The first quarter of 2020 ushered in a new trend some were proud they had already gotten used to; remote working.
While some felt more relieved to have a workstation right in the comforts of their home, others probably still prefer the professional and formal setting an office provides.
Regardless of how popular or unpopular remote work is amongst professionals, it’s here to stay.
In the first quarter of the year, CNBC, amongst other news outlets, reported that 36.2 million Americans would be working remotely by 2025.
Various digital software is revolutionizing the way we think about work.
However, the question still remains, would it be more beneficial or challenging to pursue the remote work policy?
I recently asked a few experts turned friends on their views on the subject. This is what they had to say about the benefits and challenges of remote working.
- More flexibility
- Increased autonomy
- High productivity
- Enhanced work-life balance
- Less staff turnover
- Less need for an office space
- Better motivation
- Saves costs
- Can get boring
- Harder to stay motivated
- Watered-down collaboration
- Strain on work teams and departments
- More intense work situations
Major benefits to remote working
1. No commuting
When you have to show up at the office every day to earn daily rates, then there’s no other choice than to commute at least five times a week.
The stress of traveling to and from work is probably the most stressful part of most people’s day. This is why the idea of canceling all that hassle is one of the major benefits of remote working.
Plus, it’s not just about going to work and coming back every day.
There are also financial, environmental, security, and even health benefits attached. Living in uncertain times like this, working from home is the best way to avoid viruses and communicable or stress-related diseases.
Additionally, picking out professional clothes, having them washed or possibly dry-cleaned all takes money.
Plus, there’s no need to worry about how late or early you’ll be at work. You could practically sit by your workstation without brushing or bathing, and no one would know (not that I am encouraging that).
So, rather than using about an hour or two to get to work, those hours could productively be used to get more work done.
As for the environmental factors, the benefit is simple. When 70% of the population are driving to work, possibly at the same time, all those gas emissions are hazardous to the environment.
However, the environment has probably heaved a loud sound of relief for the past two years as fewer people need to commute to work and back.
The theme there’s the security factor, which generally reduces any mishaps or accidents from happening during rush hours to and from work.
All in all, with reduced commuting, workers can enjoy more time to themselves, save more on gas or bus/taxi/train station fares, and won’t have to deal with the security or health risks that come with commuting every day.
2. Better productivity
It may sound unreal, but working from home actually boosts productivity.
This means that you are most likely to do more when working remotely than at the office.
There are many reasons for this, but the major one is just fewer distractions.
If you’re working remotely, co-workers or superiors are less likely to walk up to your desk simply to discuss office gossip.
That may sound stereotypical, but it's undeniably true.
We tend to gather around, gist, make jokes, and yes, gossip just to pass time when at work. This is cut down to a T when working at home.
It’s just you and your computer, except, of course, there are some little happy helpers at home adamant about helping ‘mommy or daddy’ with their work.
More importantly, regular office hours are not in play anymore, which means you choose when to work depending on how motivated or determined you are.
For example, if you’re not a morning person, completing a task in the afternoon or maybe even later at night may be more convenient depending on the deadline.
Most employers won’t mind the shuffled-up work hours, especially if you are turning in work on time.
Research shows that contrary to what employers thought, productivity has not waned after the work from the home shift. It has either remained the same or increased.
3. A healthier lifestyle
Eating and living healthy is quite challenging when you’re an office worker.
The whole ritual of waking up, getting dressed, and heading out sometimes without a bite to eat is unhealthy.
The truth is when at work, it’s hard to think of the right diet and easier to go for junk food or snacks.
The energy levels you expend make the body feel hungrier faster and crave energy-giving foods.
However, you can be more intentional when working from home.
When discipline and dedication are in play, rationing food sizes, and sticking to a diet may be easier from home than at work.
There’s more time to cook nutritious meals, try new healthy recipes, and even rest in between to avoid stress.
4. The work-life balance
When you have a family, it’s hard to leave for work every day.
Most people just want to stay at home on some days and play, bond, and just be more present.
That cannot happen when you’re leaving two hours before 9 just to get to work on time and returning when it’s already dark.
Though it may be challenging to separate work from leisure, drawing up a schedule could help balance work and family/social life.
When people are not commuting to work, or spending long hours in their offices, that provides extra time for personal time.
If you work smart and efficiently, you may have some extra hours to spend quality time with family and friends.
This new dynamic may even help boost job satisfaction. Most people get drained, tired, or unmotivated simply because their work-life is suffering.
So, when there’s enough time to rest, bond, play, and laugh, that makes things a lot easier and even enjoyable.
5. It’s convenient
Going to work in your pajamas, slippers, or comfort clothes is an absolute no-no. But guess what makes all these and more possible? Remote work.
With digital workspaces and video-conferencing that doesn't always require workers to turn on their cameras, convenience cannot be over-emphasized.
You could join a meeting five minutes after you wake up, and go back to bed right after. Doing that in office space wouldn’t be professional, plus it would tank morale.
While this might seem like lazy behavior to some, it may actually boost efficiency. Assuming that remote workers are lazy or less productive is just one of the many myths about remote working.
The 9-5 office hours have had tired, unprepared, and mentally drained people head to work anyway.
But maybe if some people had that extra 30 minutes or hour to rest, or maybe even have a proper breakfast, that could improve efficiency.
Additionally, attending workshops or compulsory events has never been easier. From the comforts of any room including the kitchen, you simply have to remain active online.
Plus, most sponsors provide recorded sessions to make up for any network issues and the likes.
1. Sick days
Almost every company has a stay-at-home-when-sick policy, especially when it’s flu-related. The reason is simple.
It’s hard to work efficiently when sick. However, how are such boundaries redrawn when you’re already at home? The sick day's people have taken since the pandemic started have quickly declined.
Many may still work as long as they feel fine enough to do so.
However, this may be counter-productive. When employees are sick, they need the time off to recuperate and hopefully come back stronger.
That may not be the case if workers feel obligated to work at all times since they are already at home.
2. Reduced team spirit
When away from the buzz and fast-paced nature of a workstation, it’s possible to start missing it. However, it’s not the walls, chairs, or desks you miss, but the people in it.
When you have so much peace and quiet it’s almost not peaceful, then maybe the rowdy, diverse team makes you feel more efficient and professional.
Once you take away that cheeriness, cooperation, and even competitive nature of a physical workstation, it can get lonely.
Most times, team spirit creates a bond between you and everyone in the office.
It builds trust, facilitates cooperation, and most of all fosters friendships.
All that may seem different if you have to wait for meetings or chat them up to hear from them.
People who don’t mind the peace and quiet and prefer extremely serene and isolated places may not miss the rowdiness of an office.
However, if you get more done in a personal space without the interference of other workers, missing the old crew won’t be an issue.
Besides, the software options available today have fun and interactive platforms that allow information sharing.
Co-workers can easily chat, throw ideas around and plan tasks without having to meet in person.
3. It can be hard to stay motivated.
When there’s no physical supervision and you can easily lie about your work schedule, that just waters down productivity.
Plus, it doesn’t help that you know there’s a bed somewhere in that house, just waiting to accommodate unmotivated and tired minds.
So, how do you meet targets when there’s unlimited food, television, and maybe even kids playing around. These factors can highly make remote working a living hell.
Apart from the many distractions that present themselves, sometimes, it’s just easy to develop a lackadaisical attitude towards work.
The idea that you can always work at any time encourages procrastination. It’s common knowledge that procrastination is the enemy of time.
This is why remote working can be a major disadvantage when it comes to productivity and professionalism compared to office work.
4. Reduced social interaction.
Here’s the truth, that little gossip, chitter here and laugh there helps team spirit.
Relating with people is probably what you need to relax and stop stressing.
If you are just working from morning to night with no one motivating you or inspiring productivity, that may just be your social life calling.
Working solo may breed serious mental strain like depression and feelings of bitterness. It can get very lonely when you work almost the whole day and have little or no time for personal life.
That’s why it’s best to have peoples’ contacts so you can keep in touch more often. That will reduce the feelings of withdrawal or loneliness you may feel after a while of working at home.
customer relationship will be affected
There’s something about meeting customers face-face and making a long-lasting impression and connection. Unfortunately, that’s one of the luxuries remote work may not afford.
When there’s little provision to visit clients, or deliver in person, the relationship may feel a bit strained. All in-person visits will have to be coordinated online through chats, video conferencing, and the likes.
Some clientele does not mind this, but it’s just a bit unreal and over-the-top for others.
It affects performance management
There has been a noticeable shift from focusing on the number of hours worked to the amount of work done.
Of course, the latter should always be prioritized, but the former is equally an essential factor.
The amount of time you spend completing a task or project may reflect in the outcome.
However, when people are squeezing in 3 hours of work rather than 8 so they can juggle other personal responsibilities, that may directly affect performance.
If that is to change, then employers would need to switch to employee management tools that help monitor employee work performance.
Examples like Time Doctor, Trello, or Transparent Business allow employers to see who is online at a particular time and monitor deadlines as well.
If you are thinking of sticking to remote working, then that’s great. Just ensure you have explored the pros and cons properly before making the final decision.
Working from home is an excellent option, especially if you know how to create a psychologically and physically safer place to work. Just remember, it’s not for everyone.
If you’re the type that thrives on feedback, strong leadership chains, healthy morale, and a network of friends or even passive colleagues, then remote work may be quite the challenge.
I hope you found this article useful. Here at Cloud Employee, we assist both developers looking for work and companies looking to hire dedicated offshore developers across many technologies.