The number of people working from home is constantly increasing worldwide, first and foremost in developed countries. But there is no doubt that the dynamics of the increasing popularity of remote work will grow globally with the development of internet accessibility.
Some industries, such as freelancing, owe their existence to remote work. It is difficult to imagine how a freelancer from a small town could offer their services to a large company in New York, for example, if there were no freelance exchanges to connect customers with clients remotely.
This format provides flexibility, allows young parents to care for children without problems, and saves time and money spent on commuting. However, there are pros and cons for both the employer and the employee, so let's take a closer look at them.
Advantages of Remote Work
In recent years, a great deal of research has been conducted that shows people who work remotely are more productive and feel happier. Working from home provides people with several very important benefits, and here are the main ones:
1. Better Work-Life Balance
Most remote workers can schedule their own working hours and work at a pace that is convenient for them. If you are tired, you can take a break. Or you can divide the work into two stages—morning and evening, for instance—and spend most of the day taking care of personal matters such as visiting the gym or taking a foreign-language course.
It is a dream for many people to be able to set their own schedule and work at their own convenience. As a remote worker, for example, you can sleep until noon, or you can wake up at 6:00 a.m. and finish your working day at 3:00 p.m.
2. Cost Savings
If you spend almost two hours a day commuting (not to mention preparing for it), in a month, you’ll have spent 44 hours just going to work and back home. Over the course of a year, that’s 528 hours—or 22 days! And when you add in lunch breaks, smoke breaks, and chatting with not-particularly-busy colleagues, it becomes alarming how much time is wasted.
But it’s not just wasted time; traveling costs money. It doesn't matter if it's your car or public transport. And even more, it costs money to buy food and coffee—necessities freely available in your kitchen at home. As a result, the dollar savings of working from home can be pretty substantial.
3. Work from Anywhere and at Anytime
The internet is very reliable in the US, and almost anywhere you go, if you have a laptop, you can work—at home, in a cafe, in a small town, or out in the country. And if you are tired of working in one place and want to change your environment, travel is also a great option.
Modern technology has reached a sufficient level of development that it is possible to work almost anywhere where there is access to the Internet. Skype, Slack, CRM, and many other tools allow you to communicate with a client or organize teamwork from literally the other side of the planet.
This applies primarily to freelancers who have the ability to adjust their schedules according to their preferences and maximum productivity, where the main goal is to meet deadlines. On the other hand, remote workers usually have a fixed schedule and must be in touch during the working day.
5. More Time for Family and Friends
Social connections and communication with family are essential for everyone. But unfortunately, if all your time is spent on work, commuting to the office, etc., you often simply have no energy left for socializing. This is one of the main advantages of remote work—the opportunity to freely plan your schedule and spend more time with people close to you.
Disadvantages of Remote Work
Although remote work has many advantages, it is not for everyone, and what is a dream for some can become an absolute nightmare for others.
1. Need for High Self-Discipline
If you're the type of person who prefers a disciplined and structured approach to work, you'll likely be able to work remotely successfully. But productivity can drop very much for those who tend to be easily distracted by social media, entertainment, and other things unrelated to work.
Unlike in the office, at home there will most likely be no one to monitor your work—and for some people, this is a real problem.
2. No Physical Separation between Work and Leisure
It is possible that your colleagues will work at night, discussing questions about the project, fixing some urgent issue, updating standards, etc. Although it would seem the working day is over, many people do not care about this. On the other hand, if there are deadlines or something needs to be done urgently, your coworkers may try to get you out of bed, and you will not be able to even rest your eyes for a few moments. This is sometimes a plus because the issue is really that urgent. And at the same time, it can also be very upsetting.
Often in the office, work is fixed according to set hours. It doesn’t always work like that at a remote job, however.
While you occasionally have calls and online meetings with your clients or team members, you will be home alone most of the time. There will be no small pleasures like coffee breaks, lunch together, or sharing weekend plans with colleagues. Some people have difficulty coping with the lack of social interaction.
Small joys like gathering with colleagues for a cup of tea or a joint lunch are good ways to dilute the stress of the working day, allowing you to relax. When working remotely, however, you will mostly only communicate with your management and other company employees via email or Skype. It doesn't matter how advanced modern communication technologies are; they still cannot replace live human communication.
4. Lack of Career Growth Opportunities
From the employer's point of view, it is much more difficult to manage a team of remote employees than people working in the office. Accordingly, they are less likely to be entrusted with the control of an entire project and are more often delegated to solve tasks related only to a specific stage of its implementation.
In any case, for specialists in many professions, career growth practically stops when switching to remote work. And team leaders are usually chosen from employees working in the company's office, as this provides a higher level of feedback.
5. There Is No Isolated Workspace
No matter how disciplined, motivated, and productive you are, if you live in a one-room apartment with your wife, cat, and small child, the only thing that will give you peace is probably the cat. It can be tough to convey to other family members the understanding that you are actually working and not just sitting at the computer, and as a result you can be pulled for any or no reason. For many people, this is the main reason they prefer to work in an office environment.
As you can see, the list of disadvantages of remote work from home is entirely predictable. Although for some people these are not disadvantages and are unlikely to be of great importance to them.
If the above disadvantages do not outweigh the possible advantages, it is definitely worth trying this format. Therefore, the question of choosing whether to work at home or in the office should be considered more in terms of personal preferences.
These advantages or disadvantages may influence your decision, but it is worth trying because often things turn out differently than we imagine. Try starting a remote job with a part-time job. Work a little on the weekends or after your regular shift to see if you can keep up with that rhythm full time. This way, you will not lose anything while still gaining the necessary experience.