October 16, 2015
Why Working Remotely Makes More Sense
The state of the remote-based workforce is growing rapidly across the world. More workers are taking advantage of less commuting and more doing. When it comes down to it a lot of older habits within the workplace that don't make as much sense today as it did only a decade ago. We no longer need to communicate face-to-face to get feedback or results from other co-workers or employees. Will this be the new way of life for most? Possibly... This article is meant to shed some light on the pros and cons of working remotely and how it makes more sense for a modern worker.
The Perception of Remote Work
Remote work often gets a bad rap. Many companies operate on old traditions that worked best at the time (think decades ago). The root of the problem is the people. Companies are often run by older generations who are hesitant to change. This is especially true when it comes to technology.
Older generations of people tend to think working on-site increases productivity. I don't have data to back this up, but I think that is a load of crap. Working on-site means you get to put up with numerous distractions on a given day. These distractions could range from regular conversations, unneeded meetings, unwanted noise from others, the list goes on. On top of that, you have to commute to and from your job.
Let me outline a typical day of when I used to work on-site for an employer:
The night before
- I typically prepare a lunch for the next day if I decide to bring my own (way healthier than always dining out).
The day of work
- Wake Up
- Make Coffee
- Shower and Get Dressed
- Eat Breakfast
- Grab a coffee and the lunch I made the day prior and set off to work
- Commute in loads of traffic for up to an hour on some days
- Finally arrive at work
- Check emails and plan the day
- Attend any meetings
- After meetings I try to get work done without distractions but fail all the time.
- Continue trying to work but more distractions from co-workers persist
- Day ends
- Back to the commute
- Get home
- Eat Dinner
- Try to workout (I like to be active since I sit behind a computer screen most of the day)
- Wind down for the day and repeat the steps above.
See much productivity there? I don't. The amount of time for me to focus on something was relatively small. The concept of traveling day-to-day wastes a lot of time and money if you drive a car. Working remotely, especially from home, allows you to bypass a lot of the steps I mentioned and focus on what you want to and when you want to.
As a remote worker, your schedule is much more flexible. No longer do you need to work the same old nine to five to get things done.
I work from home most of the time and often in two to four-hour blocks. Then I break for another activity or a meal. This schedule works for me and allows me to really focus on what I'm working on without distractions or commute times. On top of that, since I like to live an active lifestyle, I'm actually able to since I can work in blocks without needing to be on-site. I can eat healthier, work smarter, and even have more leisure time to learn new things or hang with my family. Win-win.
I think remote work gets a bad reputation due to the fact that it's not a rigid structure and those who oversee have to put trust in their employees to actually commit to working rather than slacking off. It's a growing pain for companies who are stuck in their old ways to transition into offering a remote option to their employees, but it doesn't have to be.
New tools are available to make things operate smoothly. There are tools for project management, billing, chatting, documentation, and tons more readily available. All it takes is just committing to the change which I realize is easier said than done.
Nearly any way of life involves communication. If you're used to being around others, you shouldn't let that deter you from choosing to work remotely. Communication, no matter the setting, makes the world go round and working remotely often means communicating in different ways.
We live in a world with rapid technological enhancements at our fingertips. Every day there's a new app, solution, or article that can change the way we operate if we choose to do so.
Communication can take place with applications right within your web browser. Tools such as GoToMeeting, Skype, or Google Hangouts allow you to communicate with anyone from nearly any place with either the internet or data connection.
I would have to say the biggest downside of remote work is socialization. Working onsite gives you the freedom to talk to people and communicate first hand. Communicating in person does yield a higher impact in the sense that you can understand a person's emotion that's tied to their message. Sometimes emotion does wonders and other times it muddies up the works.
While working remotely, you can still be social. There are a number of ways to be socially active online and offline. If you don't like the idea of working alone you could look into a collaborative workspace where other remote workers or freelancers tend to work if they need a space other than where they live. These places allow for social interaction in person but still allow you to work on your own terms which is a nice perk. These places are great for meetings with clients or co-workers if you do need to have some face-to-face time. Most charge by the day so the fees are really flexible and fair.
Socializing online can take place with your friends on social media, co-workers through chat or video messaging, and more. There's really no need to always be face-to-face unless you prefer it. In the end, it all comes down to what you want.
Commuting sucks. I remember when I worked on-site and had a round trip commute time of about two hours. It was such a waste of time, money, and stress. I had gotten a job rather far away from where I lived, but it was a good opportunity. It was okay for a while, but the commute alone made me eventually quit. No joke.
On average I saved an extra 10 hours a week by eliminating my commute time.
Until you don't have to commute, will you understand why working remotely is so much more convenient and productive. If I have to ever work onsite again you can bet it's going to take a lot of convincing to get me to do so.
Dividing Work-Life from Personal Life
Working remotely can often lead to the blending of work like and your personal life if you're not careful. You have to be sure you enjoy what you do while working remotely so you actually apply yourself. If you aren't happy with your job you will never get the drive to work offsite.
If you work remotely at a job you can stand but don't love I would recommend getting your hands dirty in some side projects to keep your attention and inspiration levels high. Side projects promote you to make use of your time and perfect your skillset. You can even consider a side project to be learning something new, like a language, or technique.
Loneliness is often a topic of discussion for remote workers. People who work alone tend to feel left out and sometimes lack drive. This is normal. Humans like to be around the ones they care about. There will be periods of loneliness but as you develop your schedule you will find ways to compete against feeling lonely.
Attending events outside of work is a great way to release. Hanging with friends, family, or just doing something completely different that doesn't involve your computer or phone will help balance out the lifestyle. The great thing about working remotely is that you can decide where and when these things take place.
Remote work just makes sense
For workers that work on a computer, the ability to work remotely will always exist. The barrier against transitioning more companies into making remote-based work the "norm" is people. Some people might not be set out for remote work and feel more comfortable at work rather than logging into work.
I think going forward at least offering the option to work remotely would prove to be beneficial to employers and their employees. If an employee isn't comfortable or happy with their position in the company they will likely not be at their best. It is an option and they are committed enough, it makes more sense to work remotely.
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