Remote Working in Today’s Digital Age
As we become more technologically savvy and integrated the need to work a 9 to 5 office job is disappearing.
Most work in today’s society is done on a computer. And the entire idea of being in a place to do work during a set period of time is disintegrating.
It is disintegrating because work, for a lot of people, doesn’t stop when you leave the office. You need to be replying to emails, you might have informal meetings, or simply need to finish your project for the presentation tomorrow morning. One job I had involved me researching bars and restaurants around London, so that even on dates I was ‘working’.
The 9 to 5 grind also has a number of disadvantages. For many people, especially around big cities, London being a prime example, the commute is long and extortionately expensive. People have to get up before 7, and they won’t get home again until after 7. During that 12 hour period they’ve spent £30 on trains and been pressed up against someone’s armpit for nearly three hours of their day.
So, it’s not surprising that millennials find the idea of working remotely appealing.
The Pluses of Working Remotely
#1 No one is going to be looking over your shoulder.
What this means for the worker is that results will speak for themselves, and you can work at your own pace.
I know people who often spend hours in their office unnecessarily, lost in a stream of pointless social media. If you were working from home, you could get your work done and instead of wasting the remaining time, go out and do something with your day. You’ve got your phone with you to reply to any important emails.
#2 You can work from anywhere!
As long as you’ve got a laptop and a decent WiFi signal you can work from absolutely anywhere. This opens up the possibilities of travelling and working.
This is something I’ve done personally, as write this I’m sat in a café in Los Angeles.
With travel being such a prevalent part of the millennial generation, enabling someone to earn money working on a job they like, whilst seeing and experiencing all the multitudinous variety of the world is always going to be very popular.
#3 There is more time
If you know that once you’ve completed your tasks for the day, you can leave your laptop and go have fun, you’re going to work more efficiently. 91% of remote workers believe they "get more done when working remotely". So, you will often work shorter days. Also, there is no commute, so you literally have several more hours of your day to do things with.
You don’t have to work Monday to Friday. Again, once your work is done, and you’ve completed everything, there is no reason you need to sit in front of your computer. I often find that by Friday I’ve run out of things I need to do, meaning I can work on personal projects or simply go and do things. Or I might pick up the slack on other days, meaning I work one day till 7 or 8 in the evening so that the next day I only have to work in the morning.
The Limitations of Remote Working
It’s not all rainbows and smiles. Remote working comes with its own drawbacks.
#1 A lacking social aspect
The office camaraderie, the drinks after work… Whilst you have more time, you likely won’t have many people to spend it with. The workplace is a somewhere to meet people and socialise, if you never go into an office there’s no one to talk to.
#2 Working your own hours can backfire
What if you’re sick? There is no calling in for a sick day if you work from home. So you struggle into an upright position, down a few aspirin and stare blankly at the shimmering laptop screen until your eyes start watering.
It is not about hours put in, it’s about work completed. If for whatever reason a task takes you much longer than anticipated, you will have to work more hours, longer days, and when that happens the 9 to 5 begins to look tantalisingly sweet.
#3 Out of sight, out of mind.
Talking with your boss, getting feedback on your projects, or even getting details on the next bit of work can become a tedious process.
Not being in the office means you can’t just stand up, walk over to your boss and ask a question. You have to send an email or perhaps call them, which they might not even pick up.
If you have decided to work and travel, the time difference can become a substantial problem. For me whilst based in California, the people back in England often avoid responding to emails after 5pm GMT, which is 9am West Coast time.
All this can hinder the efficiency of working day. It requires good planning in advance to manage remote workers
#4 You can’t keep an eye on your staff.
As a boss you might not want to have to, however, not everyone is a self-motivated autonomous worker. Some people need someone to be looking over their shoulder to give them the drive to get things done.
Hopefully you trust your staff, but if you can’t see what they’re doing you might begin to wonder if they’re putting any effort in at all.
#5 There are some things you just need to be there for
Little things like collecting the post, or doing manual tasks about the office, or bigger things like putting together and delivering a presentation require you to be in an office environment. There is no real way around this.
Remote working is appealing because of the freedom that it gives the worker. However, it has drawbacks which without proper management can lead to a slowdown of the work being done.
From personal experience these slowdowns can be frustrating for both parties. It requires good relationships with the worker, the office staff they are working with and the person they are answering to.
I happily advocate that remote working is an effective, efficient and generally much more pleasant way to balance a healthy work life. It works well for both the company and the worker. However, it is most effective when punctuated with regular meetings to maintain relationships and talk through any problems that arise.