Jumpstart Your Remote Career
Remote work is on the rise and will most likely continue trending in that direction. Particularly with studies continuing to show that remote workers are happier, healthier and more productive.
Or at least they can be.
Whether remote work is a positive or negative experience all depends on how you manage it.
Here is a breakdown of the good, the bad and the ugly of remote work and how to deal with it.
Saves time and money
The average commute time in the US continues to hover at around 30 minutes each way, with commute times on mass transit being around 1 hour. If you add commute time into your workday, that extends an 8.5-hour workday to 9.5 hours if you drive and 10.5 hours if you take public transportation.
In addition, driving to work every day puts additional wear and tear on your car, which also increases your maintenance costs. Remote work eliminates all of that, giving you more personal time and fewer expenses at the same salary.
Better ability to create your own schedule for maximum productivity
The standard 8-hour workday is a holdover from the Industrial Revolution. It has nothing to do with how people work their best and everything to do with how to increase the factory efficiency. Some people do their best work at 4:00 am, while others aren’t functioning on all cylinders until at least noon.
Working remotely often allows you to work when it works best for you.
Better work-life balance
With the number of women in the workforce continuing to rise, this is putting a heavier strain on Millennials in particular to achieve work-life balance. If the average commute is 30 minutes, that also means that attending a mid-day school program would require a minimum of 2-3 hours to attend.
Remote work not only gives employees the ability to schedule time around family events but attending them requires less of an investment.
Greater need for personal discipline
Working in an office rarely prevents people from checking their social media, but it can be a powerful deterrent to spending several hours on it. Your home also has distractions such as TV and piles of dirty laundry.
Working from home with no supervision can make it difficult to stay focused and on-task, requiring a much higher level of personal discipline.
Greater need for boundaries
When you leave the house to go to work in an office, there is a physical separation between work and home. While working in an office may require you to put in more hours, working from home can move in either direction.
It can either consume your life or the demands of your family, friends and loved ones can keep you from getting any work done.
Without the ability to set healthy boundaries, remote workers may find themselves even more stressed out at home.
Can create a sense of isolation
Humans are social beings and as much as working in an office in constant proximity to other humans can sometimes agitate, it can also be comforting.
In an office, there is always someone that understands what you are going through at work and people to process any major changes in the company with.
While it is not impossible for even remote workers to develop strong relationships with coworkers, it can be much more challenging.
You might get on the top of the list for downsizing
Nowhere is the phrase “out of sight, out of mind” more detrimental than when it comes time for downsizing. While remote workers may put in just as long hours as an office worker, no one sees that. While you may have children to feed and loved ones to care for, you don’t have a desk with pictures on it to remind everyone of this. When you are nothing more to employers than a name on a paper, it makes it far easier to make you the first to go. Working from home might require extra work on establishing relationships with colleagues and staying visible.
Can lead to severe burnout
No matter how hard we try, achieving a perfect work-life balance is never going to happen. Sitting at work knowing you are missing a child’s event because you can’t be there is stressful. What can be even more stressful is knowing you could be there, but can’t because you need to get work done.
If you let it, this can create an overwhelming sense of guilt, which can quickly lead to burnout.
WHAT TO DO
Use productivity tools
One of the key ways to overcome the guilt that remote work can create is to learn to focus on what you need to accomplish rather than on how much time you are spending doing it.
It doesn’t matter if you are self-employed or working remotely for others. No one can be productive for 8 straight hours.
By blocking your time into tasks rather than “work hours” you may find you get far more done in less time.
Some great techniques to check out are the Flowtime and Pomodoro.
Schedule your time
Once you find a good productivity technique, you can further its effectiveness by using a calendar app like Google calendar to schedule your time into blocks. One time management technique from the experts is to always schedule a blank spot into your day.
This allows you to manage last-minute emergencies that might arise. If none do, then you have a few minutes of ready-made free time.
There is a wide range of site blockers and other tools that can help you minimize distractions at home. You can also create better boundaries by having a work phone and personal phone and putting your work phone on “do not disturb” in the evening.
Take advantage of chat features and communication tools
While building and maintaining digital relationships may be more challenging than in-person ones, it is important to put in the effort. Not only can this help you avoid burnout, it also makes you more than just a name on a piece of paper when it’s time to downsize.
Working remotely is no more or less stressful or challenging than working in an office, it just requires different skills.
Some people thrive in remote work while others may struggle.
Even those innately inclined to telecommute had to struggle to become effective and productive in a home office. We all have the ability to build these skills and thrive in the place we find ourselves.
It just might take some effort.
This was written by Lisa Michaels. Lisa is a freelance writer, editor and a striving content marketing consultant from Portland. Ever since college, she worked remotely in different positions. Being self-employed, she does her best to stay on top of the current trends in business and tech. Feel free to connect with her on Twitter @LisaBMichaels.