Remote work – advantages and disadvantages
The growing popularity of remote work
As company owners are looking for new ways of developing their businesses and employees are open for new opportunities, remote work is growing in popularity. More and more companies allow for a few days of working from home per week and some, like for instance GitLab, have already gone fully remote. The trend is not about to stop in the foreseeable future. In fact, the popularity of remote work will still be on the rise, researchers say. According to a survey conducted by the Economist, by the year 2035, there could be one billion remote workers. The numbers are impressive. For businesses, remote work has a lot of benefits, such as finding skilful employees outside the place the company is based in or cutting expenses, to mention just a few. Is remote work equally beneficial for employees? Let’s take a look at some advantages and weigh them against the disadvantages, as it’s hard to deny there are a few.
Why is it worth it?
Flexible working hours
The most frequently stated reason why people want to work remotely is that it usually comes with the flexibility of working time. This, in turn, increases employee happiness and job satisfaction. Researchers suggest that flexible working hours work wonders for employee productivity. Not everyone is productive between 9-5 every day. Some people much prefer starting work earlier, while others are the most productive later in the afternoon. When working remotely, you’re not limited by the office opening hours. Thanks to that, you can arrange your schedule in a way that lets use make the most of your productivity peak.
Avoiding long commute
Not having to commute every day has two big advantages – it saves time and money (and potentially lots of frustrations as well). In bigger cities, the commute might be particularly time-consuming and you could probably find a hundred better ways to spend the time you waste on public transport or in traffic jams. Working remotely also gives you the opportunity to work for a companies which are located far from where you live. It’s probably happened to you that you’ve come across a perfect job offer and couldn’t apply because the company was in a different city and you didn’t want to waste time on the commute. Remote work would be the solution to this problem.
Opportunities to travel
Since more and more people today choose nomadic lifestyle, the flexibility that remote work gives is a big plus. It allows to combine work with traveling and gives the freedom to choose the place to live and change it whenever you want. And that’s an extremely convenient solution for all those who don’t want to give up traveling to have a 9-5 job in the office.
Working remotely is said to reduce work-related stress in many ways. First of all, many people feel much more comfortable in a non-office environment where they have the feeling of privacy. The convenience this entails increases their productivity and lowers the level of stress. Secondly, remote workers are not exposed to all the distractions that come with working in the office and therefore find it easier to focus and stay productive for longer. Having to commute is another stressful element that remote workers just don’t experience. Sounds like a lot less stress, doesn’t it?
Reduced work-related costs
Reducing work-related expenses is a benefit for both the employer and the employee. The employee certainly saves up on the cost of transportation and it might be quite a lot of money, especially if you have to commute to a different city. Plus the cost of parking and gas, which altogether adds up to quite an amount of money which stays in your pocket. But it’s not all. If you work in the office, you certainly eat out more and order food more often, because you didn’t have time to prepare it yourself. Once you start working remotely, you can also count on savings on food and clothing.
But it’s not all roses
Struggling with communication
A big advantage of an office environment is certainly direct communication. It’s hard to deny that it’s just quicker to talk something over face-to-face. If you have all your colleagues in the same office, it’s usually a matter of having a quick chat to clear things up. On top of that, when you see someone when talking to them, it’s also easier to decipher the body language and that’s a big part of how people communicate. So direct communication potentially means fewer misunderstandings. What can help overcome the problem to some extent is real-time communication via collaboration tools, such as HeySpace, which make it much easier and quicker to communicate with colleagues, also those who work remotely.
There are many people who prefer being by themselves and for them, working remotely and not having direct contact with their colleagues in the office is not a problem. However, there are probably much more of those who appreciate the social aspects of the office environment. Remote workers usually spend a lot of time by themselves and over time, they might find themselves feel lonely. Even if they socialise with friends, it’s certainly with less frequency than if they worked in the office. And in fact, daily interactions with colleagues can have a positive influence on the atmosphere in the team, therefore increasing job satisfaction.
If you work in the office, you certainly find it much easier to keep the work-life balance. For remote workers, it’s very difficult to separate the working time from the personal time. That’s why, if they work from home, which is often the case, they never actually leave their working space and are therefore prone to overworking. As it’s difficult to clearly state when work ends, they often work longer than they should just to finish something and be able to show the results.
Suspicion of non-productivity
When you are not physically in the office, it’s more difficult for your supervisor to control your working time. That’s why they might get suspicious about your level of productivity. And there are days when even though you worked hard the whole day, you can’t really show impressive results. This might get you feel guilty of not being productive enough, which would probably not happen if you worked in the office and your supervisor could actually see you’ve not been wasting time.
Risk of distraction
For many people, it’s just more difficult to stay productive outside the office. If you work at home, there are a thousand things you need to do while working. On top of that, when your family knows you’re at home, they might not understand you shouldn’t be interrupted. If you go to a café or a co-working space, there are many distractions which make it difficult to really focus and work. Office environment is often more predictable and therefore fewer things interrupt your productivity, so it might be a safer solution.
Have you tried remote work? Or are you willing to try it? Share your experience!