Thanks to modern technology, it is now possible for just about anyone to work from home or on-the-go. Communication tools like Slack and Google Docs make it increasingly easy to collaborate with your contemporaries. Those that dream of breaking the shackles of in-office bondage often have fanciful visions of sitting on the beach with their laptop, or being able to type away from a trendy sidewalk cafe. And while those daydreams are more attainable than ever before, is working remotely all it’s cracked up to be?
The number of digital nomads and people working remotely is on the rise. That is undeniable. There are even companies like ‘Roam’ who offer international co-living spaces for remote workers. These idyllic co-ops are designed to entice the minds of 30-somethings who envision themselves working from hammocks in Bali. That is a very real option for some, but there are drawbacks that can discourage even the most focused and adventurous of minds.
While globetrotting is one goal for those that strive to work remotely, the majority of employees that telecommute mostly do so from the comfort of a home office or their couch. The growing need for more flexibility and less decorum, like wearing business attire five days a week, round the top of the list for reasons why more workers are requesting to work from home.
Call It a Cultural Thing
One of the most widely peddled arguments in favor of working remotely is that it paves the way for more productivity. Recently, Microsoft Japan shifted to a four-day work week and saw productivity jump by 40%. This is far from allowing their entire team to come and go as they please, but it is a step in the right direction if you are a proponent of less restrictive job requirements.
It depends on what logic you subscribe to, but distractions are another key factor. Most offices come with a lot of distractions. Chatty co-workers, noise, music, laughter… We’ve all had to contend with those obstacles at one point in our careers. But that isn’t to be said that being at home, or even poolside, doesn’t come with its own set of distractions. Daytime TV, your pets, chores, lounging… They all conspire to impede productivity and hinder workflow.
Careers that allow you to work from home are all the rage these days. Recently the Bureau of Labor Statistics rolled out some staggering stats. In 2017-2018, about 36 million salaried workers, about 25% of the workforce, worked from home part of the time. While a shocking 57% of workers had a flexible schedule that gave them the freedom to begin and end their workday whenever they please.
Now we are finding out that most job-seekers would be more than willing to take a pay cut in order to work from home. Dawn Fay, the senior district president of Robert Half recruiting, says, “Working from home is more and more of a hot topic because of how tight the marketplace is. Companies will do all sorts of things to entice employees, including offering flex-time and work-from-home options.” When Robert Half polled its recruits, they were stunned to find out that 77% of candidates said they’d be more apt to accept a job if the employer offered the ability to work from home at least part of the time.
It’s a double-edged sword though. Working remotely has its obvious advantages and disadvantages for both the employee and the employer. Before you think about approaching your boss about working from home, there are some things you may want to consider.
Pros of Working from Home
- You Win Your Independence – Well, kind of. Truth is you’re still working, just from a much more comfortable environment. An environment of your choosing. You can basically create your dream workspace. You can eat when you want, take a nap if you please, just as long as your work is getting done. This is a test of one’s willingness to self-motivate, have discipline and to concentrate like never before. Working remotely will ultimately make you more self-reliant, something that a lot of people are thirsty for.
- You Can Get More Work Done – In theory at least. When you subtract the travel time to the office, the minutes it takes you to shower and brush your teeth, you already added at least an hour or two of useful time to your day. And you get to choose what you do with that extra time. If self-care is important to you, then yoga for an hour might help to center your mind before diving into work. Having the flexibility to work remotely can really improve the lives of those that can manage it properly.
- You Can Save Money – Working from home equals a lot of savings. It should be obvious. If you drive a car, gas and parking are a clear expense. People that work from home are more inclined to cook their own meals and not eat out as much. Over the months, this can lead to some serious savings.
Cons of Working Remotely
Working MORE! – This may seem like an impossibility, but it certainly isn’t. Those that work from home tend to work longer hours. When you get rid of the ‘getting ready’ routine in the morning and shave off that AM and PM commute, your work and home-life kind of blurs together. It’s almost a reflex to plop down in front of your computer after making that first cup of coffee. Instead of going into work, banging out a bunch of tasks and closing your brain down when the day is over, remote workers often burn the midnight oil simply because they can. This can lead to exhaustion, fatigue, and arguably diminish that ‘inspirational productivity’ that we covered earlier.
You Can Often Feel Disconnected – This is a big one. Even though you’re extensively connected to your co-workers through multiple CRM platforms, social networks, and chat apps, that doesn’t mean working from home doesn’t create a degree of isolation. Human beings are innately social creatures and yearn for approval. As the months slink on, and you haven’t had much creative time outside of work, you can start to get the blues. Brainstorming sessions, party of 1, is a bummer. You just can’t replace that kind of in-person resourcefulness that comes along with being in an office.
Your Co-Workers May Think You’re Goofing off – For those that have only experienced in-office work and thrive in that 9 to 5 nexus, they may not be able to grasp the desire to work from home. Resentments can start to crop up between co-workers that think you’re off vacationing while they are tucked away soaking up fluorescent lighting. This assumption is largely untrue, but it doesn’t protect digital nomads from catching professional flack from their peers.
Bottom line, working remotely isn’t for everyone, and it isn’t ideal from every company or employer either. Maybe the path forward is a healthy balance of both. Employers should listen to potential candidates about why they prefer more flexible work hours and their reasoning behind such a request.
If you are thinking about working remotely, you’ll have to be in the right mindset. You may be putting in more hours, but you’ll be rewarded with the freedom to choose your work environment. Remember to stay laser focused, and if you find yourself slipping, reach out for help to get back on track. You may find that your employer will be happy to work with you to find the best balance for your skillset.
As the Millionaire Recruiter, I offer coaching services to those that want to reach out and grab their destiny. Be sure to check out my podcast on Transformation Talk Radio. Your time in the sun starts now!