that - if left unchecked - businesses can unwittingly run into potential occupational safety and health issues.

In January 2021, the European Parliament passed a resolution on the Right to Disconnect - a worker’s right to disengage from work and work-related communications, such as emails, during non-work hours. Already, Belgium, Spain, France, Italy and Ireland are amongst those countries that have already passed legislation on individuals’ right to disconnect.

The risk of loneliness

The biggest challenge facing those that work from home is loneliness.4

Feeling isolated can have serious impact on people’s emotional health, their productivity, and team performance.4 In our survey, 44% of respondents told us that that the lack of interaction with colleagues and clients was the biggest negative impact of working from home.1

What is clear is that businesses must work hard to support their employees wherever possible to mitigate potentially negative impacts.

Candidates looking for flexibility

Those yearning for 'old normal' work patterns to return may be disappointed as hybrid working looks likely to be a permanent shift in behaviour. Flexible working has become a major factor in people's choice of employer, with 40% of job candidates saying that flexibility is now one of their top three factors when making career decisions.5 This creates major challenges for those making IT decisions.

Making decentralised IT easier

Managing devices in a multitude of locations makes it easy to overlook the endpoint security protocols in place in an office environment. It also makes managing costs and monitoring usage extremely difficult.

One solution to that problem is a Managed Print Services programme that enables you to create greater uniformity and control across the equipment your people use. Not only does it provide the reassurance of robust network, device and document security, it gives you the ability to decentralise your office technology while maintaining visibility of costs, remote monitoring and management - wherever those devices are located.



1.    Brother's New Normal Survey -  November 2021: sample of 936 SMB professionals across Europe
2.     European Agency for Safety and Health at Work - "Teleworking during the COVID-19 pandemic: risks and prevention strategies" February 2021
3.    Eurofound: "Industrial relations: Right to Disconnect in the 27 EU Member States April 2020
4.    Buffer: "The 2020 State of Remote Work" / fitforworksg.com: "4 Ways to Fight the Loneliness of Working From Home)
5.    BusinessNewsDaily.com: "Want Top Talent? Give Employees the Flexibility They Seek" - November 2021
6.    Guardian.com: "Better air in lockdown may have saved hundreds of lives in Europe, study finds" - 26th January 2022

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