If you’re an employee sitting in a cubicle right now, you may daydream about working remotely and hold certain preconceptions: being able to take a break whenever you want, avoiding the commute or simply working where you want to.
But does the reality of remote work live up to the expectation?
To determine if remote work is right for you, consider both the pros and cons. Consider some of these primary points, both positive and negative, to determine if working remotely is the right deciison for you.
Commuting is a major source of stress in today’s society. Researchers have found that the longer you commute, the more likely you are to be stressed out.
Remote workers don’t face this problem.
If you want, you can work in the comfort of your living room, cutting your commute time down to however long it takes you to walk from one room to another. And, if you do decide to drive to a co-working or similar shared office space, it’s your choice. If you don’t feel like commuting, you don’t have to go.
Work Wherever and Whenever You Want
The option of working either at home or in an increasingly-popular co-working space is just one example of the freedom remote employment offers. Employees can work whenever and wherever they want to, which generally makes them happier and more productive.
Also, if your company allows you to work internationally, you could earn dollars and spend pesos, which makes your money go significantly further.
You can save tremendous amounts of time as well by doing things at off-hours. For example, driving to do errands in the morning when everyone else is working away instead of in the evening when everyone else gets off works and tries to do the same frees up more time. You might feel more energized as a result.
Finally, if you want to participate in hobbies that you can only do during the day, you can while working remotely -- so long as you balance with your responsibilities.
Many remote workers surveyed report that they are more productive working from home. This is because there are fewer distractions; they can choose their work environment; and they are measured based upon their performance. That third item is motivation to produce at the highest level.
Out of Sight, Out of Mind
Various studies have shown that remote workers working for companies that also have on site employees generally get promoted at a slower rate and don’t receive as many raises.
If you’re concerned about advancing your career as quickly as possible, remote work might not be for you.
Companies often will pay remote employees less by reducing how much extra compensation they have to pay for an onsite employee -- especially in cities with high costs of living, like San Francisco or New York. As a result, overall compensation for a remote employee is often lower.
Offsetting this by living in an area with low cost of living is a solution, but may also limit your living options.
One of the most difficult aspects of a remote jobs is loneliness. In an office, you typically spend time every day with people or close enough to people you can get some socialization. However, if you’re working in your living room by yourself all day, there is no need to talk to anyone and as a result, loneliness can set in.
If you’re working remotely, you will have to consciously push yourself to make time for social interaction during the work day.
Surprising that this is a con, right? Not really, if you consider the long-term implications.
Distraction in the workplace can at times be a good thing. It allows you a quick break from work which prevents you from burning out. Remote workers, perhaps surprisingly, often report feeling burned out.
Why does this happen?
It’s because if there are no distractions and you zone in and work on a project for 5 hours your brain can get fatigued; it’s simply human nature.
After considering the pros and cons of remote work, evaluate and determine if this is the right professional choice for you. While we can offer some of the positives and negatives, the decision is ultimately yours -- especially because the deciding factor comes to individual preference and personality type. Though remote work does seem attractive and has a lot of hype right now, it is not for everyone.
And, if you’re one of the people who wouldn’t like to work remotely, that’s okay. But if you do think remote work would make you happier and more productive, give it a try! Your employer might be willing to give you a remote trial run.