If you’re browsing the job boards in 2021 it’s almost guaranteed that you’re going to come across a little term called “Remote Work”. The use of the phrase “Remote Work” on job boards and in the workplace has significantly increased over the last year or so.
Social distancing orders forced and continue to force many companies to employ (no pun intended) strategies that allow their workers to work remotely. But, what exactly does remote work mean?
What Does Remote Work Mean?
Remote work refers to any work that is done outside of the usual work office and environment- making it so you are working at a remote location other than the office. This means your remote work could be conducted from your home office, couch, dining room table, coffee shop, foreign country, or even your comfy bed (although I highly discourage the last option!).
If the job you are seeking or already have only requires you to use a computer and a phone, then the odds are that you can conduct your job entirely remotely. Working remotely saves you from the hassle of having to commute every single day and spend all of your hours at the office. There are many additional benefits to this style of work which we’ll touch on later.
Remote Work vs. Work From Home
You might have also seen another term, “Work From Home”. What exactly is the difference between “Remote Work” and “Work From Home”? The short answer is, it depends on who you ask.
If you want to get technical there is a little bit of a difference.
Remote work is usually permanent. Meaning, you will never have to report to the office and in some cases aren’t even in the same state as your office. It is not uncommon today for entire teams to be working across the country (or even the world) remotely. The hiring, onboarding and the working process can be done completely remotely today with the advent of platforms such as Zoom, Teams, Google Meet, etc.
Work From Home
Work from home is seen as more of a temporary or flexible solution to a challenge or a preference. Take COVID-19 for example. Many people began working from home in 2020 once social distancing orders were put into place. A lot of those same people are still working from home. This is because a lot of employers are beginning to see the benefits of having their employees work from home. However, a lot of these employees started working at the office, before COVID-19, and then were transferred to working from home. Although a lot of employers are seeing the benefits of such an arrangement, there are still some employees that are being required to return to the office after a stretch of working from home.
Pre COVID-19, working from home might’ve been seen as a luxury for a veteran member of an organization. They would’ve been presented with the opportunity to work from home maybe 2-3 days out of the week and report to the office the remainder of the week. Some organizations might go back to this arrangement once the world is back to normal. However, in many instances at this moment working from home is not seen as a luxury, but more so of a necessity.
Remote Work Hours
There are a couple of different ways remote work hours can be structured. Check with your employer or potential employer to see what your hours and work schedule are going to look like before you secure a job or make any agreements.
It will depend on the type of work you do. In a lot of cases, the hours for remote workers are the same that they would be if they were working in the office. This might be something like a typical 9 am to 5 pm schedule with a lunch break somewhere in between. This is probably not going to be something that can be changed if your work involves directly interacting with the public between certain hours (customer service, support, sales, etc.)
There is also the possibility that your employer will allow you to work flexible hours. This means that you can work when you want to so long as you get your required work done. This style of work is going to be more suited to those that don’t directly interact with the public on a day-to-day basis. Think software developer, engineer, designers, programmers, etc.- more back-end style jobs. This can be a very big advantage if you know what times you are most productive.
Let’s say you’re a night owl and you know you’re most productive between the hours of 6 pm to 2 am. This allows you to work when your creative juices are flowing and you are in your peak state.
There might still be meetings that you are required to attend from time to time. A lot of teams will have a weekly or daily meeting or stand up. Make sure you are still in attendance at these meetings. Your employer is already doing you a great service by allowing you to work remote and flexible hours. That isn’t always an easy find!
Pros of Remote Work
Remote work comes with quite a few pros, et’s take a look at a few of them:
One of the biggest pros of remote work is that there is no commute. Commuting to and from work can take up a lot of your time. You will be amazed how much more time you have once you no longer have to commute to and from work. Imagine all of the time at red lights you’ll be saving!
According to AAA, the average American spends 58.6 hours waiting at red lights every 365 days.
Not to mention, without a commute you also don’t have to wake up as early. You can get an extra 30 minutes to an hour of shut-eye.
You Save Money
Without a commute, you’ll save money on gas, tolls, and potentially even insurance. Not only will you save money on your commute, but you’ll also save money on food. Food is a very sneaky expense that can ravage our bank account balance if we’re not careful. That trip to Starbucks for a double latte and bagel every morning begins to add up. The burrito from chipotle every day during your lunch hour also adds up! Now that you are working remotely you can buy groceries in bulk and make your food. This will save you a lot of money.
It’s More Comfortable
Let’s be honest, work clothes look great, but they don’t always feel great. It can be exhausting having to constantly wonder what you are going to wear today or tomorrow for work. When you work from home you can wear more casual clothes that bring you comfort. I want to add a disclaimer here that wearing pajamas and looking like you just rolled out of bed doesn’t always equal comfort. Doing this can hurt your mindset, the way you feel about yourself, and ultimately your comfort. Be reasonable about this. Wear comfortable clothes, but also be presentable. You’re still at work.
There’s Less Stress
Driving causes a lot of stress. Without having to drive to work, you’re already reducing your stress levels significantly.
Also, you won’t have to worry about making idle or small talk at the office. You don’t have to wonder if you’re going to run into Ken at the water cooler and have to ask him how his weekend was and then explain your weekend when you don’t want to.
Your boss won’t be there to look over your shoulder and cause you to live in constant concern that you must look like you’re being productive.
These little things add up and cause us to be more and more stressed. Remote work allows us to be where we are often most comfortable, home.
Cons of Remote Work
Remote work isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. It isn’t without its cons, here are a few:
It Can Be Lonely
Remote work can be lonely. If you live alone or the other people in your household work at an office this means you will most likely be alone all day besides the occasional Zoom call. At times this can be tough to deal with. As human beings, we are designed to be social creatures. We crave human interaction.
It Can Be Hard to Get Motivated
When you’re home alone and you have personal distractions galore, it can be hard to get motivated. Just as it is a benefit to not have someone looking over your shoulder to see what you’re working on, it can also be a con. Sometimes it can be motivating to have that bit of pressure (as long as it is within reason). It’s hard to replicate that at home. When no one is there to truly hold you accountable. You’re on your own to get motivated.
It’s Hard to Train
If you’re in a position where you have to train, show, and explain how to do things to people, this can be a lot harder to do when working remotely. When you’re in an office, you can lean over someone’s shoulder, point, and explain what they need to do. When remote, you have to do your best to explain things while sharing your screen and hope that the person on the other end is understanding what you’re showing them.
This goes both ways, you might find yourself on the receiving end and need something explained or need help. It can be hard for someone to explain and show you how to do said thing.
Is Remote Work Worth It?
The prevalence of remote work is skyrocketing in the job marketplace. Familiarize yourself with what it means, the pros, the cons and you’ll be able to make a more informed decision as to whether or not remote work is for you.
I don’t think I’ve met anyone that has turned down a job simply because it was remote. If anything, most people are actively looking for remote work. In my experience, the pros greatly outweigh the cons, and working remotely is a privilege and a pleasure.