It’s no secret that remote work has been on the rise for years.
Even before COVID-19 forced companies to shift to a work-from-home strategy, digital tools and cloud computing had already made working from home easier than ever.
These days, some companies are fully remote and many others are offering hybrid work opportunities.
All that to say: If you’ve ever dreamed about working from home but never had the chance, it’s a great time to find a remote position.
But, while there are some clear advantages to remote work, there are also some downsides.
In this article, we’ll cover both so that you can get a clear picture of the pros and cons and what working from home might mean for you.
Let’s get to it.
Benefits & advantages of remote work
Without a doubt, remote work has its upsides — both for employees and businesses.
Companies that embrace remote workforce can benefit from a larger talent pool, improved employee retention, and reduce their environmental impact.
Employees have more work options, better cost saving options, and can spend time in more comfortable environments.
Here’s a quick look at some of the upsides if you’re working from home.
Improving work/life balance
Have you ever wished you could spend more time with friends and family or focusing on your hobbies?
Between hefty commuting times, mandated breaks, and long shifts, it’s easy to feel like you’re always working and never home.
Remote work and telecommuting can be game changers if you’re looking to get more time out of your workday. As McKinsey points out, flexible working arrangements and remote work often go hand in hand. Plus, a flexible schedule can improve job satisfaction and reduce stress, which can be major factors when trying to overcome burnout and absenteeism.
The ability to slip away from the desk and check a few boxes off your to-do list is a major perk.
Going to appointments, running errands, or hitting the gym during your lunch break are easier to do when you’re working remotely from your local area, and that can make your breaks more fruitful and fulfilling.
Plus, if you’re a working parent, a remote job can make childcare easier to manage since you can telework while taking care of the kids.
It costs money to work. Between transportation, work attire, office lunches, daycare, and other expenses it’s easy for the bills to add up.
Working away from a traditional office allows you to pocket those savings from the comfort of your living room. Keep your car parked in the driveway. Eat lunches you prepare from food that you like. Reduce wear and tear on your dress clothes. Lower your carbon footprint.
How much can you really save working remotely?
In truth, it depends. You’ll probably pay more for groceries and internet and, according to one study, about half of remote workers actually spend more on childcare when working from home.
If you’re transitioning into the gig economy, working from home as a freelancer also often carries certain tax advantages. That’s because your home can be treated as an office when it comes to claiming tax-deductible expenses. Unfortunately, this won’t apply to full-time or part-time company employees.
But the opportunity to cut costs is definitely more prevalent in a remote scenario. According to 2021 research from LendingTree, driving to the office alone is costing millions of Americans more than $10,000 per year, a shockingly high amount, which is practically unavoidable if you need to be in the office.
Ability to create the perfect office space
Working from home means that you can ditch cubicles and open office concepts — and that’s a big plus in our books!
While you probably can’t set up your office at the local coffee shop every day, being able to choose the equipment that’s best suited to you can allow working from home to be more comfortable than being in the office.
If you’re an employee, your company may have some say in your working arrangement, but many employers will provide a stipend for ergonomic office equipment if you’re expected to conform to certain standards or guidelines.
Even so, you’ll have more flexibility than you would in the office — so make sure you use it. Ever wanted to try a two-monitor setup to be more productive at work? You can even turn your iPad into a secondary monitor with the right equipment.
Fewer interruptions from colleagues
When you’re doing work that requires deep focus, you’re likely to want a quiet work environment. In that regard, silence is golden. According to some studies, silence can even lead your brain to produce new cells.
Unfortunately, quiet times of uninterrupted work can be hard to come by in an office, where people are constantly talking around you or interrupting you to ask for things. While the ‘buzz’ of the office can at times be motivating, you’ll probably want some measure of peace when you’re trying to get things done.
Working from home gives you the opportunity to focus on completing your most demanding work interruption, and that can lead to higher productivity and better results in the long run.
Greater location flexibility
One of the biggest perks for you as a remote employee is the ability to have greater flexibility when it comes to choosing where to live.
It’s true that you may not have complete flexibility, with each company having their own remote work policy. For example, while Meta have executives spread across the globe, other companies will want remote teams to remain in the same country or state for tax purposes.
Time zones will also place some practical constraints on where you can live, unless you’re a freelancer or entrepreneur who doesn’t need to worry as much about fitting in with a team’s work schedule.
However, even if you’re not a digital nomad sipping margaritas on a tropical beach, location flexibility can have significant benefits. No longer having the daily commute allows you to live in a rural or suburban area, where you can enjoy lower cost housing and a potentially better quality of life.
With all that in mind, it’s unsurprising that research from Upwork shows that 19 million Americans are planning to relocate because they can now work remotely.
Downsides of remote work
No solution is perfect, and remote working is no exception.
However, as you’ll see, the downsides for remote work are largely situational. Working from a home office may not be ideal when you don’t have the square footage to support a home office. If you’re glued to your work, it can be harder to switch off at the end of the day.
Here’s a closer look at where remote work might fall a bit short.
Harder to collaborate and build key workspace relationships
While avoiding office-based distractions is a benefit to working from home, you can also miss out on collaboration and team-building opportunities.
You might be rolling your eyes at the idea of mandatory fun (we’ve all been there), never meeting colleagues in person can make it harder to build the relationships needed for a strong team.
Sometimes, hosting face-to-face meetings over video conferencing just isn’t enough. Plus, when using Slack and other messaging channels, it’s easy to misread communications, which can lead to confusion or discomfort.
Office politics are also impossible to ignore: Your career can stagnate if you’re a remote worker in a company where most of your colleagues are in the office.
Often, managers will favor those who they’ve built close personal relationships with in offline environments. Even if management tries to be inclusive of remote workers, there will be some disconnect between the office team and the WFH team.
More difficult for those in cramped or shared accommodation
For some, having a good home office environment simply isn’t possible.
If you’re living with roommates or trying to work in a shared environment, little things can become a major issue. When your roommates won’t quiet down or their internet usage is causing the wi-fi to buffer, your workplace performance can take a hit.
Younger workers and those on lower incomes are also more likely to live in cramped shared accommodation, where noise and the lack of real estate for a home office can be major setbacks. One study found that 72% of under-25s don’t have a dedicated room for working, making remote work a less-than-ideal solution for this group.
Some companies offer remote workers the ability to use a coworking space in their local area, which would allow you to enjoy a higher quality workspace and befriend other members — but it’s not a surefire thing.
Plus, at the point where you’re commuting to a coworking space, aren’t you really just heading back to the office (even if it’s a remote location)?
Potential for work and leisure time to blur
When you’re in the office, clocking out at the end of the day provides a sense of closure. But disconnecting from work is much harder when all you have to do is move straight from your desk to the sofa.
Especially if you’re a freelancer or if your job didn’t provide office equipment, you might even be using the same computer and browser for both work and leisure! This leads not only to being distracted during the workday, but also makes it harder to permanently ‘log off’ at the end of the day.
It’s a common problem. According to research published by NordVPN, workers in the UK and US both spend 11 hours a day working, compared to nine hours a day in the UK and eight in the US before the pandemic began.
The key to stopping work from creeping into your leisure time is to establish healthy boundaries and routines, according to experts.
Go for a walk before and after the work day and set boundaries for responding to emails and calls outside of work hours. Unplugging is essential to doing better work, so find ways to draw a bright line between work and leisure when they share the same space.
Less self-motivated/self-reliant workers may struggle
Struggling to get to your desk each morning? Can’t find the motivation to work?
As great as it might sound, WFH can be a challenge if you struggle with self-motivation. Some people need team motivation or a tried-and-true routine to stay productive and on task.
Less experienced workers may find it’s harder to get the thorough onboarding and training they need to succeed when working remotely. Being in the office allows you to overhear conversations between senior staff members, providing information that is very helpful for career progression.
This downside can be mitigated if you’re not afraid to ask for more help when needed.
However, keep in mind that some companies will be better equipped than others to deal with requests for support from remote workers. Good managers should be able to provide assistance when it comes to training or wellbeing issues, but companies that offer limited remote positions may struggle to provide resources and support.
Ultimately, while there are upsides and downsides to remote work, your mileage will vary depending on your personal needs.
It’s also worth keeping in mind that remote work isn’t an either/or situation. Many jobs offer hybrid working models where employees spend a few days in the office and a few days at home. Some companies may even let you pick what schedule is right for you.
The same is true for your home office.
When you’re setting up a new home workspace, make sure that it’s a great fit. Use Luna Display to add more screen space to your office by turning your iPad into a wireless secondary display for your Mac or PC.
It’s never been easier to get more real estate for your digital workspace. Check out Luna Display right here.