The shifting work landscape of the work environment is moving in the direction of accommodating remote workers.
During the pandemic, it became clear that many people could carry out their tasks without being present in the office.
Forbes says that more than 12% of full-time workers operate from home, while 28% adapted to a hybrid work model—partly working from home and partly from the office.
The growing importance of remote work in modern employment is undeniable. It comes with benefits for employees and employers, but there are certain disadvantages as well.
Understanding the pros and cons of remote working helps one prepare in advance because they know what to expect.
Pros of Working Remotely
It is still too early to tell whether remote work is going to replace in-house work completely in the future. Nevertheless, justifying why remote work is better or preferable to many people is simple when obvious advantages exist.
Flexibility in Work Hours
Let’s start with flexibility in your schedule. It’s one of the first things to consider regarding remote work pros and cons. So long as your job allows it, you can set your schedule.
Wake up whenever you want and go to bed as late as you wish so long as you meet all the deadlines.
You are also free to select the time to have a lunch break and not worry about following the established schedule within the company when everyone has an assigned time for lunch.
Reduced Commuting Stress and Expenses
Not having to commute to work saves you time and money, though some appreciate that they no longer have to feel stressed about traffic jams the most.
Instead, you can stroll around your home in the morning, appreciating the leisure you can afford while others are stuck in traffic.
The same applies when finishing work. Instead of rushing to be the first out to avoid traffic, you can take it easy and choose what you want to do with your time.
Increased Work-Life Balance
Balancing work and personal life becomes much easier. Coming back to the advantage of not needing to commute, you immediately have more time for yourself.
If you want to spend time with the family or download movies from Netflix to watch, you are free to do so.
A nice work-life balance makes employees happier and more productive. Not to mention that retaining such employees is much easier because they will not look elsewhere if they are satisfied inside.
Access to a Global Talent Pool
Remote work opens opportunities for reaching out to a global talent pool. Hiring someone from another country to work in-house is not a viable option for most organizations.
For instance, if you want to hire a virtual assistant, you do not have to limit yourself to local options. Hiring across the globe and assigning tasks remotely can be just as fine. In fact, it brings certain benefits, such as:
- Raising brand awareness and global reach
- Diversification and cultural literacy
- Different cultures that promote creativity
Lower Overhead Costs for Employers
Comparing overhead costs between in-house employees and remote employees, we can go back to the virtual assistant example.
One of the reasons why outsourcing is so popular is because companies save a lot of money. Multiple tasks do not require a full-time commitment, so creating a dedicated position does not make sense.
Instead, a company can hire someone remotely and assign such tasks to them.
Customizable Work Environment
Working in-house comes with limitations as far as your work environment goes. Companies have specific rules, such as no personal belongings or pets. There are exceptions to this, but most will have strict policies.
Working from home, you are your own boss. There is no need to worry about being surrounded by pets (so long as they are not distracting you from work).
You are not stuck in a cubicle. It is up to you how you want to customize the work environment.
Improved Autonomy and Ownership
The sense of autonomy and ownership also plays a prominent role in helping remote employees feel happy and motivated.
There is no in-person supervision. Not having someone to stand behind you creates a sense of freedom. Employees become more confident when left to their own devices.
Positive Environmental Impact
When talking about the pros and cons of remote work, a positive environmental impact is an underrated but valid benefit of working from home. For one, you do not need to use the car as much.
A remote work environment also encourages decreased paper consumption thanks to digitalization. A paperless office strategy saves trees.
Cons of Working Remotely
Some positive things have downsides, and remote work is a good example. While the benefits are clear, you need to treat it as a package deal—remote working advantages and disadvantages go hand in hand.
Potential Feelings of Isolation
The sense of isolation is common among those who are stuck at home working. If you are used to socializing with colleagues in person, giving up the in-house work model leaves few opportunities for casual interactions.
Frustration and isolation lead to burnout, which, in turn, also affects one’s mental health.
Challenges in Communication and Collaboration
Remote communication is another significant challenge that companies face. Explaining everything in person is more effective than explaining via a text message or email.
There is body language involved, and it is much easier to figure out what the other person is saying from the cues they give off. Many remote working pros and cons revolve around communication in your workplace.
Following up and clarifying uncertainties is also easier when you can ask them right away. It does not take as much to exchange information and be done with the conversation.
Meanwhile, emails or text message exchanges can take a while, especially if one of the parties is slow to respond.
Difficulty in Setting Boundaries Between Work and Personal Life
Some employees struggle to set boundaries between work and personal life when they are not working in-house.
As soon as you have fewer interactions with teammates and are stuck in non-traditional working hours, the pressure to spend more time on work builds up.
There is nobody to remind you to take a break or announce that the work day is finished, leaving you in a perpetual state of thinking about nothing but work.
Distractions and Lack of Focus
A home is a place many associate with leisure, so it is easy to get distracted. The desire to procrastinate grows when you have distractions unrelated to work:
- Video games
- Household chores
- Smartphone notifications
- Family members seeking attention
When weighing the pros and cons of working remote from the office, consider the environment in which you will be spending most of your time.
Dependency on Technology
At home, you have to rely on the technology you have. If your computer breaks, for example, you might need to get it fixed. There is no telling how long you will be out of work.
To manage your mail and important documents effectively while working remotely, you might consider using virtual mailbox services.
The same can be said for an internet connection. Poor Wi-Fi is not something everyone can solve right off the bat. Then there are power outages, which are rare, but you cannot discard the possibility of one happening.
That is not to say that such problems are exclusive to remote workers. If you work in-house, you are still vulnerable. It is just that fixing a tech issue is much easier in a company with dedicated resources.
Difficulty in Monitoring Productivity
Productivity monitoring is a problem for employees who like to know what is happening with everyone.
Tracking tools are an option, but employees can circumvent them and play hooky while the work is piling up.
Coming up with excuses is also easier when you do not have to justify them to your supervisor in person.
Time Zone Differences
Time zone differences affect international companies. If you have people working from different sides of the world, collaborations are hardly efficient.
Somebody sends a message and logs off by the time the recipient starts their work. And such back and forth is the opposite of what a productive work environment should look like.
Impact on Company Culture
Companies strive to create a culture within the organization. Those who are working remotely will not be able to participate.
Team building activities that include remote employees can be fun, but they are not the same as those you can do with a big group when everyone is available in person.
The sense of missing out creates friction, and workers who feel left out might cause problems that affect the overall company culture.
Tips for Efficient Remote Working
Between the pros and cons of remote working, eliminating or at least reducing the negative aspects is a solid strategy to succeed as a remote worker.
There are ways you can accomplish that.
Establishing a Structured Daily Routine
A structured daily routine should be your foundation. Create a schedule that you can stick to. Dedicate the time for work and breaks. If you like to sleep in, feel free to do so, but do not go overboard.
Be reasonable and find a routine that works for you. It will take a bit to get used to it, but once you are there, you will have fewer struggles with discipline.
Creating a Dedicated Work Space
You should have a space dedicated entirely to work. Ideally, it should be an entire room that you can turn into a home office.
If you do not have room to spare, a desk with a chair will be perfectly fine. It is about getting that sense of sitting down and knowing that you are in your work station and there is no time for distractions.
Effective Time Management Techniques
Time management is a struggle, but you can build healthy habits. Identify distractions, such as social media, and eliminate them by disabling notifications on a smartphone and blocking the URLs on your desktop browser.
Try time-tracking tools to check how much you spend on each task and talk to your coworkers to compare the results. They might have some pointers on how to be more efficient.
Staying Connected with Colleagues
Just because you are working from home, it does not mean that you need to abandon social interactions with coworkers.
There should still be opportunities to meet in person if the distance is not too great. And if it is not possible, you still have Zoom and phone calls. Even a short chat, especially if it is not work-related, can make a difference in the long run for your mental health and the sense of camaraderie within the company you work for.
Balancing Flexibility with Productivity
Setting clear expectations and goals, establishing effective communication channels, and encouraging collaboration as a cornerstone within the workplace should be enough to help remote workers find the balance between flexibility and productivity.
Explore the world of virtual assistants and their diverse roles, much like the versatility of virtual machine hosting.
To sum it all up, more companies should embrace the benefits of working remotely. Identifying the pros and cons of remote working is part of the process of creating a welcoming work environment for employees.
Mitigating the challenges completely is not possible, so companies have to make do with what they have. Because the role of remote work will continue to grow in the future, organizations that fail to adapt will struggle to keep up with the work industry.
Remote vs in person work can also be approached with a hybrid work model, leaving the choice to employees and finding a balance between in-house work and work from home.