With the current situation of COVID-19, employers across the globe are literally being forced by the circumstances to try the remote work experiment. Now, work-from-home may sound great, but it’s important to understand the potential advantages and pitfalls so you know how to best maximize your arrangement. Read on, if you are among the people who have suddenly started working a remote job.
First, the advantages.
You’ll love the flexibility
The best part about working from home is that you get to work from anywhere. Instead of having to check into the same office at the same desk every day, you can work from your bed (wearing your pajamas), in the backyard, at the neighborhood cafe (when the COVID-19 goes away), or whichever place you think is the ideal workspace.
And it’s not just flexibility in ‘where’, but also ‘when’ you work. While some time constraints, such as office meetings (which usually take place during regular business hours) and project deadlines are simply a fact of life and cannot be avoided, remote workers will generally find that they can set their own hours and plan their own schedule as they see most fit for their workload and project requirements.
By having flexible hours, you’re able to tend to the many urgent responsibilities (like fixing your washing machine) or hobbies (like sunbathing) that a regular 9-to-5 job would make it harder to accomplish. All this adds hours of stress-free productivity to your day.
So, to put it simply, the biggest advantage of working from home is freedom and flexibility.
You’ll learn new skills
As mentioned above, working from home provides employees with greater flexibility, now all this can result in one of the two things: they either do not succeed in managing their time properly and flounder in their duties or they seize the opportunity to show how successful they can be independent of direct supervision.
Since you’re here and reading this article, so you probably care enough about your work to fall into the latter group. People who naturally seeks out to information when needed, teach themselves new skills when necessary, and develops a capacity for self-management (because nobody else will be managing them), will be the one who’ll find success as remote workers.
If you ever speak with a veteran remote worker, you’ll notice they seem entrepreneurial. The thing about entrepreneurs is that they cannot afford to wait for somebody to give them answers to the issues they face on a daily basis. Instead, they must take charge of the situation and create their own solutions.
You should follow the same route, acting entrepreneurially by adopting a serious attitude toward your work, planning everything you do, and striving for the highest quality in your work.
You’ll save money
Are you one of those very lucky minority workers who walk to work? If not, then I’m pretty sure you spend a huge chunk of cash on public transportation, fuel, and/or car maintenance. Since, many companies don’t include the commute hours in hours worked, so it’s not just the money that gets wasted, but the hours of essential personal time too.
Working from home gets rid of all this waste. Moreover, remote workers will likely end up saving money in other ways too. For instance, instead of paying some dollars for coffee every morning and then a little more for lunch, you can brew your own drink at home and whip up an afternoon meal from the pantry. And instead of spending your precious bucks on buying professional work-wear, you can show up at your home office in whatever you wore last night (unless of course there’s a video meeting scheduled).
Ok, now that we’ve been through the advantages, let’s get down to the disadvantages.
It’s hard to stay in the loop
Now, there is no doubt that communications technology has got very advanced, but there’s still no environment as perfect for collaboration as being physically present with your colleagues. While fully remote teams can come very close to (if not fully) replicating that experience, teams that are partially remote present a tricky challenge: when your peers in the office have an impromptu brainstorming session about a project or spontaneously start white-boarding ideas, how do you as the remote worker stay in the loop?
You’ll never get the same answer if you pose this question to different teams, but let me sum it up for you “it’s complicated.” Ultimately, the responsibility falls on both of you, you (as a remote worker) and your office colleagues should be consistent and methodical about communicating all relevant information on a regular basis.
If this gap in communication is not handled the right way, it will cause unnecessary repetition of work which will not only affect this project deadline but will also slow down other projects to a standstill.
No more happy hour
Let me tell you something about myself when I first started working full-time in an office, I did not know even one person there but with time I grew close to my co-workers and today my best friends include that designer I sat next to, that developer who shared so many of my interests and so forth. It’s the people who make the office come alive and there’s nothing quite as satisfying as going out for happy hour drinks with a few colleagues at the end of a long, stressful week.
So, another con of remote working is that it lacks all of those amazing social opportunities. Now, some people may argue (and quite rightly so) that it’s quite beneficial too in certain situations such as when you are working on a very hard & complex project and you want to be completely focused on it, there’s no chance of a co-worker tapping you on the shoulder to talk about last night’s baseball game or to drag you into a random meeting.
Now, it’s not that I don’t agree with that but I think its cons far outweigh its pros. I mean it can be isolating to work 24/7 all by yourself at a home office. It’s for this reason that many remote workers will take the occasional chance to work outside, at a neighborhood cafe, or even alongside other remote workers. At the end of the day, remote workers are only human, and humans are social animals.
Now, as mentioned above working from home keeps you from the distractions of a passing work buddy but, unfortunately working remotely isn’t free from distractions and comes with its own set of distractions, that will vary depending on each worker’s circumstances.
You can be tempted to tidy up around the house, wash the dishes, straighten the bathroom, — since nobody’s watching — simply sit back and blast some of your favorite tunes while surfing social media and eating your favorite pizza. Distractions come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, and they definitely seem to increase in number when you’re not in the office, so it takes a strong will to defend against them.
Like all the other new paradigms transforming our beautiful Earth today, working from home too comes with significant pros and cons. And what works for one team or one individual won’t necessarily work for the other. But as advancement in technology continues and the world only grows more connected, it’s clear that remote working will play a crucial role in the future of business.
Thank you for reading!