SURVEY SAYS: Negatives of Working From Home Revisited

NewsDash readers share the negatives of their experience working from home.

More than three years ago, I asked NewsDash readers what they thought would be the negatives if they worked from home all the time. Now that most readers have experienced working from home full-time, last week, I re-asked the question.

While a comparison between the two surveys is not 100% accurate since it cannot be confirmed that all people who responded three years ago also responded this year, and more selections were added to this year’s survey, still the comparison reveals the difference in actual experience versus perception.

More than half (55.8%) of responding readers work in a plan sponsor role, 25.6% are recordkeepers/TPAs/investment consultants, 13.9% are advisers/consultants, 2.3% are attorneys and another 2.3% are CPAs.

The top negative selected by NewsDash readers this year was the same as in 2017—lack of social interaction with coworkers (72.1% in 2020 vs. 62% in 2017). “Not moving enough because you’re stuck at your desk” was the second most selected negative in 2020 (53.5%). “Lack of connection with co-workers,” at 57%, ranked second in 2017, but was the third most selected choice in 2020 (48.8%).

Other negatives on the list ranked as follows:

  • Working more because access to work is always there – 39.5%
  • Lack of social interactions (not just with coworkers) – 32.6%
  • Not meeting new co-workers – 32.6%
  • Lack of separation between work and home – 30.2%
  • Feeling there’s no excuse to not work when sick (unless severely sick) – 20.9%
  • Lack of access to office tools/technology – 20.9%
  • The feeling of not knowing what is going on in the company – 18.6%
  • Eating more because there’s easy access to food – 18.6%
  • Temptation to do other things such as chores (or reading or watching television) – 16.3%
  • Interruptions from neighbors, children or pets – 7%
  • Difficulty managing staff – 7%
  • Too quiet – 4.6%

Readers who left comments noted some of the pluses of working from home, with time saved on commuting a top mention. Zoom meeting fatigue, loneliness and difficulty training employees were mentioned as other negatives. How one adjusts the home work space and developing discipline are ways to mitigate the negatives, according to a couple of readers. Editor’s Choice goes to the reader who said: “I no longer work from home, I live at work.”

Thanks so much to all who responded to the survey!


I miss the cafeteria in the office.

Love the dress code!

I’ve been working from home for over 18 years, it takes a period of adjustment, but is the best thing ever. No commutes or sitting in traffic, cheaper in many ways, getting to wear really comfortable clothes, being able to exercise more often, easy to concentrate. It’s all about creating the right work space. I strongly believe that working from home forces you to connect with other co-workers more often, you depend on the people that work in the office to be successful, be aware of the resources that you have. Not every meeting has to be or should be via video, that is exhausting and not really good for the human brain

Impromptu happy hours are not happening now. They were good for some stress relieving laughter with co-workers.

At least it’s good for my skittish cat; she prefers regular interaction and has become nicer to me!

I’ve had the best work-life balance than I ever have while working at home since COVID-19 shook things up. Also, I’m finding that I am more focused and productive at home. Our work office is an open office environment, and I have my own den/office at home, so perhaps a big part of it.

Loving it.

How about Zoom meeting fatigue? I’m tired of looking at people in little boxes!

I’ve been telecommuting full time for over a decade. While there are negatives, the positives far outweigh them. No commuting; no work clothes; lunch with my husband every day; multi-tasking that includes household chores instead of coffee pot conversations. No amount of salary increase could entice me to return to commuting to work in an office environment!

While everyone is working from home, I am enjoying it (now that I’ve found a routine). I wouldn’t want to continue once everyone returns from the office though.

I love WFH & am able to get more done in a shorter amount of time compared to being in the office (no “drive by chatters” at home!). also enjoy being able to eat my lunch or take a break without someone coming over to ask me about their 401k/Rx/whatever.

I feel that it is hard to recreate the company energy working from home. It is also more difficult to collaborate with other teams in an ad-hoc fashion since you now have to schedule video calls rather than just walk over and discuss.

It’s lonely!

I no longer work from home, I live at work.

I think it is an excellent model with more positives than negatives, but it does require focus and discipline to avoid the pitfalls listed above.

I never thought I would like it…but I love it! I exercise more, eat better, and I am saving money (my apologies to Starbucks for any role I may have played in dragging down their earnings.) I do miss spontaneous conversations and shared meals. Hoping this change is more permanent!

Also makes training difficult.

On the whole, I like it. My commute is 55 miles each way. I don’t miss the traffic. I get more exercise now with the spare time I have. I have also been able to spend more time with family. I do miss the interaction with my team.

Still don’t miss the drive time to work.

The desk in my home office is too close to the refrigerator and pantry…. but, the commute to the office is great!

Personally, it’s turned out to be a lot easier and more efficient than I thought it would be. From the firm’s perspective, there’s an inevitable loss of common culture, especially for new hires.

Work feels never-ending at home.

I’ve worked from home since 2001 and it’s nice to have other people doing the same now – my dogs are not the only ones barking and I enjoy it when the little kids make an appearance on Zoom!

We have good connection within our team – it’s the casual hallway interactions with those outside our team that I miss the most.

The longer I work from home, the more hours I seem to work each day. I feel more tied to my desk at home and spend hours on Zoom calls. On the positive side, I don’t have a 2.5 hour daily roundtrip commute and am saving money on gas, tolls and wear and tear on my vehicle.

Avoiding the commute is great, but other than that, working from home is not as efficient and customer service is not as good. When everyone abruptly started working from home, we didn’t have good processes in place (and still don’t) as to how to handle the paper files that multiple employees need to access. Not everything is available electronically and making it all available electronically requires extra steps, so it is a challenge when someone else has the file you need or when you need to make something available to someone else.

Tired of it constantly. It would be good part of the time but not like this.

A coworker summed it all up – When you take away all the “things” we get from being in the building together, all that’s left is the work. And for some people, that’s just not enough.

Because we left the office thinking it would be for a short time, and we are not allowed to go back, I do not have access to hard copy binders of information that is helpful in my job….trying to remember those things in my brain and it can’t handle it…. 🙁

I have long appreciated/valued the increased productivity with working from home. However, what the pandemic has brought home to me is that (a) everyone isn’t able to do so effectively, and that (b) it’s one thing to work from home when everyone else is at work, and something else altogether when EVERYONE is at home. Everything seems to take longer, and be less well done. I’m not anxious to go back to the office, but I’ll be relieved when everybody else is!


NOTE: Responses reflect the opinions of individual readers and not necessarily the stance of Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS) or its affiliates.