Remote work has been a particularly hot topic lately, primarily due to the recent COVID-19 pandemic. Companies all over the world have been forced to incorporate a remote style of work, but many are now considering continuing that practice even post-pandemic. However, the coronavirus was just an unfortunate event that brought remote work into the spotlight; in reality, many people have been working remotely for years now, some of which have never even seen a regular office in their lives. OK, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Some of you might be wondering: “What does working remotely mean?” Let’s first address that before we proceed any further.
You might have heard the terms telecommuting or remote work thrown around before, but do know that they mean the same thing. Since remote work has become so widespread nowadays, even some dictionaries now include the definition of the term. So the best way to answer the question from this heading is to consult them. According to the Cambridge English Dictionary, remote working is:
“a situation in which an employee works mainly from home and communicates with the company by email and telephone.”
This definition is an excellent place to start, but remote work doesn’ have to entail working from home. Instead, you can take your job to a nearby coffee shop, a bar, a park, or even a coworking space. In the latter, you could join other digital nomads and work together!
People often assume remote workers have flexible working hours, but wrongfully so. Some remote jobs indeed allow for this commodity, but that is not always the case. Just like a regular employer could offer their workers flexible working hours at the office if they choose, a remote employer can do the same… but they don’t have to. And that’s our key point.
So remember — remote work ≠ flex work.
But if your remote job does offer you flexibility, you’ve got yourself a fantastic deal! Working a flexible number of hours a day allows you to balance your life and obligations the way you see fit.
As you have probably already noticed, working remotely has a lot of perks, so let’s check the most obvious ones out! Here are the upsides of working remotely:
Let’s jump straight to it!
One of the most apparent advantages of full-time remote jobs is that you can cut costs and save a lot of time. The premise behind that is straightforward. For starters, by working from home, you will save a lot of cash and time on commuting to the office (unless you’re lucky enough to live nearby). Also, if you were to take a job in another city or state, you would spare yourself the expenses of rent and the stress of moving house.
Some other expenses you’d likely have to cover would be meals at the office and, if you work in a white-collar corporate environment, you’d have to cough up some funds on some formal work attire. When you take a look at all these costs at the end of the day, they are quite significant. Luckily, as a remote worker, you won’t have to worry about any of these! You’ll be free to work from wherever you wish and in whatever you want to (even your pajamas!)
With the lack of commuting also comes a better and healthier sleeping schedule. Long gone will be the days of waking up at 5 a.m. just to have enough time to swallow your morning dose of caffeine while still having to run to catch your morning train. By switching to remote work, you’ll be able to get more sleep and lead a healthier life overall.
You’d be surprised how significant of a difference this point can make. Offices are excellent and all, but they aren’t exactly cozy. When you are at home in your little working corner, you can arrange it any way you want! And even if you’re a bit of a messier person and enjoy piling stuff up and leaving it everywhere, at home, you can do that! You won’t return to your cubicle the following day just to find that someone has tidied up your perfect chaos.
If you ever felt like your eyelids were too heavy and knew all you needed was a power nap to recharge your batteries but had nowhere to do it at the office, you’re not alone! But when working from home, nobody will be around to monitor your breaks or tell you how to spend them. Do you want to go out for a quick walk in the park? No problem. What about a power nap? Go ahead! Take a quick shower or a bubble bath? People have done crazier things at home, we’ve heard.
This kind of flexibility with your breaks feel like a godsend for many, so don’t underestimate the importance of this benefit!
At the office, myriad things can interrupt you — unplanned business meetings, noisy colleagues chatting in the cubicle next to you, people furiously typing on their keyboards, etc. At times, these things can annoy even people with nerves of steel.
When working remotely, though, you are in full control of your environment and can more easily rid yourself of such nuisances. A survey by CoSo Cloud found that 77% of respondents reported significantly increased productivity levels due to fewer interruptions while working remotely. Oh, and even if you don’t like working in silence, you could put on some relaxing music on speakers to help you focus.
Working remotely requires you to adjust to a different type of communication, which is a skill in and of itself. Most of the coordination and logistics between remote teams will be done over email or chat programs like Slack or other collaboration tools. That means you will have to learn to be concise but detailed in your interactions with your colleagues. Don’t let that frighten you — this skill is not hard to learn, but it will help you a ton both in your current and future career.
This benefit is focused on all the job seekers out there, but it’s an important one nonetheless. The popularity of remote work has increased by a whopping 159% since 2005, according to FlexJobs. Also, more and more companies are adopting remote work options, particularly nowadays, in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, we can safely assume that the popularity of working from home is only going to keep growing. If you ask us, you would be wise to remain on the lookout for exciting new opportunities in the remote working world!
As fantastic as working from the comfort of your home sounds, there are some downsides to this kind of arrangement. We’d be remiss not to mention both sides of the coin. Here are some notable disadvantages to working remotely:
Let’s immediately get to it!
The fact that you’ll be virtually unsupervised means you will have to be self-disciplined when it comes to performing your job tasks. If you find yourself procrastinating a lot or your mind tends to wander off, remote work might prove challenging for you. After all, you won’t have your boss or colleagues around to remind you of your deadlines and to pick up the pace.
Because you will be sitting at home all day at your computer, you will have no physical activity. When commuting to an office, you at least get some walking in, which is not there when working from home. This downside can be detrimental to your health unless you make up for the lack of physical exercise on the side. However, you can easily remedy that by going to the gym or playing some sports with your friends in the afternoon, for example.
If you are a social butterfly, don’t ever try working remotely. People who need face-to-face interaction with others will hate it. This type of deep work can get emotionally draining at times, even for regular folk, let alone extroverts.
Yes, you will often have video calls or such, so you will “see” people occasionally. But that isn’t the same as being able to chit-chat with your colleague by the water cooler or the coffee machine at the office. And all of those who say “You can message them at any time” obviously don’t know how extroverted minds work — that won’t suffice.
Some remote-based companies have begun to organize remote team company retreats for their workers to help combat this issue. So if you are not an extreme extrovert, that might help you cope with the psychological challenges of working from home.
A frequent issue that comes up with remote workers is differences in time zones between teams. That problem most often arises because employers often hire a remote workforce abroad when they’re looking to cut costs. When that happens, the differences in time zones can prove extremely tedious or lead to unfavorable working hours.
Luckily, that is becoming less of a problem by the day since more and more companies are becoming open to hiring remote workers, even on the local level. However, the market is still limited, so you might still run into this issue.
We know we said that working from home frees you from a lot of office-based distractions, but that doesn’t mean the home environment doesn’t have any. As a matter of fact, there are plenty of factors that could affect your performance.
Whether it’s having your children interrupt you in the middle of a business meeting, the neighbor suddenly deciding it’s the perfect time to start renovating his home, or your cat deciding that the most comfortable place for her to lie down is over your keyboard, your home is no stranger to interruptions.
However, when working from home, you are more in control of your surroundings, so these issues are easier to prevent.
When remote workers are faced with a technical issue like a power cut or their computers breaking down, it’s much more challenging to remedy the situation. If you were at an office, you’d have an IT technician readily available to help you. But at home, you’ll be left to your own devices. Because of that, these kinds of unfortunate circumstances can set your progress back significantly.
When it comes to communication, it too can suffer when working from home. That particularly applies to people not used to this kind of dynamic. Say you need some information quickly, but your coworker is not responding to your messages or emails? What do you do? You pray to God they respond soon because there’s nothing you can do. If you were at the office, you’d visit them personally or ask around if you couldn’t find them. But when working from home, you’re left to your own accords to improvise.
Networking is also a challenge for remote workers because everything they do is over the computer screen. Without many in-person meetups, they have a harder time making business connections with other professionals. However, this point might not be as detrimental to some professions as it is to others; it all depends on the nature of your work.
Luckily, there are a few ways to compensate for that. We live in the day and age of social networks, where people can meet like-minded individuals from across the globe. So the best way to make up for the lack of interpersonal connections is to look for them online. Platforms such as LinkedIn are an excellent way to grow your professional network, particularly if you are a remote worker.
As you have hopefully seen from our article, there are plenty of arguments both in favor and against remote work. But is working from home a positive or a negative thing? There is no single correct answer to that — it all depends on the individual. Some people will prosper in a remote environment, while others might lose their minds. One thing is for sure, though — the market for this type of work is still growing, and more and more employees will be working from home in the years to come. So if you’re looking to consider switching to a remote position or allowing your employees some remote time, check out our article on how to prepare for remote work. We’re sure you’ll find it helpful!
What do you think? Will remote work make office jobs obsolete, or will it just help improve it? Let us know your thoughts by contacting us or writing to us on social media! We’d love to hear from you.
Until next time!