There are both pros and cons of working from home. There are many benefits including saving time and money commuting, more flexible hours and ability to lead a healthier lifestyle. But, working remotely also comes with new challenges. It’s harder to connect with coworkers, it’s easy to start working more hours and could even potentially limit your career opportunities. In 2020, many office jobs moved to remote work and not by choice. We learned working remotely tips that helped make this shift easier. But, many businesses and people operated under the assumption that work from home was temporary at the beginning.
Companies have already started saying they’re open to continuing remote work. Some companies like Google expressed the possibility of a hybrid work from home model only to backtrack a few months later and share that workers can work remotely and expect 20% to work entirely from home. Other employers like Facebook said early in the 2021 that team members can work remotely from anywhere forever. On the opposite end of the spectrum JPMorgan’s CEO Jamie Dimon has shared he wants work to look like it did before starting in Oct. As we move from forced work from home to options on where we work in the future, what work model is best for you? Is it full time office, hybrid work from home or working remotely full time? Below are pros and cons of working remotely that you should know.
What Does Working Remotely Mean
First, what does working remotely mean? Working remotely allows professionals to work outside their traditional office environment. Instead of commuting to an office each day to work at their desk, they can work out of their house or another nearby place like a coffee shop.
Pros of Working Remotely
Many of us had a crash course in working remotely in 2020. Working remotely in the middle of a pandemic, and working remotely normally are not the same though. For starters, kids are in school and not in remote learning next to you. You’re not staying at home 24/7. Usually, there are also opportunities to work from a coffee shop, or other public area, mask free. And, if you do have coworkers in the area you can arrange a lunch or coffee date to meet and collaborate. As a result, the full benefits of working remotely weren’t all realized in 2020. There are many benefits to working remotely when we aren’t in the middle of a pandemic that should be considered when you make your decision.
Save Time Commuting And Getting Ready For Work
The biggest advantage of working remotely is the amount of time you save on commuting and getting ready. According to a study by the US Census Bureau, Americans spend anywhere from 30 minutes to 1 hour 30 minutes commuting every single day depending on state. If you commute an hour a day, working for 49 weeks a year you’ll spend 245 hours commuting a year! And, that doesn’t even include the amount of time you spend getting ready for the office.
Instead, you can spend this time doing a workout, with your family, preparing healthier meals, extra sleep or enjoying a hobby. It’s important to set boundaries here. When everyone is working remotely it’s very easy for work meetings to creep into the time you normally would have been commuting. It’s important to set boundaries so you minimize this risk.
Save Money By Eating At Home and Not Commuting
There are a few ways you save money by working remotely. The most obvious is the money you used to spend on commuting including gas, tolls and car maintenance. Did you also realize you save money on work outfits, dry cleaning, and lunches? By working remotely, you can dress in less expensive clothing that doesn’t require dry cleaning. It’s also much easier to make lunch as you’ll have your entire kitchen at your disposal.
Live A Healthier Lifestyle
When you’re working from home you have your fridge, your kitchen and all of your appliances. You have more options for what you can cook. Even if it’s just quickly warming up leftovers the opportunity to eat healthier at home is there.
When you’re working from home you can also set aside time for an at home workout. This could be a run during lunch, a Peloton cycle ride before or after work when you’d normally be commuting or another preferred workout.
This benefit was not often realized during the pandemic as gyms were closed, grocery shopping pivoted and the overall stress of the pandemic. As life begins resuming to normal and we are all safer with lower community transmission and vaccines it will become easier to live a healthy lifestyle while working from home.
Flexible Time Working
In order to have a successful work remotely culture, your company needs to pivot to defining success based on outcomes. It’s not about working 8 hours a day at certain times anymore. It’s about hitting the deadlines you committed to and producing quality work. With this shift, you have more flexibility in when you work. There will still be standing meetings you are expected to attend but you can pick your kids up from school and make up the time at another hour or another day. Work time isn’t completely flexible, but it is much more flexible than the typical 9-5 in the office. This flexibility is incredibly helpful as kids resume their usual extracurricular activities. You’re able to drive them to the activity and work from the car or activity location if needed.
Cons of Working Remotely
Working remotely in 2020 had some cons that don’t normally exist. For example, being at home 100% of the time and very limited opportunities to work from a coffee shop for the day. Without the ability to freely move around we saw ourselves sitting in the same chair for hours on end. There are other cons to working remotely that may seem temporary but can continue if you’re not careful.
Not Setting Work Time Boundaries Leads to Increased Time Spent Working
If you don’t set boundaries for when you’re working and when you’re not you can easily work longer hours. Your laptop is already open and set up, it’s easier to log in again after hours to finish something. If you work in a global team you may set up early and late meetings to meet with team members in their time zone. All of a sudden your 8 hour days become 10-12 hour days.
Because you boss doesn’t see you in an office they may not even realize how many extra hours you are putting in unless they are online at the same time as you and are communicating with you that often during the week. The ball is really in your court to set boundaries for when you’re working and when you’re not. Put blocks in your calendar. Communicate with your boss when the workload gets to be too much.
Working From Home Can Result in Unhealthy Eating
How disciplined are you when it comes to eating? As much as you have your entire kitchen at your disposal when you work from home, you also have your snack drawer readily available. You’re not stuck with whatever you packed for lunch or whatever is in the cafeteria. If you eat your lunch at 10AM at the office you are limited to what food is in a vending machine or in the cafeteria. But at home? If you eat your lunch at 10AM you have enough food to have a second lunch at noon, and a third lunch at 3PM. Or you mindlessly snack all day not realizing how many calories you’re consuming.
Working From Home Can Result In Becoming More Sedentary
Office jobs tend to lead to a sedentary lifestyle in general. But, when you’re commuting to the office you’re walking to your car, walking from the car to the office, walking to the bathroom and naturally take a few more steps even when you’re sitting in a chair most of the day.
When you work from home, you literally can sit in the same chair for 8 hours and at 5PM realize you have only taken 400 steps all day. Blocking off your calendar for a 20-30 minute walk every day can help with this. There is also an opportunity to identify calls and meetings that don’t have to be in front of a computer. If you’re catching up with someone go on a walk while you’re taking a call. Or, if it’s a call you need to listen into but don’t need to be active in go on a walk while on that call.
Harder to Establish Close Connections With Coworkers
When office jobs shifted rapidly to remote work back in March 2020 we all learned about what worked well and what didn’t together. In many cases though, you were working with people you already had established relationships with. Now, in 2021, hiring has started to pick up again. Coworkers are considering new opportunities and backfilled with someone you don’t know. How do you establish relationships with new team members, and even new managers? Not only that, how do you maintain the relationships you already have?
There are a lot of remote working tools like Slack, Microsoft Teams and Zoom. You need to create opportunities to connect with coworkers as you won’t randomly run into them. Set up 1×1 calls and know what they are interested in. If they are a foodie and a cool new restaurant is opening send them the menu and say you thought of them when you read this news. Know their birthday and reach out to say happy birthday to them.
Working Remotely May Impact Your Career Advancement Opportunities
Are you the only person on the team that is working remotely? If so, you may have less face time and interactions with leadership than the rest of your peers. You may also be the only one joining the Zoom remotely and the rest of the team is in the same conference room. This gives you a disadvantage as it makes it harder to hear, you can’t participate in side bar conversations and it’s harder to speak up. Despite this, there are still ways to advance your career when you’re the only team member that’s remote. However, you are at a slight disadvantage compared to the rest of your peers.
Your career options will be less impacted if your whole team is remote, or if most of your team is in a hybrid model. It’s much easier to participate in remote meetings when everyone is remote. Any side bar conversations are done through offline texting or IM. Everyone has the same difficulty getting a word in. Everyone is on an equal footing and it’s up to individuals to advocate for their career goals, work with their mentors and career sponsors to advance their careers.
As many companies didn’t fully embrace working remotely prior to the pandemic these same companies will go through another learning curve transitioning to full time remote or hybrid remote. New processes will need to be put into place to help keep the playing field even when it comes to career opportunities. No longer can career progression be tied to who you see in the office.
Is Working Remotely Right for You?
Don’t let pandemic fatigue influence your decision for choosing whether or not to work remotely. Especially when we’re all excited for the time we can see and connect with people in person again it’s very easy to jump to wanting to go into the office again.
Consider what is best for you based on the pros and cons of working remotely. What is your team dynamic at work? Think about what is best for your health? What is best for the way you work? You don’t have to go full time to the office or full time remote either. If you like some of the working remotely benefits and also don’t like some of the cons a hybrid work from home model may be best for you.
Dividend Power says
I think working from home is a great thing. But there are some work things that have to be done at work. Also, out sight out mind applies to working from home.
There are definitely things that must be done at work but I think the forced WFH surprised people at exactly how much can be done at home. With the right tools and IT infrastructure even more can be done at home but it takes investment to get to that point. You need to put more effort to stay in sight when you work from home but it can be done. It requires a person being proactive though verse being able to walk down a hallway and be seen. Sponsorship, mentorship, quarterly updates on your career goals with your manager, wishing people happy birthday (and recording when they are so you know when to reach out), knowing what interests people and sending them articles they may find interesting on occasion.
Financial Pilgrimage says
You nailed it with the pros and cons of working from home. I’m hopeful that most companies adapt a hybrid approach to get the best of both worlds. I’m still working remotely after 14 months and will probably start going back a day or two a week in August or September. We’ll see how it goes!
Thank you! I agree I hope most companies adopt a hybrid approach and with that adoption acknowledge some of the new challenges (like half of team on Zoom while half in same conference room, some team members getting less face time with managers) so that the people that choose to go fully remote or hybrid won’t be negatively impacted.