What is Remote Work - BTOES Insights

Summary

Remote Work Advantages and Disadvantages

Now that you know what remote work is, let’s talk about why you might like it (and why you might not).

Remote Work Advantages and Disadvantages

Now that you know what remote work is, let’s talk about why you might like it (and why you might not).

PRO: YOU’RE MORE LIKELY TO STAY LONG-TERM

One of the biggest advantages of remote work is that you’re able to handle most of what life throws at you—including the moments that might have previously put your job at risk.

Last year, before I joined Skillcrush, a critically ill parent meant that I had to spend weeks aways from my office. Despite an incredibly supportive team and boss, that period of enforced flexibility was a major stressor. It meant I ping-ponged back and forth between cities whenever I felt like I’d been out of touch for too long. And had my company not been so understanding, I would have wound up having to take unpaid leave for all those extra days.

Not so with remote work. A laptop means you can work from home, on the road, and even (but I hope this doesn’t happen) from a hospital. It’s work that takes into account how unexpected life is.

Remote jobs also mean that if you’re considering maternity leave or your partner gets a job in a different city, you don’t have to sacrifice the job you love for the person (or future little person) you love. Warm and squishy, right?

PRO: YOU’LL HAVE MORE TIME FOR DEEP WORK

Anyone else remember when that study came out that proved that work interruptions cost you up to six hours a day?

Those notorious “Hey, quick question…”s add up. Here at Skillcrush, we tend to stack meetings in the morning, meaning that the late afternoon is primed for deep work (I’m writing this massive article in uninterrupted bliss right now, in fact).

Working from home or from a coworking space where you don’t know the people around you means more focus. Another bonus: remote work is built on the belief that you’ll get your work done, not that you need to have your butt in a seat for exactly 40 hours a week. The result is that you’ll focus on quality not quantity, which is good for everyone including the company.

PRO: YOU’LL LEARN SOME SERIOUSLY IMPRESSIVE COMMUNICATION SKILLS

One could argue that it’s much harder to communicate when you work remotely, but I’d actually disagree. Working remotely means that communication is everything. It’s immediately apparent when the way you’re communicating isn’t working, and you’ll be forced to fix issues much more quickly. This is communication on steroids, and it means you’re going to dramatically improve every technique from how you present ideas to how you voice frustrations about a coworker. All good things.

PRO: YOU’LL FEEL HEALTHIER

A 2016 study from the University of Minnesota found that workplace flexibility lowered stress and the risk of burnout. So that’s better mental health. Then there’s the fact that working from home means you’re less likely to encounter this season’s flu.

Another big benefit of remote work on health: Forbes argues that while people commuting to offices reported that they were less likely to exercise and eat well, remote workers don’t have those barriers. Spoken from personal experience: it’s almost a treat to go to the gym at 5pm when you’ve been at home all day. Almost.

PRO: IT’S ONE (HUGE) STEP TOWARD ENDING THE GENDER WAGE AND LEADERSHIP GAPS

Part of the reason Skillcrush’s CEO, Adda Birnir, decided to build a remote company from the start was that it allowed women to have the flexible schedules they needed for personal priorities and successful careers.

Many studies have found that the gender wage gap is actually a motherhood gap. That gap also affects how many women become leaders within their companies. Time off, especially in a nation that lacks strong parental leave standards, inevitably leads to falling behind.

From the lens of intersectional feminism, there’s another clear-cut advantage: remote work means that you don’t have to live in an expensive city to work for a big name company or find a role that’s ideal for you. This means more opportunities for everyone, but particularly those who might previously have been excluded because of their location, background, or scheduling needs.

CON: YOU RUN THE RISK OF FEELING ISOLATED

This disadvantage of remote work kind of goes without saying. If you’re used to working in a busy office environment, switching to a work from home schedule might get to you.

That said, many companies offer coworking space stipends or other programs if you begin to feel the monotony of your home office (and there are always coffee shops!). And a remote company done right involves a lot of video conferences and messages throughout the day—so you may find it’s not as isolating as you’d expect.

CON: YOU’RE RESPONSIBLE FOR STAYING ON TRACK

Look, we won’t mince words: remote work requires a self-starter attitude. No one is checking to see if you’re working or how hard, you’re just required to get your work done on time. If you have trouble self-motivating, remote work might not be the best job for you. Then again, it might teach you how to take ownership of your work, which ultimately, is a great thing.

CON: YOU WON’T ALWAYS HAVE IMMEDIATE ACCESS TO YOUR TEAM

Not to keep picking on Lizu, our graphic designer, but she signs off for the day (or her night) around 9:30am my time. That means that if I realize I need something from her that I haven’t assigned, I won’t get it until I start the next morning. Luckily, remote work means putting processes in place where those kind of moments don’t happen—or at least happen rarely. It’s all about doing proper planning (which we do through Scrum) to make sure everyone knows what’s coming.

How to work remotely

Sold on this lifestyle? It is pretty appealing. The idea of waking up and living your life in a way that is most suited to your personal and professional goals, along with your habits and idiosyncrasies sounds almost too good to be true. PSA: this way of living is possible for you, no matter where you’re at in life right now.

Here are a few things that you can do to start living the remote work lifestyle:‍

If you’re a full-time employee at a company with a corporate office:

You have the opportunity to become a remote employee!‍

What is a remote employee?

A remote employee is someone who is employed by a company, but works outside of a traditional office environment. This could mean working from a local coworking space, from home, at a coffee shop, or in a city across the world.

This is a multi-step process and not something that should be jumped into without a bit of thought. You’ll need to consider your current professional role, your working style, and be prepared to have in-depth conversations with your manager about how remote working could work for you and your team. You’ll need to build up a well-researched business case that is specific to your role in your organization and use the powers of persuasion to get your boss on board. Don’t worry, you don’t have to do it alone. We’ll show you how to segue into remote work, whether you want to do it once a week, or for an entire year.‍

If you’re a freelancer

You’re probably in the best position to work remotely - congratulations! Think about your clientele and whether it is necessary to be available for in-person meetings. If you think that more than 80% of your work can be done virtually, then think about a trial remote work period. Start with one week and build up to longer stretches of time that feel comfortable to you and your clientele.‍

If you’re an entrepreneur

As a motivated innovator and self-starter, remote work could be a great option for you. Before you jump headfirst into a remote working lifestyle, think about whether your business requires a brick-and-mortar location. For example, a salon owner would have a difficult time working remotely, while an online fitness instructor would have a simpler transition. Once you’ve weighed the pros and cons, take the leap - and consider taking your team along with you for the ride!

Remote work is still a relatively new concept in the professional world. With technology advancing at a faster rate than ever before, old concerns like communication and productivity tracking have been eradicated and more companies are looking into offering remote work as an option for their employees. If you’re interested in living a more flexible lifestyle, or want to pursue a new way of thinking about personal and professional growth, look into how remote work could work for you.

What is Remote Work - BTOES Insights
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