Before making the decision to start my own digital marketing business and make working remotely my new way of life, I spent a decade working in 'Corporate Canada', in various industries: Oil & Gas, Safety, and Transportation. At those companies my roles varied from front desk to ISO 9001 Manager. With every role (aside from the front desk role), there were large components that were easily manageable from home, but at the time, and this was only 6-7 years ago, it was generally unheard of for companies to allow their employees to work from home unless they had a really good reason. Even when I was 8 months pregnant with my daughter (and it was a rough pregnancy), I still made the trek to the office every day all the while thinking 'I could do this from home easily. They don't even need me there. I get there, settle in to my office and almost never see anyone. Why can't this be done from home?''
Now we are on the cusp of a new trend in the corporate world and that is the ability to work fully remotely or work a hybrid of remote and in office. You might be thinking the same thing I was 'HECK YES! ABOUT TIME!', but let me tell you something, as with everything else in life there are benefits and drawbacks. So, let's take a look at three of the biggest benefits and drawbacks there are to working remotely.
1. Increased work/life balance Benefit: If you're not a Mom/parent, then you have likely heard a Mom/parent say that they wish they could find a way to be able to work and contribute financially to their family as well as be that full time, cookie baking, field trip monitoring, playdate
hosting Super-Mom. In theory, working remotely gives you that ability. If your employer is willing to give you a flexible schedule to accommodate your child(s) schedule then it can work. Being able to hit pause on work to drop off or pick up your kids from school, be a part of that afterschool club, schedule and attend appointments without missing work is a huge benefit. Let's not forget the people that enjoy travelling. The ability to take your work with you and work from Italy, Bora Bora, the moon (ok, that last one is a stretch) is very alluring. Drawback: While the flexibility is nice, it can end up being overwhelming. It can start to bring in that nasty feeling that you need to work as if you don't have kids(or a life) and raise your kids(or live) as if you don't work. You might find yourself stretched too thin and working late into the evening to make up for 'lost' work hours during the day and forgetting that you need downtime as well.
2. Less office related distractions Benefit: Studies have shown that productivity is higher in employees that work from home than their office working counterparts. The biggest reason is there are generally less distractions at home than there are in the office. For example: you don't have to listen to Margie from accounting tell you all about her cat Mr. Fluffy for the millionth time or Bob from sales tell you about his upcoming trip to the Bahamas. You won't have to worry about the constant interruptions that there can be in an office from other employees coming to chat, ask questions, etc. And if that's not enough of a benefit from working remotely then let's all think about the times we've had to sit in an office where someone has burnt popcorn in the microwave or warmed up less than appetizing smelling food for lunch. Drawback: You will miss the social contact. There is something to be said for office comradery and when you work remotely that is gone or will be very hard to achieve. In this case, we highly suggest that your company make an effort to do some of these remote team building activities to boost morale and create social connections between members of their remote team(s).
This can also increase the suspicion of non-productivity. Managers that have teams that work remotely need to learn how to trust their team members. This is hard for some managers as the term "Micro-Management" is not just a made up one. The trust level between employee and manager/employer needs to be a strong one and this can be hard to facilitate remotely.
3. Decreased overhead costs for employees and employers
Benefit: Employees will save money on commuting costs (gas, vehicle expenses, bus/subway fares etc.) and employers will save money when they can downsize or even eliminate their need for a physical office location (no more expensive power and heating bills). Some companies are making use of a trend called "Hoteling" where larger offices downsize, but keep some office spaces and boardrooms available for employees to book when they need the spaces for meetings or work that has to be done in the office using office equipment.
Drawback: I can't think of any for this one. Especially with the rising costs of every day life for everyone in the world, cost savings in any aspect is a need more than a want these days.
All in all, it is my opinion that the benefits to working remotely outweigh the drawbacks. Taking in to consideration the advancements in technology that make remote work that much easier to organize for employees and employers and the introduction of the up and coming 'Metaverse', we will continue to see a rise in the remote work force going forward. There is a high demand for a better work/life balance from millennials coming to the work force thus, full-time and/or hybrid remote working is no longer just a trend, but a reality in the future of corporate office employees