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Remote working: The advantages and disadvantages of working from home


Who doesn’t want to work remotely?

Remote working or telecommuting allows you to do your job anywhere you likeㅡ in the comfort of your own home, in a coffee shop, or even while you’re traveling.

Although working on the go has many benefits for both employers and the employees, there are also some negative effects too. In this article, we go through the pros and cons.

The Good

Less stressed

stress

A study by Gallup revealed that employees are 43% less likely to feel burnout when they’re given the power to manage their workload―  what task to do, how to do it, when to do it, and how much time to spend on it. 

When remote working, you have the flexibility to manage your own work hours, which means you’ll have more time to spend with your family or have time for yourself.

Because of this better work-life balance, remote workers are far less likely to feel stressed and burnt out than office workers.

Higher productivity

Logically, a lower burnout rate will result in higher productivity.

However, there have been many debates on whether remote working can actually increase workers’ productivity or not. The naysayers argue that instead of working, remote workers will be distracted by things like television, food, and family.

Professor Bloom of Standford University did a study to find out the truth. The study was conducted at Ctrip, China’s biggest travel agency company. Bloom picked 500 employees and divided them into two groups: 250 remote workers and 250 office workers. 

The remote workers must have been working for at least 6 months and have a private room to work, with a stable internet connection.

After two years, the results showed that remote workers took shorter breaks, had less time off, worked more hours, and overall, were more productive than their counterparts.

Project collaboration tools are making this even easier, by allowing remote workers to collaborate with their colleagues and external partners anytime, anywhere from any device.

Lower costs

This works both ways, for organisations and employees. For companies, fewer people working in the office means less space is required. Therefore, they can save on rent and other employee overheads. In the case of Ctrip, they saved around £1600 on office space rent alone.

For employees, they can save on the cost of transportation, parking, and working clothes. In fact, a study by CNN found that by the end of the year, remote workers could save about £3,000 more than non-remote workers.  

Limitless talent

Avoiding project failure

In the current system, employers are more likely to hire talent from the local area, from the same city, or at least from the same country. If they can’t find the right talent for a position, often they’re forced to be content with what they have.

That’s not the case with remote working. Encouraging this way of working allows organisations to look for talented individuals from all around the world.

Remote working eliminates the barrier of location and time, opening up much bigger talent pools for recruiters to choose from.

Environmentally friendly

Not only do organisations and workers benefit, remote working also has a positive impact on the environment.

Did you know that transportation is the 2nd biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the UK? If more people work from home, the number of cars on the road for commuting will decrease, meaning cleaner air for everyone. 

The Bad

Loneliness

lonely

Despite all the flexibility and comfort it offers, remote working can be really lonely, especially for those who live by themselves. Gone are all the laughter, frustrations, and lunch breaks you share with your co-workers.

A survey revealed that 45% of remote workers have a desire to move to a less isolated working environment, like co-working space. That’s natural because humans are social creatures who crave human interaction every now and then. 

Lack of supervision

Now, this is one of the biggest concerns for organisations, which is holding them back from implementing telecommuting: who is going to supervise employees when they’re working from home?

If employees are able to steal time by watching YouTube or opening social media during work hours, God knows what they’re going to do when left alone at home. 

It really comes down to the remote workers themselves. Can they have self-discipline and focus on tasks at hand despite all that extra freedom?

There also needs to be an element of trust from employers though, as micromanaging is known to have a detrimental effect on productivity.

Conclusion

Like most things, remote working has its advantages and disadvantages. But, if the good outweighs the bad, then it’s something worth fighting for. In the case of remote working, all the cons are something that can be solved.

Organisations can arrange remote working schedules for their employees, so workers can take turns working in the office and remotely. This way, employees can still reap the benefits of remote working, while getting the human interaction and supervision they need.

If you want to work remotely, take this mini-quiz to find out whether you’ve got what it takes to be a remote worker.

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