10 Advantages of Working Remotely
There’s been a significant shift in working culture throughout 2021, and both employers and employees alike are now embracing the many benefits of working remotely (also known as telecommuting and teleworking).
For those that are new to the concept, or still have reservations, this article looks at what working remotely really involves, and some of the top advantages associated with it.
So keep on reading...
What Does Working Remotely Mean?
Working remotely essentially means working outside of the traditional office space.
'Telecommuting' specifically refers to 'working without a commute'; in other words, working from home.
You might also be 'teleworking' which refers to working at another location to your employer. This may be at home but it might also be in a co-working space or at a client's premises.
Historically, it has been associated with freelancers, contract employees or those who run their own business from home.
However, working remotely in today’s climate primarily involves working directly for a specific company or organization but fulfilling your duties away from your place of employment, also referred to as telecommuting.
It is advancements in cloud computing, collaborative software and remote digital technologies that have opened up the possibilities for increased remote work and, of course, changing global circumstances that have made it a necessity.
Remote work can take place in an employee’s home, in a public place such as a café or library, or from increasingly popular co-working spaces that offer a stepping stone between the home and office environment.
Some employees spend all their time remotely, while others may split their working life between the office and remote locations.
Whether you’re already a remote employee, looking to broach the possibility with your current employer, or are considering work from home jobs as a potential career move, there are many benefits to be had from this working lifestyle.
10 Advantages of Working Remotely
1. Improved Work-Life Balance
One of the major benefits of working remotely is that it gives you more flexibility to balance professional and personal commitments.
Most employers that offer remote working are open to early starts and late finishes, or vice versa, provided the work gets done. This gives you the freedom to plan your schedule around the school run or personal appointments.
If you have a family, you can adjust your working hours to make the most of time spent with children.
The traditional office-based routine fixes work as the number one priority, whereas working remotely allows you to pay equal attention to all your commitments.
2. You Can Choose Your Dress Code
Though many companies are switching from formal attire to a more business casual dress code, the office environment still requires you to dress to a certain standard.
That’s not to say that working remotely gives you leave to be unkempt or stay in your pajamas all day. You should still make the effort to dress appropriately. It does, however, mean you can afford to be a little more casual.
Being comfortable has many benefits in itself, particularly at times when you’re not feeling your best and need the luxury of a relaxed outfit to help you through the day.
3. It Reduces Office Politics
The traditional workplace can, at times, be a hostile environment where co-workers vie for power and status or bring personal grievances to a professional setting.
When employees are all under one roof, office politics can be hard to escape, and as a consequence, issues often escalate quickly.
One of the benefits of working remotely is that you’re removed from the intensity of these situations, and though they’re still likely to exist, they become far less of an issue when there’s distance involved.
As well as alleviating office politics, working remotely can encourage teamwork, as you and your colleagues will need to communicate effectively and focus on remote collaboration to achieve results.
4. There’s No Commute
The average person spends at least an hour a day traveling to and from the workplace and for some, the daily commute is even more time-consuming.
Commuting can be a stressful activity. Delays on public transport, traffic jams and busy commuter trains can all lead to increased anxiety.
Working remotely means you not only gain free time, but that you can use it to improve your wellbeing, perhaps with a morning exercise program or starting the day off with a healthy sit-down breakfast.
As a bonus, it will also save you money and reduce your carbon footprint, benefitting both your bank balance and the environment.
5. You Can Design Your Own Office
Where working remotely means working from home, you have the option of creating an office space suited entirely to your taste.
You can take your pick of the best office chairs available, in a style you find most comfortable, configure your desk to your exact needs, and decorate the room however you choose.
You can even accessorize with items that improve your concentration and creativity, like house plants, scented candles and wall art.
It may sound like an indulgent activity but creating a personalized space can not only boost performance, it also makes the working day much more pleasurable.
6. You’ll Learn to Be More Self-Sufficient and Proactive
Working remotely often means you’ll need to take more responsibility on a day to day basis because there are no co-workers on hand to fix things when they go wrong.
This makes you a more self-sufficient employee.
For example, you may need to solve your own IT issues or learn to use a piece of software that, until now, you’ve relied on other people’s knowledge for.
These skills make you more attractive to your current, and any future employer.
You’ll also learn to be more proactive and take ownership of your actions.
With no one around to easily consult on minor issues, you’ll become more assertive with your decision making.
7. It Can Increase Productivity
The home may not seem like the most productive setting but in fact, many people find it easier to focus in this environment than anywhere else.
There are distractions in the office that are out of your control, such as talkative co-workers and background noise. It’s also easy to become involved in activities that detract from your workload.
Working remotely, these distractions are removed, and with good organizational skills, you can significantly increase your productivity.
Meetings also tend to be more productive when they’re held virtually.
In the office, there’s the convenience of calling a meeting at will and these can sometimes be ill-prepared and unnecessary. A virtual meeting needs to be pre-arranged, allowing for preparation, structure and focus.
8. Your Job Is Not Dependent on Location
Without a doubt, one of the biggest benefits of working remotely is that you’re not tied down to a specific geographical area.
This opens up huge potential for career growth, as your options are not restricted to a convenient location.
It’s also a benefit for those looking to stay in their current role, despite having to relocate for personal reasons.
It is now not uncommon for an employee to live and work in two separate states. Of course, this may involve extensive travel from time to time when your presence is required in person, but the benefits of this working arrangement usually compensate for the occasional sacrifice.
Also, as more employers begin to embrace the convenience of the virtual interview, even the recruitment process can be handled remotely.
9. It Can Improve Communication
A common misconception of working remotely is that it creates a barrier that can lead to communication breakdown. In many cases, however, the exact opposite is true.
When colleagues are dispersed and work across various locations, they become more inclined to use these tools to full effect.
As a result, you’re likely to become a better communicator by working remotely, and since this is one of the key soft skills sought by employers, it makes you a valuable asset to any team.
10. It Can Improve Your Overall Wellbeing
Office life comes with many factors that can be detrimental to your health and wellbeing.
Already mentioned are the stresses associated with office politics and the daily commute, but there are other issues to take into account.
Your diet can suffer as a result of convenience eating, or even skipping meals, and it can be difficult to fit in regular exercise or mindful activities.
Working remotely gives you extra time and allows you to set your own schedule, so you can balance a healthy lifestyle alongside your professional commitments.
Even opting to invest in a standing desk for your home office can bring major health benefits.
For many, working remotely also reignites a passion for their career, as the monotony of the nine to five routine is taken away, and their work becomes more of a pleasure and less of a chore.
What Are the Challenges of Working Remotely?
Like most things in life, there are two sides to working remotely and though the benefits are many, there are disadvantages that need to be considered.
Here are some of the main downsides and how to overcome them:
Work and Life Boundaries Can Become Blurred
This is particularly true if you work from home. Though the upside of working remotely is that it gives you the freedom to balance professional and personal commitments, for some, it can be hard to switch off when there’s no change of scenery.
You may find yourself checking emails or completing the odd task outside of working hours and may, with time, feel overstretched and run down.
Fortunately there is a simple solution:
The key is to get yourself into a routine.
Set reminders to take regular breaks, let colleagues know what your working hours are and have a designated office space that is separate from your living quarters.
Leave laptops and work phones in your office at the end of the day so there’s no temptation to have a quick check in.
It Can Be Hard to Keep Yourself on Track
There are certain key competencies, like organization, prioritization and decision making, that are easier to focus on in the structured office environment.
When working remotely, it can be tempting to put your most challenging responsibilities aside in favor of easier tasks, since there’s no one else around to oversee your duties.
So how can we overcome this?
Make yourself daily to-do lists and stick to them. Instead of procrastinating, take the 'Eat the Frog' approach. That is to say, tackle the most important, and often most difficult, jobs before you move on to anything else.
It Can Feel Isolating at Times
Working remotely can often be lonely, especially if you work from home and live alone.
For introverted personality types, isolation is more of a plus than a disadvantage, but for those who enjoy the company of others and thrive in a social environment, it can be a major issue.
There is also the danger of cabin fever if you don’t leave your home for several consecutive days.
So what's the solution?
Organize lunch dates with family and friends where possible and check in with co-workers via video chat every once in a while.
If you really struggle on your own, consider using a co-working space from time to time. These not only provide social interaction, but they’re also a great place to network and make new connections. To avoid cabin fever, make outdoor exercise part of your daily routine.
Remote Working Brings Its Own Interruptions
As mentioned, the office environment is full of distractions, and so too is the home.
Phone calls, deliveries and knocks on the door can all bring inconvenient interruptions, and if you have young children or pets, it can be difficult to balance their needs with your daily responsibilities.
Then there are family and friends, who can often believe that it’s OK to drop round for an unexpected visit simply because you’re at home.
But what can you do?
All this takes is a tactful conversation to let them know that, although you’re home, you’re not available for socializing, and they should treat your circumstances the same way they would if you worked from an office, where they’d never consider turning up unannounced.
Childcare is also a must if you plan on working remotely full time and your children are of an age where they need constant supervision but are too young for school.
As for the other distractions, simply ignore unexpected phone calls or knocks at the door. Ideally, locate your office where these can’t be heard.
Working remotely is not for everyone. Some people prefer, and in many cases, need, the social interaction and team environment that can only be found in the office.
Indeed, some roles simply can’t be fulfilled from a remote location.
For those that can and do work remotely, however, it’s a lifestyle that can positively impact health and wellbeing, personal circumstances and professional development.
As remote work becomes increasingly popular, we’re also likely to see further technological advancements that enable more and more employees to perform effectively from any location, allowing them and their employers to further benefit from this forward-thinking shift in work-based culture.