Advantages and disadvantages of remote jobs
Statistics have shown over and over again that the workforce is changing. In 2017, it was estimated that a whopping 36% of Americans were working remotely as freelancers. In 2018, the numbers rose to 50 %. The figures are still set to rise, at least according to a study conducted by Buffer. 99% of close to 2,500 people interviewed during the study said they would like to work remotely some of the time for the rest of their careers. This is a strong indicator that people are opening up to the idea of remote working and it’s only a matter of time before everyone embraces this arrangement.
However, like any other working arrangement, this setup has its challenges. If you’re considering taking the remote route, you just need to weigh the benefits against the demerits and make a decision. Here’s what you need to know;
Advantages of remote jobs
Flexible work schedules
Flexibility has to be the most obvious benefit offered by remote working. According to the International Workplace Group (IWG), 69% of millennials are willing to give up other traditional work benefits for flexibility. A flexible working schedule means you get to decide when to work as well as your base of operation. For instance, a mom who has to watch the baby at night can work when the baby sleeps and watch the baby when he/she wakes up. A college student may also attend classes during the day and work remotely at night. Simply put, remote working allows people to hit to birds with one stone. There’s also the benefit of working while traveling or working from coffee shops, coworking spaces and home. As captured in Buffer’s study results, 93% of remote workers have traveled and worked at the same time thus, epitomizing the flexible nature of remote working.
If we’re to be honest, no one likes being micro-managed. The traditional office setup makes it difficult to run errands in between working hours. To see the doctor, you have to inform your bosses and book appointments early in advance. Emergencies are not at all welcome. It’s not shocking that 79% of workers quit jobs because of their bosses (Global Studies). It could be micro-management, bullying, lack of appreciation but all the same, you’re likely to encounter a bad boss while working from a traditional office setup. However, when you’re working remotely, you have the freedom to work and run errands as you please with no one to shout at you or threaten you with retrenchment.
Control over income and growth
One of the biggest challenges you’ll face in your career is the uncertainty over when you’ll get a pay rise or when you’ll be considered for a promotion. It gets harder when you’re working for an unstable organization. It is frustrating when your career stagnates while your needs and dreams continue to expand. Working remotely gives you the ability to control your income. You will make as much as you can because you have the flexibility and freedom to take up extra jobs, work extra hours or even hire people to help you. With such freedom, you can control your growth rather than wait for someone else to consider you for a promotion or fire you altogether.
There’s room to work with more entities/people
The definition of job security and stability is changing drastically. Traditionally, it was normal for people to work in one organization as full-time employees for decades or until retirement. Then contractors came into the scene right before the gig economy took over. In an article published by Forbes, the author vividly describes the current state of affairs. Retrenchment seems less than a mile away. At times, entire departments are ‘erased’ from organizations leaving workers out in the cold.
As long as you’re living and working in such uncertain times, you have to work smart. You need more than one option and that means taking up extra gigs or jobs besides your main job. Remote working makes that possible. You can work as a consultant or as a service provider during your free time to ensure your cash flow is not disrupted if and when your employer decides to sever your ties.
This benefit stretches to employers as well. If you’re working with a remote team, you can hire as many staff members as you wish, given that you don’t have to cater to their office equipment needs. Such an arrangement gives you a bigger pool of employees, meaning you’ll get more work done, by more people within a shorter time frame.
Remote jobs are fueled by globalization to an extent. There is an increased need for goods and services to exchange hands across borders. Shortage of labor in European countries and high levels of unemployment in parts of Africa and South America, for instance, have led to an increased demand for workers to consider employment in foreign countries. According to a report by Bruegel, the labor crisis in Europe began in 2012 with the service, industrial and construction industries being the worst hit. This trend has continued to peak and even though migration has helped, the problem persists. All unemployed individuals may not be able to fly across seas and oceans in search of greener pastures but they can work remotely and deliver their work through internet-powered channels.
Remote jobs enable both employers and workers to cast a wider net. Surprisingly, working with a team from miles away can be more rewarding (financially and socially) compared to working with a local, physical team.
Picture this; you land a lucrative job at a fortune 500-company. You’re required to work from 9 to 5 but you’re eyeing a promotion, so you extend your working hours. You also have to work on weekends and taking leaves to attend your kids’ soccer games is a bit risky at the moment, as you’re trying to climb the career ladder. Sundays are meant to be family days, but then again, you’re always too tired, so you sleep in. You’d like to go to the gym, but, err…maybe later.
This is a brief description of what a stable, conventional job offers. Remote jobs, on the other hand, give you the flexibility to work from anywhere, even while on vacation. You don’t have to stop working if you want to attend to family or personal matters.
In 2017, Nicholas Bloom, a Stanford University professor gave a TED talk about working from home. This was after concluding an experiment with a Chinese travel company, Ctrip which has over 16,000 employees. The study revealed that Ctrip could immensely trim the cost of office space and equipment by allowing workers to work from home, but there is more. Bloom also revealed that remote workers were astonishingly more productive. Besides, the hours lost through everyday commute, office gossip and employees showing up late are equivalent to money lost by a company.
Did you know that in 2012, a traffic Jam near Beijing kept vehicles on the road for over a week? It’s quite probable that some people in that scenario were headed to work. Everyday traffic jams may not take that long to clear but we can all attest to the fact that traffic congestion is a global problem worsening over time. It’s simply a time-waster which eats up working hours. If only more people would consider working remotely from home, rather than heading to the same direction at the same time, then we would save more time.
19% of the people interviewed during Buffer’s study admitted to feeling lonely due to working remotely. 8% of the respondents had trouble staying motivated. Remote workers face these challenges as a result of isolation. Even though remote jobs offer a lot of flexibility and work-life balance, socializing is limited. Being part of a community (coworkers at the office) can be a major source of motivation.
Watching a funny YouTube video or scrolling through your Facebook feed at work may be unheard off, especially if your supervisor is strict. However, when you’re paying for the internet and there’s no one else in the house, you can easily take unnecessary breaks to do these kinds of things. Unfortunately, these are just but a few of the distractions you’ll encounter as a remote worker. There’s the TV, the neighbor playing loud music, kids playing outside and the nagging urge to take a walk or get a snack from the fridge. In a nutshell, it takes a lot of discipline to maintain your focus.
Inability to unplug
There is no strict system such as 9 to 5 when you’re working remotely. You can start and end your working sessions at any time. Knowing when to stop can be problematic when you lack self-discipline. Again, Buffer’s study revealed that unplugging is the biggest challenge when it comes to remote working. 22% of the respondents admitted to having this problem. Often work spills over to sleep time and it can easily affect your health and family life. Most remote workers tend to take their computers to bed and continue working when they’re supposed to be sleeping. Simply put, it’s the price you have to pay for freedom.
Working alone in the house doesn’t allow much networking if any. While this may not be a necessity in some careers, meeting new people can push your career to the next level. Also, companies that allow employees to work in the same space create an environment suitable for brainstorming and sharing ideas which can be beneficial to the business.
Whether to work remotely or not is a personal choice. It’s however important to consider several factors; first, what is your situation. Do you need flexibility and freedom more than you need to network? It all narrows down to your needs and where you are in your career. Lastly, it’s also important to consider the possibility of combining remote working with conventional jobs. Employers today are mixing up the two and employees are willing to take up opportunities with such arrangements. A good place to start, if you’re interested in remote working, would be Remoteera.io