Working remotely: pros and cons
Working remotely is the dream for a lot of people. I mean, it sounds awesome, right?
You can wake up whenever you want, wear whatever you want, and do your work from your couch or your bed– whatever is the most comfortable.
But as someone who has worked remotely 100% for the past two years, I know that that transition can be pretty bumpy. And honestly, working remotely is not for everyone.
So if you’re curious about what working remotely is like, and if you are wondering if it’s the lifestyle for you, read on!
What we’ll talk about in this article:
- Pros and cons of working remotely
- Is working remotely for you?
Pros of working remotely
There are some definite upsides to being able to work from anywhere.
The commute rocks
For one thing, you don’t have to commute to the office everyday. This is a really huge benefit, maybe one of the biggest ones.
I live in a relatively large city, and the driving commute in my area is killer. Not having to drive 45 minutes to an hour each way is unbelievably awesome!
I’m saving money on gas, on parking,and not wearing my car out as much. And I don’t have to sit in the mess of cars during rush hour, trying to avoid hitting or getting hit by someone else. My mental health is definitely the better for this.
You have more control of your schedule
For me, this one is also huge. I absolutely love being in control of my schedule. This will depend heavily on the type of work you do.
When I worked for a company while working remotely, I did have to be available online during business hours. But I felt much more free to run errands if I needed to.
The down side of this (which we’ll get into a little more later) was that this can snowball into not fully working during the day, and then not being able to fully rest after “work hours” are over.
You won’t get constantly interrupted
Again, this will depend on your job. But especially as a programmer, having interruptions during the day really cuts down on your focus and productivity.
I hate the feeling of finally getting the zone while working on a task, only to have someone stop in front of my desk and start asking me something. Because when they leave, it takes a while to get back into that zone again!
On the other hand, if you’re not in the actual office building, it’s basically impossible for people to just stop by your desk for random questions. So this can definitely help you to have that isolation that you need to really focus.
Cons of working remotely
Now that we’ve gone over all the amazing parts about working remotely, here are the downsides:
It can be very difficult to stay focused
This is, in my experience, the most difficult part of working from home.
Yes, you won’t have those annoying interruptions that you had in your office building. And you’ll have a lot more autonomy, which is good, right?
The downside of this is that YOU are completely in charge of your schedule and how your day goes.
When you work from an office, surrounded by coworkers, there’s a subconscious accountability going on. Your coworkers will know pretty quickly if you’re working or not working. And this can be a positive thing, because you’re less likely to get distracted and go on Reddit all day.
But at home (or the coffee shop), there’s literally no one holding you accountable for the minutes in your day. If you sit on the couch and binge Netflix, no one will notice, at least not unless you start missing deadlines.
When you work remotely, you will have to be self-motivated. You’ll have to get yourself out of bed at a reasonable hour, and you will have to make sure that you stay on top of your work without being distracted all day.
Work life and home life
My first year of working remotely, I fell into this horrible pattern where I would feel extremely unfocused and distracted during the day. I wouldn’t be productive all day, and then 5 o’clock would roll around and I would get so mad at myself for not doing much work.
And I would work at night, go to bed late, and then not be able to wake up early the next morning. Then when I didn’t do enough work during the week, I would have to play catch up on the weekends.
It was pretty bad because I felt like I wasn’t working OR resting well at all.
Over time, I’ve gotten better at keeping my work to work hours and then being able to disconnect from work in the evenings and on the weekends. It’s still a challenge, but I’ve gotten better at it nowadays.
You might miss the human interaction
If you’re an extroverted person who thrives on connecting with people in person, working from home by yourself may be very challenging. Even if you’re an introvert (like me!) if you don’t leave the house all week, you will start feeling lonely and disconnected and develop cabin fever.
I had terrific, fun coworkers in my office, and I really missed the impromptu chats, the birthday parties, and other events. Slack or Google Hangouts just isn’t the same.
Tips on working remotely
Now that you know some of the pros and cons of working remotely, here are some tips on how to succeed if you’re working from home!
1. Have an area dedicated to work
If you can keep your work and home lives separate, you’ll be way more likely to do well working remotely. One aspect of this is carving out separate physical spaces for home and work.
Try to have a dedicated space for work in your home. It could be a room that you use as your office, or even just a small desk or table somewhere in your house or apartment.
It may seem strange, but somehow having that physical space designated as the “work” space helps our brains to get more into work mode. And when you’re done for the day, you can turn off your computer and turn out the lights in the office, which will help you get into rest mode.
2. Have times dedicated to work
Along with physically separating your work and home areas, make sure that you separate their times as well.
I try to keep real business hours, from 9 until 5 or 6. And as I said earlier, if I goof off during the day, and then end up working at night or on the weekends, I know I’ll just end up feeling unproductive and not rested. So I try to keep my times separated as well.
3. Keep a consistent schedule
In the same line of thought, try to keep a consistent schedule. Even if you can sleep in in the mornings, force yourself to get up at a reasonable hour.
It’ll be tough at the beginning, but the more you do it, the easier it will get. One of my favorite books, The Power of Habit, talks about how creating a habit is like blazing a trail. When you just start out, it’s not super clear and easy to follow.
But as you keep performing that habit, the trail will get more and more worn, and it will actually get easier and easier to repeat it! Keeping a consistent schedule, with work, play, exercise, and rest, will embed in your brain and you’ll be much happier.
4. Stay active!
As we all know, sitting at a desk all day is really bad for you. Working from home can be even worse, because you’re working at a desk all day, then after work you’re just sitting on the couch all night! (Or maybe this is just me)
So when you’re working remotely, it’s really important to stay active and to exercise regularly. This is something I’m still having a lot of trouble staying on top of, because honestly it’s hard to fight intertia.
But on those days that I exercise or even meditate in the mornings before work, I’m always a lot more focused and happy.
And even during the day when you are working, try to get up from your desk every hour or so. You can even squeeze in a few squats or lunges because, hey, who’s going to see you? 🙂
5. Be more proactive with social plans
Lastly, make sure that you keep your social life up. I’m naturally pretty introverted, so I can get really comfortable just staying in the house. But at some point even I will feel like I need to get out of the house and see people and just hang out.
It’s funny because there are days where I won’t say a word to anyone, except my husband when he’s home. Then when I see people later on in the week, I’ll just have words fall out of my mouth as I get all my social energy out!
Maybe you won’t struggle with this at all, depending on how social you are already. But it’s good to keep this in mind!
I hope you’ve enjoyed these tips for working remotely. If you have any questions or thoughts, feel free to leave a comment below!