The pandemic accelerated a transition to remote work for many office employees across the country. They were forced to change their routines, their homes and the boundaries between work and life. Now, more than two years after those first days at home, most employees have learned to overcome the challenges and thrive while working in remote environments.
Benefits of Remote Work
- Skipping the dreaded commute. Cutting a commute out of one’s day provides multiple benefits. The time spent commuting can now be used for other valuable activities. The stress caused by rush hour traffic is avoided and employees can start and end their work days more relaxed. Consuming less gasoline and reducing wear and tear on vehicles is healthier for the planet and household budgets.
- Flexibility, in hours and location. Many people feel that being present for more events and life moments is important. The ability to work from anywhere makes it easier to see family during the busiest times of year and be there for birthdays and holidays. Sitting down for a family dinner during busy season can be energizing. The opportunity to be more available with loved ones is irreplaceable.
- Better work-life balance has become a tagline, but it certainly is a perk of the remote world. It’s easier to get household chores done while working from home. Whether it’s throwing in a load of laundry during the day or being available for a service call, the chance to integrate some household chores into the weekdays can give time back on the weekend for family, friends, hobbies or relaxation, which can make for a more effective worker.
- Family members aren’t always easy to work around. Family members, even if they are also working, don’t always respect work boundaries. From striking up conversations during a big project, to having meetings and calls at the same time in a small living space, communication and boundary setting are a must with remote work.
- Tip #1: Coordinate schedules, when possible, to avoid overlapping meetings and calls. This eases the slow internet and excess background noise caused by multiple video meetings at once.
- Tip #2: Develop efficient communication methods. Not all meetings can be scheduled around your partner’s or roommate’s schedule, and calls often come at unexpected times, which can lead to distracting background noise for one or both people. Finding an effective way to kindly communicate to the other if they are being too loud, whether they’re on a call or not, can save aggravation in these situations. Text messaging, note writing and hand signals can be quick and effective communication methods.
- Blurring the lines between work and home life can exacerbate burn out. The little interruptions throughout the day can build up and make the workday feel longer than it was before working remotely. There isn’t always a clear line between starting and ending work without a commute. It’s tempting to check the email that just pinged, even though it’s after hours and it’s likely not urgent. Over months, this can build up and lead to feeling burned out. For remote employees, keeping clearer lines between their work and their personal time helps balance life and fight off burn out.
- Tip 1: Turn the laptop off at the end of the day and put it away if needed. Time away from work and laptops is as important for remote employees as it was when employees were leaving everything at the office.
- Tip 2: Dedicate space for work and space for relaxation. Working in the same space we relax in can hinder our motivation during work hours and similarly limit our ability to fully relax on our personal time.
Remote work, like in office work, has advantages and disadvantages. Overcoming the challenges posed is the key to being successful in remote work. For many, the benefits will outweigh the challenges, and working remotely will become, at least partially, a part of their career moving forward.