With the explosion of freelance work and the gig economy, in a culture that is prioritizing freedom more and more over white-picket fences, there are many factors to be weighed before swapping out khakis for sweatpants. For one, it means no more commute, no more awkward office parties and no more coworkers microwaving fish in the breakroom. But at the same time, there can be drawbacks. So is remote work the liberated lifestyle we’re lead to believe, and who does best in a remote work situation?
Taking Care of Business, Every Day
Are you a self-starter? Can you stay organized on your own? Or do you thrive in prescribed structures and rigid routines? If you’re of the latter category, don’t pack up your desk just yet. Turning a spare bedroom into your new office will bring plenty of perks, but unfortunately, it means the distractions of your day-to-day life is now within earshot. Discipline is the name of the game on both sides — either if you need more of it, or the ability to know when to unplug and live your life.
Since your office is your home and your home is your office, it’s important to know when it’s time to work, and when it’s time to stop. In the same way that one can find themselves accidentally three episodes deep into a new Netflix series after they got up to get another cup of coffee, so too can they be hunched over their inbox at midnight, thinking they’ll just answer a couple more emails, before bed. You may not be your own boss, but you are your own supervisor.
Additionally, you must be your own best friend as well. Although you may think you’d never miss them, those little water-cooler chats and happy-hour gossip help to give a sense of community, and the opportunity to socialize. One’s workplace is often the center of their social circle, so if you don’t find a way to rub elbows elsewhere, you will start to feel the effects. While sage advice for anyone, it’s especially important for the work-from-home-crowd: go find local meetups, join a club, or pick up a new hobby that will give you fresh faces to interact with on a weekly basis. Remote work can be liberating, but it can also be isolating.
Free At Last
If you’ve made it this far, you’re probably ready to set sail for an untethered professional life, and for good reason. The most-noted benefit of working remotely is the ability to take your work with you wherever you go (as long as it has internet). No more worrying about how to stretch your time-off to meet your lofty travel aspirations, instead you can go wherever the wind takes you — just remember to bring the proper outlet adapters. If you have kids and a mortgage that keep you in the same area code most of the time, you’ll no longer have to worry about who’s taking the kids to soccer practice or dropping them off at school. You can start doing your errands in the middle of the day, without having to fight the after-work crowd at your local grocery store.
Speaking of rush hour, you can say goodbye to that pesky commute. You might even be able to downsize and get rid of your car, depending on your location and situation. Even if now you can bike or take public transportation every day, working from home means at least more free time, and probably some cost savings as well. According to a 2018 report from EducatedDriver.org, the average American spends 4.35 hours a week commuting, and over $2,500 in estimated commute-related costs.
You may not notice it, but your eight-hour-a-day obligation to make ends meet has plenty of costs you haven’t considered yet. Beyond the car or the bus pass, how often do you roll out of bed, not bothered enough to make a cup of coffee and opting to grab one on your way in? Did you forget to pack your lunch again, for the third time this week? Beyond the nickels and dimes of day-to-day luxuries, you could perhaps cut back on even more. Some remote workers are able to reduce or eliminate daycare and after-school child care costs now that they’re no longer bound to a nine-to-five lifestyle. The domino effect can be tremendous — how many times are you totally worn out from a long day at work, and go out to eat or have something delivered for dinner? Maybe you’re good about avoiding that, but still try and cut corners by picking up overpriced, ready-made options from the store? The dividends of having more time and freedom to navigate daily tasks will not only be a boon to your bank account, but also your overall health.
Your Own Shot-Caller
Let’s face it. For the majority of people, their job runs the show. It dictates what you can and can’t do, where you can go, when you have to get up, and when you need to go to sleep. That’s not the worst thing; I imagine most people function quite well on a Monday-to-Friday existence. But why not live a little? Start a couple hours late on Wednesday without worrying if the two (or five) margaritas you had at Taco Tuesday with your friends are going to leave you hungover during your morning meeting. You can work extra on Thursday so you only need to do a half-day Friday. Working remotely doesn’t mean that all your time constraints necessarily disappear; you probably will still have meetings and clock-based obligations, but it will certainly give you more wiggle room. It allows you to live a little, to be spontaneous. To go somewhere last minute — no need for notice — just grab your laptop and hit the road.
Telecommuting continues to expand, as both life and work styles adapt to a growingly interconnected world. According to 2017 statistics from Global Workplace Analytics, over 3.9 million employees work at least half the time from home, which amounts to nearly 3% of the total US workforce. Employers are seeing the savings, with telecommuting saving employers over $44 billion in 2015. While only somewhere around 7% of employers offer a work-from-home option, that figure has grown 40% in the last five years, and will only continue to. In 2015, over 24% of employed people worked at home in some capacity, while 68% of young job seekers entering the workforce said that the ability to work from home was important in determining what companies interested them, and employers are paying attention. Just as the casual office environment influenced by startup culture swept through offices in the late 00s, working remotely seems to be the next wave for American workers. It’s truly a win-win scenario: both employers and employees save, gain added flexibility, and a new-found balance that yields even greater overall output.
Interested in working remotely? Check out AVRA’s open roles.
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