Is working remotely the future?

Cameron Will
Published 
March 20, 2020
I

t’s stated on Gallup's How Millennials Want to Work and Live report, that millennials "are not willing to sacrifice life for work. They look to companies that enable them to integrate the two." Gallup research on women in the workplace finds that 53% of stay-at-home mothers say flexible hours or work schedules are a "major factor" in their ability to take a job, and only a third of working mothers say their employers are doing "very well" at allowing them to work from home when they need to. 

Flexible work can help employees find more time with family members and loved ones as well. Parents and caregivers who work remote, flexible schedules are often able to build their careers around time with their family and taking care of loved ones, rather than squeezing in personal time around their jobs.

Besides the homebound, remote work includes employees working outside the office several days a week from multiple locations, freelancers who permanently work from a variety of locations, the co-working-space crowd, and digital nomads (whom I'll cover momentarily).

Remote Work in IT

The rising popularity of remote work and companies seeking out remote employees comes as no surprise as new, innovative technology makes telecommuting and virtual collaboration easier and more effective than ever before. This is especially true for IT/Tech professionals since the industry currently ranks second for those embracing remote work. In 2016, 57 percent of employees working in the industry spent some of their time working remotely. Since then it has steadily climbed.

Along with changing workplace expectations, there are a variety of components that have led to the rise in remote work in IT and Tech. As more and more highly specialized Tech professionals demand flexibility when it comes to their work schedule and location, companies will be forced to reconsider their traditional policies.

 

Pros and Cons of working remotely

As good as it sounds, working remotely has some challenges. Below is a list of both pros and cons.

Pros

Elimination of long commuting/avoiding traffic 

Long commuting adversely impacts the performance of the worker. Being stuck in traffic often negatively affects working hours as most of the time workers have to leave the house early to avoid traffic and get to work tired and frustrated. So by working remotely, workers cut out the traveling time, and stress that comes along with it, thus increasing productivity.

Flexible schedule

Workers can work whenever, take a break and still be able to catch up on work at whatever time of the day. And by allowing employees to work flexible hours, it can increase employee retention rate, which also increases the company’s productivity.

Working from anywhere

With the rise of technology, the internet can be accessed from almost anywhere, thus making it easy to work even at a mall, coffee shops, libraries, and co-working spaces.

Spending time with family and loved ones

Parents, especially moms, get a chance to spend more time with their kids, planning their work around kids’ activities.

Less distraction

There are no distracting phone calls, colleagues and other interruptions, like the receptionist letting you know that the sandwich guy is here, even though you have never bought a sandwich and probably never will. 

Productivity

There is more productivity as expectation is to be disciplined as well as meeting the deadline or completing a day’s work, which prevents you from slacking off.


Cons/Challenges

Communication

Remote work lacks the interpersonal aspect, which means that communication gets a lot harder. It’s not something that is impossible to conquer, but definitely something to keep in mind and constantly work on. This means that communication in a remote team needs to be dealt with as a separate issue, and discussed regularly within the team.

Power cuts
With the current situation where there are more power cuts scheduled, most workers don’t have backup power to carry on with work when there is load-shedding. This affects production a lot as time is lost.

Reliable internet connection

Remote work requires reliable, secure at-home broadband connections that can power video conferences. This can be problematic if you are situated somewhere that has a restricted internet connection.

Lack of relationship among coworkers

Working together in an office provides employees with the opportunity to bond over shared experiences and build camaraderie with each other. Working remotely makes it more difficult to establish this relationship among coworkers, even when a company chooses to utilize teleconferencing, online chat systems, and other communication tools.

Tips for working from home

Don’t underestimate face time. Go to meetings, events, happy hours, training, and other outings as often as you can. “There are fewer such opportunities for spontaneous team building when working remotely,” says Giugliano, “so it is important to be proactive in finding ways to engage your co-workers.” 

The next best thing? Pick up the phone to congratulate someone after a job well done or the completion of a project rather than sending an impersonal email or IM.

Keep it professional. Even if you don’t have a dedicated office, try to set up a workspace and make it off-limits to the rest of your household while you’re working. There’s nothing worse than being on an important work call only to have the doorbell ring, the dog barking, and the kids screaming in the background.

Be responsive. Get in the habit of sending a prompt reply whenever you get an email, even if it’s just to say, “Got it,” or, “I’ll get back to you by noon,” says Giugliano. And, do your best to be available for conference calls or other collaborations, even if you don’t have strict work hours.

Set specific touchpoints with your team. It’s smart to set a time each day/week for regular check-ins with your manager and/or your colleagues. That will not only help you stay accountable, but it will also remind your office counterparts that you’re still an important part of the team.

Always strive to be a better worker

By entering into a work-from-home situation with the right mindset—knowing you may actually be putting in more effort than before—you can do a great job and enjoy the benefits that go along with it. 

References

Vox

Gallup

Toggl

Mondo

Monster


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