Remote work is here to stay. Some companies resist the evolution of employment, but many embrace it. Regardless of industry, employers and employees alike ask meaningful questions about the benefits and trade-offs of remote work.
At WiFi Artists, we love remote work and believe its benefits far outweigh the costs. “Costs” is a misleading word because remote work saves both companies and team members money in the short and long term. Remote work is a flexible working arrangement that empowers employees to work from a remote location outside of corporate offices. The terms work from home (WFH), telecommuting, and remote work are used interchangeably. Remote work arrangements offer significant benefits for professionals who can complete all their work offsite. Organizations have seen increased employee retention, improved productivity, and cost savings on physical resources. Whether temporary or permanent, part-time or full-time remote work introduces more flexibility in how people make a living. Remote work programs require new cooperation between companies and team members to manage equipment, network security, performance expectations, and professional development. Luckily, some of the brightest minds and leading organizations build remote teams and share thought leadership with instructions to navigate the new terrain. The message is clear for the 2020s: work does not have to be anywhere you go.
What are the benefits of remote work?
1. Improved work-life balance
Going to a physical office requires emotional labor and doesn’t guarantee productivity. In addition, professional attire and continual distractions don’t empower everyone professionally or personally. Too often, going to a physical office means hiding or deprioritizing personal matters. Offices can create the need to continuously pretend things are okay, even in times of difficulty.
Showing up for family, ourselves, and our communities is essential. Working remotely makes it easier to do things like:
Check-in on a family member in the middle of the day
Fill a prescription between meetings
Lay down for a short nap during lunch
Investing in personal wellness makes us better family members, friends, people, and team members. But, of course, remote work makes that a lot easier. 2. Minimal or no commute stress
One significant stress for office workers is getting to the front door. Unfortunately, not every professional has reliable transportation or access to public transportation. Getting reimbursed for monthly public transportation costs is relatively common if you live in a major city. However, employers don’t compensate you for the hour-plus commute each day. Car maintenance isn’t cheap. Inclimate weather and accidents can take even more time away from our personal lives. Being able to open a laptop and be at work is infinitely less stressful (mentally, physically, and financially) than commuting to the office. Cheers to our time and income going to our passions rather than transportation.
3. Location flexibility
The most crucial advantage of remote work for many professionals is location flexibility. Often, employers request team members reside in a specific time zone, city, or state. However, other companies and individual functional groups embrace a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. Remote employees can use their location flexibility to:
Travel extensively or become a digital nomad
Develop new hobbies and passions based on location
Prioritize cheaper cost of living or homeownership
Invest income in passions rather than living costs
4. Increased productivity and performance
Every professional thrives in a different environment, and many self-motivated, driven professionals have found that remote work suits them best. Their newfound freedom motivates them to be efficient and focused during work hours. After years of watching the clock, waiting for the workday to end
What are the trade-offs of remote work?
1. Feeling disconnected
Some remote workers report feeling out of touch with their company since shifting to a remote work arrangement. Feeling lost is often not the fault of remote workers. Leaders and managers need to communicate clear expectations and give employees open lines to communication. Information silos form quickly inside an organization regardless of size. Some think sharing a physical office solves these problems, but that’s an oversimplified view. There is so much technology available to send messages, videos, and share information. However, technology cannot fix poor culture. Team members should participate fully in meetings, ask meaningful questions, and reach out when they feel lost. If managers can’t empower team members remotely (making them feel connected, valued, and heard), they would likely experience the same in an office setting.
2. Networking challenges
Similarly, it can be challenging to build a professional network as a fully remote worker. LinkedIn is useful for introductions, but employees have to grow their connections list intentionally. Networking online often involves meeting people with only loose ties. Talking to strangers and establishing a professional brand is intimidating for some. Networking between just two professionals in a physical space can be more effective, especially for new professionals. Innovative organizations prioritize networking across departments. For example, there are great Slack Communities to learn an industry better and make connections outside your organization. These spaces give you access to job postings, thought leadership, and content specific to your role. Remote working evolves a bit every year. However, all the trade-offs on this list are addressable when proactive professionals connect with positive company cultures.
3. Need for self-direction
Lastly, remote workers need to self-direct and navigate uncertain situations more often. Not every manager knows how to manage remote teams. A lack of role clarity or clear deliverables requires critical thinking and self-direction. The ability to “do more with less” and move projects from start to finish are essential in remote jobs. These skills can be learned in person or remotely. Currently, senior employees are given more bandwidth for remote work because they have more experience navigating uncertainty. However, digital literacy lends itself to remote work regardless of age. Digital natives and Gen Z have a head start in this department. There’s never been a better time to be a remote worker. Learning to negotiate for remote work, deliver quality, and build connections is challenging for some. For WiFi Artists, it’s all in a day’s work, and the benefits far outweigh the tradeoffs.
Allowing for adjustments and investing in new routines makes remote work possible. There are many benefits of remote work, but it’s not for everyone.
Wifi Artists take advantage of our remote work agreements as best we can. Changing one’s “home base” regularly keeps things fresh, but we stay long enough to feel comfortable in one location and develop a sense of routine.
If you’re interested in joining a collective of remote workers who share cultural experiences and travel together, click here to apply for upcoming WiFi Artists programs.