It is estimated that around 5 million people work remotely in the United States according to research conducted in 2021.
If you’re thinking of joining them, then it can help to weigh up the pros and cons of this kind of work, so that you make a balanced decision.
The Pros And Cons Of Remote Working
The pros and cons of remote working vary from person to person but this list encompasses the mains pros and cons, both from an employee’s perspective and that of the business they work for.
|The Pros Of Remote Work
|The Cons Of Remote Work
|Improved work-life balance
|No face-to-face team interaction
|No commuting and no need for office space
|Can be “forgotten” when it comes to promotions
|Improved employee loyalty and retention
|Harder to access useful data
|Potential boost to productivity
|Can feel lonely and isolated
|Decentralized and more flexible working structure
|Potential to “fall behind” the industry as a whole
The Cons Of Remote Working
So, let’s get the cons out of the way first, shall we?
There are some real downsides to remote working and while you can easily overcome some of them with a bit of planning and negotiation with your employer, it’s not guaranteed to be an easy task.
Some of the main disadvantages of remote working are:
- Lack of face-to-face interaction with the team. Human beings are social creatures and one of the big benefits of office work is the time we spend around our team. This allows us to learn each other’s strengths and weaknesses and to communicate effectively. While it’s not impossible for teams to bond and work well remotely, it needs some real effort particularly when it comes to communication. And sometimes? It’s still going to fail and the office team will go out to celebrate a win after work and the remote team is still going to feel left out.
- Being forgotten when it comes to promotions. Bosses and managers are only human and when it comes to recommending people for promotion, they are often more likely to recommend the colleague in the office that they see slaving away over a keyboard all day every day than the one that works just as hard from home but that they can’t see. Remote workers regularly say they feel passed over for promotion.
- It can feel lonely and isolated. We’re not all cut out to work from home all day, every day and without the social interactions of the office, you can end up feeling really down. If this is you, then you’re going to need to find other social outlets to replace the office. This could be anything from joining a club or society to regular visits to a coffee shop or bar. It’s up to you, but as social creatures, we all need some human interaction in our lives.
- Getting access to data can be harder. You’d be amazed how frustrating it can be when you just need a single piece of company information but you can’t track anyone down online to give it to you. In an office, you’d just shout the question from desk to desk, but at home, that’s not happening.
- Falling behind your industry. Much of what we know about our industry isn’t through formalized learning, it’s what we pick up at the water cooler, at office meetings, etc. and when you work from home, you lose out on much of this information. It’s hard to replace this kind of informal learning too, it requires a lot of effort on your part to stay current with your industry.
The Pros Of Remote Working
There are plenty of benefits to remote working too, mind you, and they include:
- Improved work-life balance. We looked at what we mean by “work-life balance” recently and one thing that can be a huge benefit of remote work is getting this balance right. However, it’s not an automatic benefit and you may need to think about how you find and maintain this balance or you may find that work and life never seem to feel “separate” again.
- No more commuting (and no more office space). This is a huge benefit to many people, with commuters often spending hours a day getting to and from the office, they get this time back. And while this may not be a big deal to your employer, the fact that they no longer need to rent office space for you, should be. Office space is expensive.
- Better loyalty and employee retention. If home-working or remote working (we examine the difference between these forms of work here) make someone happy they’re more likely to stay in their job and be happy about it than someone who is resentful and stuck in the office.
- You may be more productive. Not everyone is more productive when working remotely, you need a fair amount of self-discipline to stay the course but if you have it? You will find that you can get far more done between 9 and 5 without endless meetings, office chit-chat, etc.
- More flexible working and decentralized work structure. This can be a big deal both for you and for your manager/boss. The ability to work anywhere can be used to help you better assist clients or colleagues. It can also give you a greater degree of autonomy and decision making in your role, freeing up your boss to do other things.