Working Remotely — is it all that it’s cracked up to be?

Written by: Samantha Wolhuter

picture of a MacBook Air next to a teapot

Working remotely is becoming more and more popular. There is a score of articles and videos circulating across the net that have people falling in love with the idea of working from a hammock with a breeze bouncing off the ocean as they sip a fresh coconut on some remote island anywhere in the world. Sounds dreamy, doesn’t it? The reality is that not all of us can pack up everything we have to go live island-style, but that certainly doesn’t mean remote working isn’t for you. In fact, there are several ways to work remotely and there are equally as many reasons why you might want to consider taking up a position that allows you to do just that.

In this article, we wanted to take a look at some of the benefits of working remotely that aren’t mentioned all that often. Aside from the opportunity for a better work/life balance, there are many other great reasons to opt-out of going into the office every day. We also decided to take a look at how remote work affects employers. Is this new style of working a win-win for everyone? We think so, and here’s why.

For employees, freelancers and nearshorers

Whether you’re a full-time employee or someone who works with several clients as a freelancer or even if you’re part of a team that has been contracted out to another organisation here are some of the great reasons remote work, works and could be a real benefit to you.

1. It’s all about Feng Shui

When you work from home (or anywhere else) you can create the office or workspace of your dreams. Say goodbye to cubicles and say hello to setting up a space that helps you get as creative and productive as possible. Whether you like working at a desk or in the garden under a canopy of grapevines, all you need is a good internet connection and a space where you won’t get interrupted frequently. It is important that you have a designated working space that helps you get into the zone and don’t forget to take your health and wellbeing into account. Turn your breakfast counter into your standing desk or invest in an ergonomic chair, because a healthy back makes for a happy person. If you’re looking for a little inspiration check out these cool ideas from Techno Crazed.

2. Save more for your piggy bank

Think of all the money you spend daily: getting to work, buying coffee on the way, buying lunch at your canteen and then the cash you burn getting home. It’s a lot. Nevermind the extra money you spend on purchasing clothes for the office (because heaven forbid Susan sees you wearing that polka-dot t-shirt twice in a week 😉 ). Studies show that on average we spend around €2700.00 per year on coffee and lunches out, and our daily commute can cost us as much as €2300.00 per year and that’s if you take public transport. If you own a car it can get as high as €5000.00 when you include your insurance and maintenance costs. Another way that working from home saves money is through tax write-offs. If you’re using your phone, internet, electricity to run your business or do your job you can include those costs as deductions for tax. Working from home also saves you time which is something that is invaluable.

3. Get better at what you do

When you work alone, and you don’t have an office buddy right next to you to ask a question you are more likely to spend time figuring things out for yourself. Most people learn by doing rather than listening so you’re likely to upskill faster. And, because of all the time you’re saving from commuting, you’ll have the time to actually take that online course you’ve been thinking about since, like, forever. Don’t get us wrong, we’re not advocating going at it alone all the time, we’re just saying that remote work will make you more independent and it encourages you to seek out the answers to things you don’t know yourself.

For the employers

Whether you’re running a start-up and the budget is tight or you’re an established organisation with offices across the globe, employing remote workers may have some interesting benefits that you might not have considered before…

1. Less commuting time = Less absenteeism

Interestingly, there has been significant research carried out on the causal link between commuting time and its effect on absenteeism in the workplace. In 2017 and 2018the IZA Institute of Labour Economics released two studies looking at the topic and found that those with longer commutes recorded between 11 and 20% more sick days than those who had a shorter (or no) commute. The time a person spends getting to and from work each day is substantial, and one study found that employees have stated that an increase of just 20 minutes in their daily commute is worse than taking a pay-cut. So it stands to reason that employees who only have to commute from their bed to their home office are likely to be ‘in attendance’ up to 20% more of the time than their in-office counterparts.

2. Become a 24/7 operation

The beauty of having a remote workforce means your business can be open every hour of every day (without having to pay over-time). Now, this might not interest everyone, but for those of you who need to run a customer service desk, or for those riding tight timelines, knowing that you can ensure continuous around the clock delivery can be very appealing. You can hire developers from Hong Kong, Amsterdam and San Francisco who keep the conveyor belt going all-day long. Welcome to the production line of the 2020s.

3. A bigger pool of talent

Your access to talent is only limited by how far you’re willing to go to hire. If you’re open to employing anyone, anywhere across the globe, you’re sure to have a better pick of the top talent out there. Add to that, you’re suddenly opening your organisation to different cultures and ways of doing things which will likely lead to greater innovation. It’s actually just all very exciting when you start to think of the possibilities.

4. Happier, Healthier Employees

Less commuting time, better work/life balance and more independence results in happier, healthier employees. Companies that have simply included a “work from home” policy into their way of working have seen a marked increase in morale among employees. Studies also suggest that remote workers seem to suffer less with anxiety and depression. Aside from less stress, employees that have more flexibility when it comes to in-office attendance have shown to have more gratitude towards their employers because they feel their needs are being met. This means that when asked, many will be more than willing to go the extra mile for the company, which can come in the form of working late from time to time or needing to travel for work for example.

Hiring or working remotely also has one big added bonus for the world in general.

5. It’s gentler on the environment

Smaller offices mean less energy expenditure. The more people that work from home, the fewer cars there are on the road, reducing our collective carbon footprint. Studies also show that remote work is saving trees: reports aren’t being printed a thousand times — everything is more digital. You’re also less likely to buy throw-away cardboard cups or single-use plastic items. As more people start working from home, less stress will be put on the environment, and given the current climate, it seems like one of the most important reasons to consider working remotely.

We know that sometimes it’s just not possible to have a completely remote team. Some tasks need people to be there in person and of course, there will always be some difficulty balancing your policy for those who can work remotely and those that can’t. So it’s important to really think about how you’d like to approach the idea of remote work. If having a remote team is simply not practical, you may find that having a work from home policy for one day a week already makes for a better working environment.

Alternatively, if the idea of a remote team seems to be an answer to your prayers, we would caution you that you should still have clear guidelines for your way of working. Many articles cite creating your own schedule as a clear benefit for remote work, but that might not suit your business. Especially if you need to ensure that your team sticks to standard in-office hours. Either way, the trend for remote working is not going away and it’s definitely something you should consider going forward. As the momentum grows, you may find that this is a benefit good employees are not willing to go without.

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Last modified: September 17, 2020
Author info
Samantha Wolhuter
Sam is in charge of writing a big portion of WeAreBrain’s creative content. She is a digital nomad always on the go, inspiring us with her words from some of the world's most beautiful locations.
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