A New Professional Landscape
The old adage, “be careful what you wish for” seems especially pertinent when it comes to the concept of remote work. A 2019 study showed that 99 percent of respondents wanted to work from home either full- or part-time. They probably weren’t expecting, however, that an unprecedented pandemic would force that change sooner than anyone could have anticipated. Now that so many people are working remotely, let’s look at some of the pros and cons of telecommuting.
Love: Spending More Time With Family
Many traditional office workers are away from home for upwards of ten hours a day, leaving little time to spend time with family. Newly remote workers reported increased family time as the number one benefit of telecommuting, according to one survey. Even if you’re busy in your home office for much of the day, you can still get a positivity boost from being able to see the other members of your household.
Hate: The Lack of Human Interaction
While some people may get to see their families more, those who live alone or whose family members aren’t home during the day may find themselves experiencing loneliness. For many, relationships with coworkers are a major source of social interaction. Office workers report spending more than an hour a day chatting with coworkers about non-work related topics, compared to under half an hour for remote workers.
Love: Working From Anywhere
While working remotely means working from home for many, others take advantage of telecommuting to travel the globe. When your “workspace” is reduced to a laptop, you can do your job from anywhere you’d like. A survey by Airbnb found that 83 percent of respondents would consider relocating while working remotely in 2021.
Hate: The Lack of Separation Between Work and Home
When working in an office, many employees shut down their computers at 5:00 p.m. and call it a day. When you work from home, however, it can be tempting to continue to check emails and work on nagging tasks in the evening or on weekends because your home becomes your office. A survey by Airtasker shows that remote workers actually work 1.4 days per month more than office workers. The same survey reported that 29 percent of remote workers reported that they struggled to have a work-life balance, compared to 23 percent of office workers.
Related: Childproofing the Home Office
Love: Skipping the Commute
No one likes sitting in traffic or trying to find a seat on a packed city bus. Working remotely allows you to reduce your commute to the number of steps it takes to go from your bedroom to your workspace. Airtasker found that remote workers gained 34 hours of additional free time per month because they didn’t have to commute to work.
Hate: Communication Difficulties
When your coworkers are just steps away, it’s easy to clear up a miscommunication or sort out the details of a project. When your team works remotely however, it can be frustrating waiting hours—or even days—to hear back on a question that could have been answered in a few minutes in person.
Love: Saving Money
When you work from home, your transportation costs plummet. According to the Airtasker survey, telecommuters saved nearly $500 a month on fuel. Because you no longer have to commute, your car gets less wear and tear, resulting in lower spending on maintenance. If you typically take the train, bus, or subway, you can save on public transit passes. Not to mention the savings incurred when you make your lunch at home everyday and don’t have to spend money on a full work wardrobe.
Hate: Unhealthy Habits
Some remote workers have high hopes for making healthy meals every day and avoiding the cost—and calories—of frequent takeout lunches. When you’re at home, however, you have your entire fridge and pantry at your disposal for all-day snacking. Not to mention, when your commute simply consists of traveling from your bed to your desk, you likely lose out on some of the calorie-burning physical activity you get when walking to the subway, or even just up the stairs to your office.
Love: The Flexibility
While some remote workers need to be at their desks all day long, many have more liberty with their schedules. This allows them to go to the gym when they know there won’t be lines for their favorite machines, head to the DMV when waits are shortest, and adjust their work hours to best fit with their sleep schedules.
Hate: Establishing a Routine
When you work in an office, much of your day is often predetermined. When telecommuting, however, you likely have more control over how you fill your time between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. It can be difficult to establish a consistent routine because of the freedom you’re afforded when working from home. This may lead to disorganization and poor time management.
Love: The Ability to Focus
A two-year study by Stanford professor Nicholas Bloom showed that remote workers were much more productive than their in-office counterparts. An office environment is full of distractions, and many telecommuters appreciate being able to buckle down and focus on the task at hand when they work from home offices.
Hate: Domestic Distractions
While there may no longer be coworkers stopping by your cubicle to chat or inquire about an unfinished project, your home is also rife with distractions. Taking care of that pile of dirty laundry or walking an energetic dog ends up taking you away from your actual work. Not to mention, those who have children at home can end up being pestered as much—if not more—than they would in an office setting.
Love: It’s Great for Night Owls
The standard workday starts at 9:00 a.m., which is great for early birds who have a couple of hours in the morning to exercise, read, or have a leisurely breakfast before heading to the office. Night owls, however, are stuck hitting snooze repeatedly while cursing their past selves for not going to bed earlier the night before. The flexibility of telecommuting allows night owls to sleep in longer and build their schedules around their natural sleep rhythms.
Hate: Tech Issues
When you’re in an office, a member of the IT department can quickly clear up any technical problem for you. At home however, you’ll likely have to learn to use a host of new tools to facilitate communicating with your coworkers. When something goes awry, you may be on your own to figure it out.
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