As we are recovering from the shot heard round the world of COVID-19, we see a shift from working in an office space to working remote. An even more interesting phenomena is graduating from college and starting your first full-time job as a remote employee. I didn’t meet my co-workers in person until I had been working for Zion & Zion for over two months.
Oftentimes, I think that working from home is glorified in mainstream media. It is said to be more productive, easier, flexible, and more productive. I do see the benefits and the positives to working from home, but I think there are also many drawbacks. Sometimes its hard to dissociate work life from home life, as I spend all day in the same place I eat, sleep, work, and play. I don’t like sitting in my house, usually alone, all day. It is lonely, there’s no one to chat with in passing, I sense a loss of comradery. I communicate with my coworkers on a need-by-need basis for the most part. It’s hard to get to know someone over Slack, email, and Zoom. Although, productivity may have increased, at what cost is it to the work experience? Will I never know what it’s like to work with co-workers in an office space or give a presentation in a conference room to a client?
But then again, there are meaningful upsides.
Here is my list of pros and cons to being a remote employee:
Positives of Working from Home Full-Time
You can virtually work from anywhere
One of the best parts of working from home is the ability to work from anywhere. This means companies can hire the best employees suited for the job without asking them to relocate. The pool for employees fit for the job becomes a lot larger and the pool for employee talent is significantly greater. That can be seen first-hand, as we started expanding here at Zion & Zion. It gives employees freedom and flexibility; they are not tied to one place. Remote employees are given the ability to travel. I can go visit my family for a week in Idaho without taking time off, which makes traveling and configuring vacation time a lot easier.
Less Time Spent Commuting
Let’s face it, it’s a lot easier to roll out of bed and walk over to your work computer than to spend time getting ready each morning and driving to the office. Driving to and from the office really adds up over time. When an employee commutes 30 minutes to and from the office, that is an hour out of the day still spent doing a work-related activity and most commutes are longer than that. Remote working has eliminated the need to commute, which saves the employee time every day. Now, it is up to the individual how they will spend their extra time once they are no longer commuting.
Remote employees have so much more freedom than when in the office. I can make appointments whenever I want and take my dog for a walk during the day. Some of my co-workers have the freedom to take their kids to and from school, when convenient, and can be home when their kids get back from school. In some cases, if meetings and timing permits, I can split time and work in the evening, if I have something I need to get to during the day. The workday becomes more flexible than being tied to a solid eight hours, at least in an office. Working from home allows, in a lot of cases, for you to prioritize your personal life and not be restricted to configuring personal things around your work schedule.
Negatives of Working from Home Full-Time
I think one of the hardest parts of working remote for me is the loss of comradery. Most days are spent alone in front of a computer screen in my house. Even as an introvert, it is hard not being able to interact with my coworkers in a natural setting. According to an article by the Society for Human Resource Management, “A survey by LinkedIn analyzed the impact of workplace relationships for 11,500 full-time professionals between the ages of 18 and 65 in 14 countries. Forty-six percent said that work friendships make them happier.” It also says that there is a direct connection between people’s work friendships and effort put into their job. It is definitely very different and hard to get used to always working alone.
Separating Work Life from Home
Working in the same place I live is challenging. It’s hard not be distracted by regular home duties. But also, it is hard to truly end work when my workday is done. It is not as black and white as picking up my things and leaving the office. Instead, it is very gray; it is easy to work more hours and revisit work later in the evenings. I catch myself checking my email and logging back on to update tasks when I have completed my full workday. It’s also easy to think I’m spending time with my family when I’m working from my laptop or my phone. There isn’t a clear distinction anymore from office life and home life. For myself, I spend more time working that I might if I worked in an office.
Decrease in Motivation
As I have worked from home, alone, for 5 months, I have felt a decrease in motivation. There isn’t anyone to hold me accountable when I get distracted. No reason to dress up and no reason I can’t just roll out of bed to begin working immediately. At least in an office setting, when you’re with other coworkers they are trying to stay on task like you. But when it’s just yourself, it’s easy to be distracted by anything and everything around you. Often, I feel like it’s hard to remain motivated and dedicated when completing a project. Working with others provides a sense of accountability and motivation, and I don’t find that at home.
Working remote is an interesting phenomenon, that has completely changed the working world forever. There are both advantages and disadvantages to working from home full-time. It will be interesting to see how it all plays out within the next few years and how companies will change. According to an article by Forbes, “By 2025, an estimated 70% of the workforce will be working remotely at least five days a month.” We must learn to adapt and change as the work environment takes this major shift, and we will find ways to cope with the different challenges we face as remote employees.