Working Remotely: Pros and Cons (Plus Tips on Teleworking)
Updated February 16, 2023
More and more employers are allowing or even encouraging their teams to work remotely. As you progress through your career, you might have the opportunity to complete your work outside of a traditional office setting. If you're interested in learning about the advantages and drawbacks of embracing this trend, you may benefit from learning what remote employees often value about their work arrangements and what they think could improve.
In this article, we list the typical pros and cons of remote positions.
Pros of working remotely
Here are the pros employees might experience if working remotely:
People have individual rhythms to their productivity that allow them to focus better and give more effort to their work at different times of day. Remote work might require people to align schedules occasionally, but it generally enables employees to work when they can achieve the most.
Remote work also removes many of the distractions that occur in shared offices. If you, for instance, find yourself much more productive when working outside, remote work might enable you to do so.
Related: Q&A: What Is Remote Work?
Reduced commuting time
Remote work enables you to avoid any delays to your workday, conduct business virtually without interference and gain hours of personal time each week. Removing a commute from your daily schedule can improve your productivity. It can also help to relieve stress and improve your attitude at work.
Besides having more time to exercise or focus on self-care, remote work empowers you to structure your day to address your health needs. Remote work commonly enables:
Better nutrition: With less time at home, traditional employees regularly rely on fast, delivery and processed foods throughout the day. If you do your remote work from home, you can cook your own meals and eat more healthily.
Better fitness: Sitting still and looking at a computer can lead to substantial health and fitness challenges. If you work remotely, you can do quick stretching routines, exercises and meditation as needed, all of which can lessen the impact of a sedentary job.
Better emotional wellbeing: While some people enjoy working in a socially active office, others might associate traditional work environments with stress or anxiety. If you prefer quiet and less social spaces, remote work empowers you to be both productive and emotionally well.
Related: How To Write Your Remote Job Resume
Better work-life balance
Working from home can improve your overall work-life balance. For example, you can take a few hours in the middle of the day to have lunch with a friend or go to an appointment. You could also schedule interactions with colleagues, giving yourself more independent time to focus on finishing your work. This can help you feel more satisfied with how and when work affects your life.
More take-home pay
States' laws vary, but there may be some instances where you can substantially increase your take-home pay through remote work. If you work for a company in one state but live in another with no income tax, you might be able to raise your earning potential. If you have questions about your tax obligations, be sure to seek guidance to ensure you file taxes correctly.
Related: How To Find a Remote Job
Professionals who work remotely can minimize their commuting expenses, such as for riding the bus or putting gas in your personal vehicle. It might also help you save on other expenses related to your job, like getting food from cafes during lunch breaks or maintaining a professional wardrobe. Reducing some of these expenses associated with in-person work can improve your ability to save or potentially invest portions of your income.
Greater team diversity
Professionals who work remotely can often live in a range of cities, states or even countries. When a company can search for potential candidates without considering geographical boundaries, it might make it easier for that company to foster greater diversity among its staff. Having a more diverse workforce can lead to other benefits for employees too, like more creativity and open-mindedness within teams.
Improved record keeping
Most interactions that occur in a remote work environment make it easier for employees to create and preserve records of those interactions. For example, you can save written documents like emails or memos, or make recordings of video or voice calls.
Having the ability to preserve more interactions between colleagues can make it easier for employees to reference these documents later, such as to confirm deadlines or pending tasks.
More sustainable lifestyle
Working remotely can have a positive impact on the environment. Not commuting to an office means you won't need to take a car, bus or other modes of transportation that uses fuel, which can lower your carbon emissions. You might also find yourself practicing other more sustainable habits too, such as purchasing fewer lunches that come in disposable containers.
Cons of working remotely
Here are the cons that often accompany remote work arrangements:
Less human interaction
Collaborating with colleagues serves many purposes for both employees and businesses. Interactions at work help build a sense of teamwork and loyalty that can motivate people to produce better work.
They also can lead to brainstorming solutions to shared problems. You might find you miss both the social and professional benefits of being near other people while in person at work. If this happens, consider connecting with your coworkers online or arranging meetups.
While remote work often means working from home, it also could mean traveling to meet with clients or visiting project sites. For instance, you might work as a consultant for a firm that does business across the country and have to travel to a new location every month, staying in hotels. It's important to understand what remote work means for each individual employer and job title.
Reduced separation between work and home
For some people, the value of a workspace is being able to separate their work and home lives. If working remotely, you might feel that your home becomes an office that you associate with professional obligation instead of relaxation and comfort. Consider how working where you spend your personal time would affect your relationship to your home.
Increased health effects
Though some people thrive with more time and flexibility, others experience less desirable health outcomes. If you don't make use of your remote workspace to do occasional exercises and stretches, you might end up moving less than you would if you had to travel to work and move around an office.
Many offices also provide full-size keyboards, quality office chairs and dedicated work desks, which can reduce bodily strain when working. If you work remotely, consider investing in furniture and tools that can help you create an ergonomic home office.
Without the presence of a manager or other coworkers, your privacy may tempt you to engage in unproductive habits, such as leaving a television on or taking frequent breaks. These habits can prevent you from doing the best possible job you can do during work.
You may also experience distractions when roommates or family members interact with you during work hours. Some professionals appreciate the external motivation of working around other people in an office environment and might be less productive without them.
Delayed response times
You might have an urgent work-related need that requires communicating with another remote employee or a manager. As a remote employee yourself, you rely on colleagues responding to your electronic messages.
If there's a gap in communications, this could lead to wasted time or have possibly more serious consequences for accomplishing time-sensitive projects. When working in an office, there's usually someone available for guidance as everyone follows a similar schedule.
Feedback is an essential part of the learning process. In traditional work environments, managers and coworkers can point out inefficiencies in your workflow or ways to improve your job performance in real time. When working remotely, it can become harder for others to help you improve unless you actively arrange for performance reviews or individual meetings.
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