Apple, Facebook, and Twitter are not the only companies that asked employees to work from home during the coronavirus pandemic. Smaller businesses, governments’ offices, and schools have followed the CDC’s suggestion to self-quarantine.
With many professionals switching to remote work, telecommunication is at an all-time high. Applications like Slack and Google Hangouts allow co-workers to stay connected without being in the office. Google Drive and Dropbox make it as easy to share files as pushing a piece of paper across a desk.
But, how successful are remote workers compared to in-house staff?
Conjure an image of a “work from home” employee. Many worrisome managers picture a distracted subordinate in pajamas watching daytime television.
However, experienced remote and freelance workers would disagree with their concerns about productivity. A two-year study of 500 workers found that remote workers:
- Took fewer sick days.
- Took shorter breaks.
- Asked for less time off.
- Often worked longer hours.
While an office environment may produce an open exchange of ideas, the majority of remote workers find being at home less distracting. Employees were also able to balance work and home life better after gaining back time spent commuting.
Businesses can also save thousands on rent and utilities by forgoing brick-and-mortar workplaces. Likewise, workers spend less on fuel and transportation, clothing, and food costs.
Downsides of Working From Home
If remote work is so great, then why don’t we work from home all the time?
The biggest complaint remote workers have is the feeling of isolation. Working from home can feel lonely – especially when the country is in quarantine mode. Spending weeks to months alone may mean fewer distracts but make workers feel stir-crazy.
Remote workers can also feel like they’ve lost their sanctuary. Rather than the feeling of relief walking through the front door after eight hours in the office, employees can start to associate their home with the stresses of work. Likewise, some workers have a difficult time unplugging after working hours.
While the advancement in technology has made remote work easier, not all jobs can be from home. Additionally, many work-from-home positions are contract-based, and balancing freelance finances can be tricky for novices.
The Future of Remote Work
The coronavirus may be giving us a glimpse into the future. Since 2005, the remote worker population increased by 173 percent. Creative jobs are cultivating more digital nomads, such as:
- Multi-media content producers.
- Web and graphic designers.
- Online and phone customer service representatives.
Location-based jobs limit the number of prospective employees to locals and those willing to relocate. Businesses utilizing a remote staff can have the best in their industry from all over the world. Similarly, employees in different time zones can be beneficial for 24-hour businesses.
As housing expenses rise, it is expensive to live in cities like New York and Los Angeles. Employers may offer lower salaries to workers in more rural areas while employees save money on commuting, clothing, food, and childcare.