Remote work became the norm for many businesses in 2020 when the global pandemic isolated many people. Nowadays, many employees and employers still prefer remote working due to flexibility, convenience, and financial savings.
Remote work has pros and cons – for both employers and employees. While working from home has many benefits, there is much to consider before determining if this is the best option for you or your company.
What Are the Benefits of Working Remotely?
Working remotely has many benefits for employees, beginning with the convenience of avoiding the morning and afternoon rush hour traffic. Remote working is good for the employee and the planet as it reduces automobile emissions with fewer cars on the road. Reducing one’s carbon footprint is highly popular today as it benefits the environment and the individual.
Companies benefit from a remote work policy because they need less office space, meaning lower overhead costs and increased profits. Employee morale is up because people do not have to commute to work, making the “workday” seem shorter. Companies can recruit the most qualified candidates because they do not need to live nearby the office. Remote work enhances team morale, productivity, and executive retention while decreasing employee turnover.
The biggest win comes for employees, with benefits in many categories, including:
People working from home can save thousands of dollars a year by reducing expenditures such as car expenses (gas and maintenance), parking fees, professional wardrobes, and outside lunches. For some people, deducting expenses for their home office on their taxes helps them enjoy further monetary savings.
Employees feel more independent without anyone looking over their shoulders. They are free to work in ways that best suit their style, whether bouncing between multiple tasks or focusing on one at a time. Many people can also choose their work hours, freeing them up for other responsibilities.
Balance in work/life
Employees with long commutes have less time for their families and favorite activities. With remote work, people have more free time for their personal life. Remote work allows for increased flexibility in schedules, especially when errands, doctors, children, or repairs in your home require your attention.
Another benefit for many people is their overall health. Working from home eliminates the risk of sick employees interacting with everyone else as there is less exposure to illness. People can eat healthier instead of dining out or grabbing fast food, and there is more time for physical activity. Employees can use at-home exercise equipment while working, and recovering from illness, surgery, or injury does not mean taking time off when the office is at home.
Remote work has allowed people to look outside their location for their ideal job. What may have once seemed impossible is now a possibility. Many people are enjoying the freedom of working from “home” on cruise ships, trains, airplanes, and in foreign locales as they combine work and travel in ways they never could before.
Individuals living in rural areas can access “big city” jobs that offer remote positions. Because many companies offer work-from-home positions that do not need to be local, people can move to less expensive areas and enjoy further monetary savings while perhaps living in their “dream home.”
The time savings involved with working from home can add up to hours each week. Without the commute, people can sleep longer, not stress about traffic, and get more done during the day. It becomes easy to start a load of laundry in the morning, put it in the dryer between phone calls, and take it out during lunch hour, freeing up more time at night for relaxation and hobbies.
Remote work increases employee productivity as there are fewer interruptions than might occur in an office setting. Employees are happier at home, in comfortable surroundings that they can customize as they like, with desks and chairs that suit their needs. With less office politics and a quieter environment, people can concentrate on their jobs rather than other distractions. For many people, the ability to work when they are most productive, including early morning or in the evening, helps them get more done.
But There Is Another Side of the Coin
Remote work is not for everyone. There are cons to working from home, just as there are benefits. Not every position can work from home, especially individuals in service industries. Here are some of the most common “cons” of remote work:
Distractions at home
On the one hand, remote work removes the distractions accompanying co-workers and management interrupting your workflow. However, the other side is that at-home distractions, such as laundry, phone calls, children, pets, spouses, deliveries, house cleaning, cooking, and other such things, can make working from home counterproductive for some people. Having lunch in front of the television can cause a person to lose track of time. Being away from an office setting could decrease productivity for those who are not highly motivated or self-starters.
Background noise, children screaming, dogs barking, and phones ringing can interfere with business meetings and calls. Professionalism can suffer.
The feeling of being cut off from others is a significant issue, especially for people who live alone. In the past, when working from an office, there was daily socialization. Remote work deprives us of that aspect of company life. Daily or weekly lunch breaks with co-workers are gone, as are the conversations about families, entertainment, and life that most people enjoy discussing with their colleagues. Gone are the “office perks” that might have existed, such as free lunch, snacks, and other benefits the company might have provided.
Isolation can lead to a decline in one’s mental state. Depression, anxiety, and stress over issues such as these can become exacerbated as people age, especially when hormone imbalances occur. Adults over thirty experience a reduction in the production of vital hormones, including human growth hormone (HGH). HGH deficiency can lead to insomnia (interfering with energy, focus, and performance), fatigue, depression, anxiety, and stress. Some individuals may benefit from learning more about the HGH cost and the many benefits of HGH treatment for health and well-being.
Uncomfortable work surroundings and increased cost
Many people do not have home offices and must utilize kitchen or dining room tables. Their homes may not be ergonomically designed for work, leading to neck and back problems from improper furnishings. Some people have to purchase new desks, chairs, and office equipment and, if they are a regular employee and not a freelancer, cannot claim home-office deductions on their taxes. Working from home also means increased electricity usage and costs.
Cybersecurity concerns and privacy issues
Some companies have legitimate concerns about cyber security, video hacking, and others in the home who might see private information. Ransomware, weak passwords, unsecured Wi-Fi, and file sharing increase the risk of privacy and security breaches.
Possible inconsistent internet access
Individuals living in remote locations may have less than adequate internet connections. That can lead to lower productivity and an inability to communicate freely with the office. Research-based positions that rely on a good internet connection can suffer.
It can be inconvenient for new hires
New employees in a company cannot meet in person and develop relationships with their co-workers. Feeling included in discussions and especially hard to stay motivated without frequent communication can be difficult. Lack of in-person training can make it challenging to understand the job requirements.
Communication gaps and advancements
It can take longer to communicate with co-workers and employees when scheduling Zoom meetings or calls rather than stopping by someone’s desk. Collaborative work can suffer when people are not in a room to share ideas. Another problem is misread cues that accompany electronic communication. People are social and rely on facial expressions and body language to read others’ reactions.
If the company has some people working remotely and others on location, it may seem that those on location have a better chance at promotions.
No separation between work and home
Some people work longer hours because there is no definitive start or end to their day. Their home becomes their workplace and no longer brings the relaxing feel of “going home” at the end of the day.
Negative health impact
For some people, sitting all day decreases their physical movement, especially if they are not motivated to get up and get active. Going to work outside the home requires more effort and movement than going from one’s bedroom to the office/den/kitchen/living room. Throwing together a sandwich for lunch instead of going out for salad with co-workers can increase weight.
There are pros and cons to remote work, and it is up to each person to determine what style of working works best for them. Working remotely can help you enjoy more family and free time, get a better-paying job, and set hours that work best for you. While you sacrifice the face-to-face personal aspects, you can increase your socialization, such as gym memberships, business, groups, clubs, and other activities.
The most important thing is to find a job you enjoy.