Aside from being able to use your own bathroom and/or spend endless time with your pets, in all seriousness, what are the pros and cons of working remotely?
No, this is not yet another blog post that recycled another blog post that summarizes another blog post, and so on into infinity. We’ve actually brainstormed internally because we are a fully distributed team with each individual working 100% remotely. We then asked the public, and what better place to do so than harness the power of Reddit? The goal was to really and genuinely reflect on the reality of working remotely and share our findings.
Despite our own experiences with remote work, we have truly learned a lot. Good news - benefits of working remotely far outweigh the disadvantages and we tend to agree.
Pro: Working Remotely aka No Commute
This was by far the most cited advantage of remote working, and not only because it allows for more time for a couple more errands or a hobby. Skipping commute is a way bigger pro of working remotely than meets the eye.
Save money = earn more
Not having to commute means savings no matter how you commute to work. Yes, even if you walk or bike. If you drive, you will obviously save on fuel, parking, and maintenance. If you favor public transportation, you’ll save on tickets. But even if you don’t use either of these means of transportation, you’re still pocketing more. Say you make €30/h and work full time, so roughly 40 h/week. Let’s say you commute 30 minutes each way, each day, which is a dream to many living in big cities. That’s 1 hour every day, or 5 additional hours every week. So in reality, you’re putting in 45 hours a week, and actually making €26.7/h.
Working remotely is green
If you do drive, your environmental footprint is now way smaller than if you had to drive to and from work every day.
Pro: Working Remotely facilitates a healthier lifestyle
The importance of a balanced diet and a regular sleep pattern cannot be overstated. Working remotely means that you can plan your meals well in advance and make them yourself, knowing exactly what you’re putting in your body. Not to mention yet more potential for savings when you don’t have to spend money on eating outside every day. Not commuting and not needing to get dressed and groomed every morning also means you have more time to get that additional hour of sleep.
But a balanced diet and a healthy amount of sleep aren’t the only parameters that facilitate a healthier lifestyle in a remote setting. The simple fact that a physical office may feature extremely uncomfortable chairs can do a lot to your body and to your productivity. With remote work, you decide what’s comfortable for you. Whether it’s the type of chair you’re sitting in, the position you prefer to be in while crushing that month’s KPIs, or even if it’s the battle of indoors vs. outdoors, ultimately, you decide.
Finally, just like diet, sleep, and good posture, regular exercise is integral to a healthy and productive life, and this can hardly resonate with anyone more than with a person working an office job and hence leading a mainly sedentary lifestyle. Saving time on commute, and not having to worry about the gym being far away from your lovely abode, nor about how much a membership in one could cost you (in some European countries, a monthly membership could run you about €150). If space allows, you can set up your own meditation and workout corner, because you will 100% have time to dedicate to exercise.
Pro: Working Remotely means your own space at your own pace
Working remotely is not always the same as the notion of working from home. If you’re not restricted with time zones and domestic contracts, you can work from literally any location in the world. Different contract types could make or break this one.
But even if you are, the place you work from is still not limited to a few postal codes. You can settle in a super remote location (pun intended) as long as you have a stable internet connection, or you can choose the hustle and bustle of a city. The key word is choice.
Personalized office environment
Setting up your office environment is a big advantage, too. You can choose the type of computer you’re working with, office furniture, a ton or none of the plant world, pets, music or silence, temperature settings, etc. And even on the days when you can barely get out of bed and feel burnt out, your desk is at your fingertips, as well as an itinerary to a weekend getaway with your office aka laptop.
Fewer distractions & micromanagement
Many respondents also brought up fewer distractions, such as a loud office, micromanagement, small talk, and of course - using your own bathroom! Let’s not forget that working remotely also means no dress code and if you have a family, more time with them.
But while remote work brings a whole slew of benefits and is essentially an introvert’s paradise, drawbacks of remote work can creep in. Fast. Let’s look at some below.
(Yes, there will be tips on how to deal with them)
Con: Isolation and lack of interpersonal communication
For many people, bonding with their coworkers is a big part of their office day-to-day. Many people who responded feel that isolation is a drawback for anyone whose morale is boosted by an occasional office chat, but also for those who strongly believe that in-person communication is unmatched when it comes to clear communication and tension diffusion.
But this is not an unsolvable issue and most of the responsibility to curb this is on remote employers themselves. A clearly communicated office culture needs to exist and be facilitated through virtual social gatherings that will neither overwhelm the team nor abridge their need for bonding.
For matters of clearing out the way for fewer misunderstandings and plentiful opportunities for knowledge and experience exchange, there are many tools out there - from project management to leadership in matters of communication. Read more about managing remote teams effectively for tips and tricks, as well as a host of tools to make this whole thing a matter of the past.
Don’t forget to nurture your social life outside of work to avoid isolation issues in general.
Con: Meeting fatigue
A number of participants in this pros and cons discussion felt that almost every little thing required a meeting, which can definitely be true. As a distributed team ourselves, we cannot attest to this, however. If meetings are necessary for everything, this signals an issue with the management and should be brought up (politely and professionally!), because it isn’t something all remote companies experience.
At Nixa.io, we make use of several communication tools - in other words, if it can be an email, make it an email; if it can be a Slack message, make it a Slack message. Openly talk about the benefits of balancing written and verbal communication that will benefit both you and your employer.
Con: Blurred Line - Work vs. Life
This is definitely a big one. Working in your PJs on the couch is all fun and games, but you definitely need to commit and draw a line between your work schedule and private life, because the vast majority of both will happen in your own space. Many complain of taking the extra time for granted and then slipping into the habit of working late into the night. If your most productive hours are later in the day, great, but whatever it may be, draw the line from the get go.
While this downside to working remotely may be the result of remote work still being in its infancy and only pushed forth by the trials and tribulations of the pandemic, it’s important to take into account.
Out of sight, out of mind, some have said. And this indeed may be true, especially if you’re working in a hybrid environment. Fewer internal networking opportunities, as well as fewer face-to-face interactions may make it more difficult to showcase all your talents and thus influence the pace of your advancement.
But it doesn’t have to be so. Firstly, not every remote job is in a hybrid environment, so you don’t have to worry about being disadvantaged while your colleagues working on site are at full speed.
Secondly, as remote work becomes the norm, this issue, where it exists, should fade. But if it persists in a fully remote environment, talk to your manager/mentor and express your concerns. Managers are often overwhelmed with the transition just as you may be, and may not think of every single issue that may arise, so genuine feedback on the possibility of your promotion being hindered simply through the fact that you’re working remotely may be enough to put in motion an entire policy to take care of the issue.
Are you at a crossroads as to whether to pursue a remote career or not? If you're leaning towards the former, learn more about finding remote jobs, ATS-proof CVs, and acing remote interviews.
But ultimately, it is your choice - that's what remote is all about.