From living rooms and those massive open coworking spaces, to the ersatz offices in Starbucks – the number of people vouching for remote work is quietly increasing. This wouldn’t just simply change the way we work, but potentially challenge our views on how we go about it and redefine what we call ‘work’.
If you’re someone who has already made the choice to work from home, it’s easier to understand that, apart from a few downsides, you have an improved quality of life. While remote work has blurred some of the boundaries between work time and leisure time, people who have been doing it this way say they’re happier and often more productive than they were at traditional workplaces.
Depending on how you measure it, remote employees form anywhere from 5.3 percent to nearly two-thirds of the US workforce – a number that has been rising since the advent of a reliable and robust digital infrastructure earlier this decade. In the most recent American Time Use Survey by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 57% of workers in 2018 had a flexible schedule. Additionally, 42 million wage and salary workers (29%) could work from home, and 36 million workers (25%) worked at home sometimes.
Numbers aside, here’s the good, the bad and the lovely of working from anywhere
If it was advancements in technology that first enabled remote work, now it’s remote working demands that are driving technology forward. New workplace communication software coming out every other quarter promises to be the next, better and more productive version of Slack. There’s Discord – it’s free and the most popular team communication app, primarily developed for gamers. It provides users with a familiar Slack-like UI, Skype-like video and voice chats. Video hardware makers come up with better cameras and viewing experiences every year – all in the hope of making video communication more natural. Zoom, a video conferencing software company went public in 2019. Other notable mentions include Flock, Fleep and Trello – all free-to-use collaborative tools intended to replace emails at work.
It’s important to note that all this tech has been around for a while, and some of us already use it in-office. In reality, whether you’re nine feet, nine floors, or nine miles away, chances are you’re already communicating with your colleagues remotely. The tools that make sure everyone communicates and succeeds in an office space are the same tools you need to work remotely.
You may not have noticed the changes introduced by remote work as they transpired so gradually. Its growing popularity is remodelling how we work, the tools we use, how we communicate, and even the hours we work.
Extrapolate that fact, and you also observe a change in the type of work people do as companies seek to cut costs and be more agile. Long gone are the times when work meant sticking to a particular silo. If you work in digital marketing, you’d better have IT involved so you can increase sales. Once you do the marketing and the sales right, you’ve got to involve supply-chain, too.
Working remotely comes with its share of problems. It can be difficult to create and maintain the culture of a company without people being in the same space. For some, it’s difficult to work in the same space where they live and relax regularly. Other common downsides to remote work include the inability to unplug, loneliness and difficulty collaborating.
You may not realize this, but a lot of casual collaboration takes place in a typical workplace. It could be better practices that you pick up from a colleague or the occasional brainstorming session during a break. Trying to replicate this at home is tricky and may lead to you feeling out of the loop.
The flexibility offered by working from home can turn into a nightmare if your colleagues don’t give you as much leeway as they might if you were in the office. They might wonder if you’ve started taking it easy rather than pulling your weight. This can make any individual working remotely feel that onus is on them to over-communicate.
This could potentially create an always-on culture. It can be hard to stop working when your colleagues are always connected digitally. You could, surprisingly enough, end up working longer hours than you would have in a conventional office environment.
In a nutshell, the good news is that the 9-to-5 barrier has collapsed, and the bad news is – that the 9-to-5 barrier has collapsed.
By definition, an entrepreneur likes solving problems and sets up their business in the hope of profit. If you are one, allowing your employees to work from home is the ideal solution that solves several problems and saves you a lot of that prized capital. You get to save that whopping amount that would have to be spent on equipping your employees with a workplace that has a decent infrastructure and a stocked pantry. While your team solves problems for your customers, you will be enabling them to do a better job by getting rid of significant obstacles. When you let them work remotely, they feel like they have a lot more control over things like workplace attire, a personalized workspace and the feel of a more focused, flexible schedule. You will also be single-handedly responsible for more enjoyable, engaging and effective meetings.
However, it’s time to learn from those who have the sweetest deal in the country – home business owners who work from home full-time. They skip all the posturing, the toxic environment created when you ‘pick sides’ and the usual that occurs in a traditional work setting. Additionally, the biggest perk of working for yourself is the tax advantage not given to employed personnel. You get to write off equipment, services, supplies, and maybe even your car or home, if appropriate. Furthermore, when you have a home business, you get to deduct your expenses first and pay taxes on your net income.
The average American household spends about $386/month on gas. Multiply that by 12 – and you’ll be saving $4,632 or at least half that amount if you work from home. After all, money saved is money earned.
It’s easier for you to picture all of this if you’re an artist who owns an iPad Pro and commutes to work every day.
Imagine the routine of a brain on autopilot taking the bus/subway to work, checking emails, or simply sketching random designs. Such a time suck, when you know you could have spent this time being a lot more productive at home. You could be using this time to learn how types of colors and shades go together and perfect your art – so you can eventually be independent and have a shot at making money by doing something YOU like to do. Yet, you choose to commute all the way to work for someone else when you could easily be working for yourself.
The fastest-growing commute is not having to commute at all.
Turns out that when given the choice, we prefer to opt-out of commuting to work altogether.
Remote work is a product of the demand for a better work-life balance, and it seems like the future could tip in favor of the life side of that equation. It took a pandemic for us to live in this remote work fantasy of Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson, founders of Basecamp. They led this faction of remote work by being a virtual company for the past 21 years. It has now transformed into this cult we’re all scrapping to be a part of.
It doesn’t necessarily have to be a struggle to start working from home. If you’re still considering the upfront cost and the time involved to set up a home office that works for you, renting home office furniture is now easier than ever. CasaOne’s rental solution also allows you to customize your rental tenure and personalize your rental experience with easy swaps and upgrades. A white-glove service ensures that you’re up and working in no time.