While open floor plan offices may have been a workplace trend that has proved to be more harmful than helpful, there’s another work environment option that is on the rise; Opportunities for remote work have increased significantly in recent years. It also seems that more and more of the modern-day workforce is seeing less of a need for traditional offices. But what are the pros and cons of working remotely and should we prepare ourselves for the death of the corporate office?
Pro: working remotely offers flexibility and autonomy
While some corporations offer flexible working hours, most still require a continuous eight or nine hour work day with time put in at the office. With remote work, flexibility increases and offers greater freedom to employees who are productive at varying times of day. While the traditional office workday requires employees to be productive from roughly 9:00 to 17:00, remote work can allow morning people to work as early as they’d like, and people who are night owls can complete their tasks after the sun goes down. This flexibility also offers autonomy, where employees feel in control of their own schedule and tasks, which can provide an increased level of job satisfaction.
Con: not everyone can motivate themselves
The trick with flexibility, is that it requires employees to be self-motivated. This can be one of the biggest challenges for those who are just starting out working from home. It can be all too easy to “take a break” from a task to do a load of laundry, or watch an episode on Netflix. Staying task-focused is crucial for individuals in order to complete deliverables on time, and ensuring that productivity is high. It doesn’t matter if you have the flexibility to work from home, when it takes you twice as long to get a task done. For some, this means establishing work routines, which can then feel less flexible in the end.
Pro: working remotely offers a better work-life balance
Working from the comfort of your own home means you eliminate the need for commuting, which can be a major time and cost expense for most people. A desirable - or nonexistent - commute for work, impacts job satisfaction as well as employee's overall happiness. Working from home can also mean that employees can spend more time with their families, and require less child care. Or, it can mean that employees can travel when they’d like without needing to take time off or request vacation, as long as they are able to access wifi while abroad.
Con: remote work can bleed into personal life
But it’s important to consider that it can be necessary - but difficult - to differentiate between work and home life. Often, remote workers find themselves checking emails at all hours of the day, effectively becoming “available” nearly every waking moment. Some remote workers can struggle with this dynamic, and end up feeling burnt out because it seems that they are actually always working. It’s important for both workers and companies to establish clear expectations and guidelines. Setting a precedent in which a remote worker answers calls and emails on weekends or evenings can lead to feelings of dissatisfaction, or worse - that their employer is taking advantage of them.
It’s important to consider the pros and cons of remote work, since so many of workers these days are opting for freelance or work-from-home positions. Some of today’s recent graduates, especially in technical, design, and creative fields, are even claiming that they don’t see a need for an office at all. Allowing all staff to work from home can be extremely cost effective for companies who can significantly reduce their overhead costs. But, it’s necessary to think about what people truly want and need to do their jobs well.