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Is working remotely as great as everyone says it is?

Published: 22 June 2022

Author: Jenny Finch

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So, you think you want to work from home. That isn’t surprising. Studies suggest it’s what a lot of people want. As we know, the COVID-19 pandemic prompted a shift to the remote work model, forcing even employers who were dead set against the idea to give it a go. And, whether those employers liked it or not, their employees did.

Some stats from around the world:

77% of U.S. workers place at least some importance on the option for remote work with 21% saying it's absolutely essential when determining if a role is right for them.

In the UK, 37% of workers say they want to work from home some of the time after the pandemic, and 20% want to do so full time, for a total of 57% of people who want to be able to work from home.

A survey of Irish workers found that 37% said they would change jobs for remote work, even if it meant fewer promotion opportunities and 30% would change jobs even if it meant a pay cut.

91% of Canadian women surveyed would prefer to work mostly or partly remotely, 45% said they would quit their jobs if asked to return to the office full time.

Employers apparently have other ideas. A Microsoft survey of 31,000 people in 31 countries conducted in early 2022 revealed that about 50% of leaders say their company already requires or is planning to require employees to return to full time in-person work in the next year.

A hybrid model

Fortunately, many people would be happy with the compromise of a hybrid model. This can mean that employees work part of their time in the office and part of the time remotely, or it can mean that some people work entirely in the office while others work remotely. According to the Microsoft New Future of Work Report 2022, a majority of respondents to different surveys from a variety of populations report wanting to work partly remotely and partly in-office.

The advantages and disadvantages of working remotely

While many people think working from home is the ideal setup, it’s not for everyone. Even if  most people want to work from home full or part time, most people does not mean all people,

Let’s take a look at some of the pros and cons of working remotely:

Disadvantages of working remotely

Isolation and loneliness: Working from home can be lonely. If you’re living alone you can probably go days without seeing another person in real life. In a survey of 2,000 US and UK office workers, 67% of workers aged 18 – 34 said they find it harder to make friends and maintain relationships with colleagues while working remotely and 71% said colleagues are more distant. Eighty-one percent of younger workers said they would feel more isolated without time in the office in future. Some people need people.

Burnout: When working from home it can be difficult to know when to shut down the computer and walk away, as there’s no division between work life and home life. This can lead to overwork and burnout. It doesn’t help if your managers and colleagues are creating a culture of always working by communicating day and night. It can feel like there’s no way out and that you’re going to look like the lazy one if you opt out.

Distractions: It takes a lot of discipline to keep going when working from home and to get things done efficiently and on time. Some workers report having difficulty concentrating. It can be hard not to get distracted by Netflix, books, and housework that needs doing. Nobody’s looking and that can make taking an extended break look very attractive. Or maybe your partner is chattering at you all day, making it hard to focus on what you’re supposed to be doing.

Fewer opportunities for on-the-job learning: Working onsite allows for learning from colleagues and superiors in a way that remote work doesn’t. Zoom meetings and Slack exchanges can be useful but don’t provide the sort of day-to-day interaction we get in an office, where you can turn to the person next to you and ask a spontaneous question or simply observe someone working and learn as you do. Becoming great at what you do can take longer if noone is there to coach and help you on a daily basis.

Lack of motivation: Some people have no trouble doing what needs to be done and sticking to a schedule and meeting deadlines, while others need that bustle of the office and the threat of getting caught doing nothing to motivate them to work. When nobody is breathing down your neck, it can be hard to keep moving. This is where those distractions win out.

Advantages of working remotely:

Cost savings: For many people, it’s probably cheaper to work from home, particularly with fuel prices being what they are. You don’t have to buy lunch, which a lot of people do every day, despite those great intentions to meal plan and bring it from home, and you don’t have to buy as many clothes. While there are some reports floating around about the extra cost of electricity and heat for remote workers, this just isn’t convincing as a comparable expense to going into an office every day. Unless you walk to work and bring your lunch every day, in which case, office work might be less expensive.

Time savings: Commuting can be brutal. Both Toronto, Canada, and London, UK, are among the cities with the longest commutes in the world. If you are traveling one hour each way, five days a week, that’s 10 hours a week or more than 500 hours a year spent commuting. That’s enough time to learn to play the piano or train for a whole new career! 

More time with family: The pressures of balancing work and childcare aside, working remotely allows people to spend more time with kids and family. If you have young children at home, you can take breaks and lunches with them, and no commute means your time is yours as soon as you clock out. This is an appealing prospect for those missing time with loved ones while time ticks away in the car or on a bus or train.   

Increased productivity: Many people report being much more productive when working from home. A survey of remote teams found that 65% said they felt more productive at home than they did in the office. This is obviously easier if you’re someone who doesn’t need motivational support and can avoid distractions.

Schedule flexibility: There is a great deal to be said in favour of being able to make your own schedule. Not everyone works best on a 9-5 schedule and remote working means you can get things done on your own time, whether that means starting at 6 am or working nights until 3 in the morning.

For companies, there are different advantages and disadvantages. One plus is access to a greater talent pool, as allowing people to work from anywhere means they can live anywhere in the world.

Is remote work right for you as an employer or job seeker?

Whether you’re job searching or hiring, remote working is likely to come up as part of the discussions. In many cases, a hybrid model will be ideal.

It’s important for both employers and employees to know the pros and cons of remote work that are specific to their particular situation, and to listen to each other, in order to decide what arrangement will work best.
 

Let’s figure it out together. At Raymond George Agency we work with a range of employers who have different needs and expectations. Whatever suits you best, we will help you find the people you need to succeed.

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