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Industry Insights

Smythe: The Pros and Cons of Working Remotely

  • State: California

Since the COVID-19 pandemic began in mid-March of 2020, the landscape of employment was changed drastically and forever.

Lee Ann Smythe

Lee Ann Smythe

The transition from office to remote work was a necessity for most office-based businesses that needed to maintain their operations. Many large companies became aware of the mutual benefits of remote work for their employees and are now offering hybrid work models on a permanent basis.

There are numerous advantages for both employers and employees.

Working remotely affords greater control over when and where tasks get done, more independence and eliminates wasted time stuck in traffic while commuting, to name just a few. Some employers are able to reduce the expense of leasing office space for workers, with many of them now working remotely.

While there are significant advantages to remote work, there are also a few challenges to telecommuting for employees, but also creative ways to adapt.

For example, isolation is one of the most common downsides to working remotely because the absence of physical coworkers can lead to loneliness, despite promoting focus and productivity. Most people need social interaction, and working remotely does not provide this important connection with coworkers. The solution to this isolation is to take advantage of phone calls and visits to the office to stay connected with others.

The flexibility of working remotely can do wonders for the work-life balance but also runs the risk of leaving home-based employees always feeling “on” because work tasks are literally right around the corner or in the next room.

There are several ways to create separation between professional and private activities, such as:

  • Decorating a home office differently than the rest of the house to provide a visual cue.
  • Closing the office door when finished working for the day to resist that temptation to do just one more task.
  • Turning off electronic devices at the end of the workday.

There may still be misconceptions about working remotely and stereotypes that at-home employees may not work as hard because of the lack of formal structure. Working remotely still requires responsible time management, accountability and dealing with distractions.

Employers are still able to monitor productivity, but they now do this via technology, as it appears that the continued growth of telecommuting as a viable employment option is here to stay as we move into this new virtual age.

Questions about unwitnessed specific dates of injury while working from home will most certainly arise and lead to AOE/COE questions about whether those injuries were actually “after-hours” injuries that could fall under the going-and-coming rule. Fortunately, we at Bradford & Barthel have all of those covered and will continue to monitor and report on the evolution of remote work in the modern era.

Lee Ann Smythe is a workers’ compensation defense attorney at Bradford & Barthel’s Anaheim location. This entry from Bradford & Barthel's blog appears with permission.

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