In March 2020, all non-essential businesses were told to close their physical doors and open up digital ones. This meant sending employees to work from home. As the 14-day shelter-in-place order approached week three...then four...then ten....it became clear no one knew how long the work from home mandate was going to last.
In the state of Illinois, non-essential businesses are encouraged to allow their workforce to work remotely, but as of June 2020, it was no longer mandated. At this time, some employers chose to give their employees the option to return to the office, reminding them to recognize what is best for them personally and professionally.
Much like how college has different learning formats (online, in-class, and hybrid) with pros and cons to each, the same can be said of the modern-day work formats.
Let’s examine if remote work is truly the best option for you:
Work anywhere, anytime.
When you work remotely, it doesn’t matter your geographic location. If you’re someone with a strong sense of wanderlust, a remote job might be best for you, as you’re not tied down. By extension, most remote jobs will allow you to build a schedule outside of the traditional 9-5, but employees still need to be mindful of things like time zones and job duties to ensure there is coverage.
That doctor’s appointment that you have been pushing off suddenly becomes easier to schedule when you are working from home. Taking an extended lunch is no longer an issue because you can simply make up that time at the end of your day or clock in a little earlier the next. Attending your kids’ functions may be easier if you can work a non-traditional schedule for the day, too. Again, it is important to take steps to ensure your work productivity doesn't take a hit because you’re making your own schedule.
Daily commute becomes a thing of the past when you’re remote. Not only does commute time eat into the “life” part of “work-life balance”, but the time people spend on a train or in their cars can affect their mental states as well; by decreasing your commute time, you increase productivity. According to a survey conducted by Mercer, 94% of surveyed employees felt just as productive, if not more productive when shifting to remote work.
Save Some Money
Remote work can come with some cost-saving advantages, too! Commuting to your home office from the bedroom saves money on gas and wear and tear on your car. You’ll also save money on things like lunches and work clothes as well.
Remote employees enjoy a dress code that is a little laxer –at least from the waist down –which means you might find yourself saving some space in your closet along the way.
Less Sick Days
We’ve all become hyper-aware of how quickly germs can spread, and that goes double for in-office teams. Not only does working from home keep you safe from the current bug going around the office, but if you do catch something and you can still function, working from home allows you to save on a sick day without putting the health of your coworkers at risk.
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Let’s face it, working from home can be lonely. If you are a social butterfly and need to interact with people to keep your energy up, working from home might not be the right fit for you.
In an office, typically there are systems in place to keep everyone online when the internet or the power goes down. When you are working at home, you are completely dependent on your plan A. If there is an outage in the area, where do you go? Make sure you have a back-up plan, like going to a friend or family member's house. But getting back online when you have to move remote offices might be more hassle than it’s worth, and you may lose the day of work regardless.
It is easy to become distracted by little things around the house. It takes a lot of self-control and motivation to get up every day at the same time and start working. When you work on Isolation Island, it is easy to lose motivation. It’s also easy to cut corners here and there since you’re not under the “social microscope” the same way you are if you work in a bullpen. When you work from home, in many ways, you become your own manager, and it takes a lot of discipline to not play favorites.
Determining where your personal-life ends and work-life starts can be a challenge for remote employees because both occur under the same roof. When your workday is over, it’s important to have a space free of work where you can unplug and decompress. Maintaining the work-free zones in your house can be difficult, so if you are someone who has a hard time making decisions or isn’t the best with boundaries, an in-office setup with a commute home–where the borders between work and play are defined for you– may be the way to go.
Making the Best Decision for You
As the light at the end of this pandemic tunnel becomes brighter, more and more companies are re-evaluating the value of a physical office--with some deciding to close their physical doors permanently. Right now, however, the popular route seems to be a hybrid model, where employees split their time between an in-office and remote work format.
Whether it’s part of a completely remote setup or hybrid model, working from a home office has its perks. It's certainly not for everyone, though, so it’s important to closely evaluate whether it would be beneficial for you or not. Remember, it’s okay if a remote work lifestyle isn’t for you!
Consider how the past year has impacted things like your mental health, productivity, and overall work-life balance. Perhaps the change of scenery of spending a few days in the office might be just the thing you need to regain a sense of normalcy.