The digital age has revolutionized the way we work. We no longer need to be physically present in the office to do our jobs, as remote work makes it possible from our own homes or on the move.
But is that always a good thing?
Over the last few years, many companies have begun to embrace remote working as the “new normal”.
However, is it really living up to its hype?
The debate on doing office work virtually today is more divided than ever. While some consider it a blessing, others are equally critical of its drawbacks.
So, it’s high time we took an objective look at both the pros and cons of working remotely to better understand what it entails. And that’s exactly what this blog post seeks to do!
I have closely observed and scrutinized the pros and cons of remote work, from different perspectives of employees as well as employers. This blog post is the compilation of my findings with you in order to find the answer to the question: working remotely — yay or nay ?
Certain job roles require people to come to a specific location or to be physically present. So, these pros and cons of remote jobs will only apply to office roles that are compatible with the virtual setting.
- What is Remote Work?
- Advantages of Remote Work
- The Employee Perspective on the Advantages
- The Employer Perspective on the Advantages
- Disadvantages of Remote Work
- The Final Verdict on the Pros and Cons of Working Remotely
What is Remote Work?
Remote work is when employees complete their duties without having to come into the office. This can include telecommuting, working from home, or even working from a remote office space.
And it’s no longer limited to certain job roles either! From freelancers to customer service reps, from consultants to instructors, remote work is now everywhere.
despite people working from “anywhere” nowadays, remote jobs typically translate to WFH (working from home). And in many cases, they ARE interchangeable.
Now, the idea of avoiding the commute and working from home or anywhere else in the world can sound appealing. But, there are some pros and cons of remote work that should be considered.
What are they?
Let’s take a look at both the advantages and the disadvantages…
from 2 different perspectives: the employers and the employees.
Advantages of Remote Work
Let’s start with the benefits
I’ll go over each individual benefit of remote jobs one after another from two different perspectives. The most popular perspective around the concept of working remotely is the employee perspective, so I’ll be kicking off with that one
The Employee Perspective on the Advantages
For your convenience, I’ve divided the employee advantages of working remotely into a few subcategories. Let’s go through them one by one —
Financial gains of working from home/anywhere
The biggest question modern-day workers face while searching/opting for WFH jobs is,
can you save money? Is the potential cost savings really worth relinquishing an office environment?
Here are the financial upper hands of going remote for work ⤵️
Advantage #1: Reduced transportation costs
Working from home eliminates the need to commute to an office , saving you money on transportation costs. Depending on where you live and how far you commute, this could add up to hundreds to even thousands of bucks in savings!
Advantage #2: Lower expenditure on food
Working in an office often comes with grabbing lunch, coffee, or occasional snacks during the workday, which can quickly add up. Also, if the meal is provided by the office but it’s either partially subsidized or fully unsubsidized, then that’s also an added financial burden for you.
By working from home, you have the option to prepare your own meals and snacks — saving you money in the long run!
Advantage #3: No extra cost on work attire
Going to a workplace requires following a certain dress code. While many offices (especially in the tech industry) now have a laid-back culture in clothing, some still prefer formal attire for their employees . All these can be expensive for some people if need to buy stuff only to go to work.
Working from home eliminates the need to dress in a specific manner. You can wear anything you want while working from home!
That way, you can save money on dry cleaning, buying new work clothes, or other clothing costs associated with office outfits.
Advantage #4: Cutting down on additional expenses
Working from home often provides increased flexibility in work hours. If you have a flexible work schedule, you’ll be able to save money in lots of different ways . Be it by avoiding expensive daycare costs, quick lunch fixes, or saving time by not having to commute during rush hour.
Increased Flexibility and Control
Remote companies offer increased flexibility and control over both your work hours and your environment. That, in turn, allows you to create a schedule that works best for you and your life.
Be it employed by a company or freelancing as a contractor! Remote work gives you the freedom to optimize your workflow and design a workspace that is tailored to your individual needs. ✌️
Here are some key benefits in terms of flexibility that remote jobs can give you
Advantage #5: Flexibility in work hours
Working remotely, in most cases, provides greater flexibility in work hours. So, you can choose a work routine that suits your needs and lifestyle.
There are many benefits that come with this. You can enjoy working outside of the boring 9 to 5. Or, you can adjust your schedule to accommodate family responsibilities . And guess what, you can take time off when needed without having to formally request the employer!
Advantage #6: Control over the work environment
Working remotely gives you control over your workspace, location, and equipment customized to your needs and preferences. That increases comfort and reduces distractions, which results in a more productive and enjoyable experience!
For digital nomads, working remotely provides even greater control over their work environment. And it allows them to work from any place they want and in time periods of their choice!
Digital nomads can work from anywhere in the world. They are free to travel to new and exciting locations while still maintaining their work commitments. This freedom and flexibility allow them to explore new cultures, meet new people, and experience different ways of life — all while maintaining their careers!
Have you heard of the hustle culture and “breaking out of 9 to 5” by grinding hard?
Here’s my take on it Why Hustle Culture is Toxic!
Advantage #7: Better work-life balance
Working remotely provides greater control over your schedule and allows you to adjust it to suit your lifestyle and priorities.
What are the benefits, you ask?
Ans. improved work-life balance, giving you more time to spend with your family, pursue hobbies, and focus on self-care!
And who can forget the mental benefits?
A healthy work-life balance has a tremendous effect on a person’s mental health and overall well-being.
So, if done correctly, working from home can take you toward living a mentally healthier life!
Advantage #8: No time constraint
The ability to work from any location with a stable internet connection provides a great deal of flexibility.
No longer do you have to be confined to an office for 8 hours every day! Instead, you can work from your home, your favorite coffee shop, or anywhere else in the world.
This flexibility of time allows you to be your own manager. That is, you’re free to manage your personal and professional life with ease, fitting work into your schedule in a way that best suits your needs.
Overall, working out of the office can give you all the flexibility and added advantages — but only if you’re up for them!
Improvement in Focus and Productivity
This part is actually quite tricky, as everyone has their own way of working. So, how productive and focused a person depends entirely upon his/her work style.
That said, office environments CAN get too distracting or unfit for work. In those cases, remote work can come to the rescue! ♂️
Here are the answers
Advantage #9: Reduced distraction
Yes, working in a busy office full of colleagues is always fun. But sometimes, they do interrupt your workflow.
Working remotely means no more noisy workplace, water cooler gossip sessions, or last-minute meetings to pull you away from your work. This allows you to focus on important tasks and complete them efficiently.
I’m not against the idea of socializing in person or any of the stuff mentioned above. This situation is only applicable when things get out of hand or productivity gets seriously messed up.
Advantage #10: Increased headspace
The term ‘headspace’ has different meanings. What I’m referring to here is the time to be yourself and think clearly — free from mental pressure and the noise of everyday life.
Remote work provides the headspace and also the necessary time to think about tasks and projects more deeply. This makes you better at proactive problem-solving and better decision-making!
And not just work-related stuff, you’ll have your headspace to wander around your mind and the beautiful realms it creates! ️
More & More Time in Hand
Time is money, right? So, ‘earning’ some extra time for yourself and managing it like a boss is one of the biggest motivations in our ever-busy lives of today!
Do virtual offices offer you this benefit? Let’s find out
Advantage #11: Flexibility to manage time
With no set schedule, you as a remote worker can manage your time in the best way.
Take breaks whenever it feels right, work when you feel most productive, and structure the day in a way that maximizes efficiency, productivity, and above all: mentally satisfying!
Except for the cases of important meetings and catching up on deadlines, remote is the way to go if you want to be your own manager of time!
Advantage #12: More focus on important tasks
Without the distractions of a traditional office, working remotely comes with the perk of being able to prioritize and focus on important tasks. What’s more — you can allot more time to the tasks that require your attention the most.
The lack of commute and other time-killers can also save valuable time that can be used to get a head start on the day’s work.
Let’s put on a different hat and talk about the pros of working remotely from the perspective of employers… ⤵️
The Employer Perspective on the Advantages
Just like the employee perspectives I discussed above, the employer perspectives are divided into multiple subcategories.
We’ll kick off with the most obvious one…
Access to a Wider (and Better) Pool of Talents
Question: What is the #1 headache of employers around the globe?
Answer: The human resource of a company/business. It ranges from finding the right talent to retaining them throughout calendar years (which is easier said than done!).
And guess what, a remote workforce provides a range of solutions to this problem for employers worldwide. Here’s how —
Advantage #13: Diversifying the workforce
Remote work has the potential to bring together individuals from different parts of the world. It has removed the geographical distance of the workforce.
As a result, employers can benefit from completely different perspectives and work styles!
Since remote employees may represent underrepresented groups, it allows companies to meet their diversity and inclusion goals! Also, people from rural backgrounds, who typically can not manage city-based jobs, can easily take on remote roles.
All these help companies break out of cookie-cutter molds and start innovating!
Advantage #14: Attracting top talent globally
Getting the best in the biz onboard has 2 common issues for employers:
- Not getting the desired quality/skills in the local talent
- The perfect candidate not willing to move/relocate
By offering remote work options, organizations can bypass both of these issues! It allows them to seal the deal with top talents who may not have considered the company otherwise — mainly due to the physical distance/location.
Remote facilities also provide a competitive advantage for employers as they can tap into a global pool of talent. They can find the best possible candidates for their positions!
Employers can access top professionals from different locations, time zones, and cultures. This brings out a wider range of expertise and perspectives to choose from.
Advantage #15: Unique skills and specialized knowledge
Acquiring remote employees also opens the door to unique skills and specialized knowledge. As a result, employers are able to draw from an expansive selection of qualified professionals.
Also, sticking to locally available workers or the ones who can come to the office physically is sometimes problematic. They may lack that ‘zing’ or the expertise needed. So, virtual job opportunities can open the door to that.
Helps Maintain an Efficient Organizational Model
We’ve discussed all the jibber-jabber about money, time, talent, and all that. But from a business perspective, can WFH and virtual settings help elevate the operations and the organizational model?
Let’s find out!
Advantage #16: Better collaboration across teams
Remote work enables teams to communicate and collaborate with ease, regardless of location and time zone. Virtual meetings, conference calls, and online file-sharing platforms promote clear communication and teamwork.
This is beneficial for businesses operating across multiple offices, countries, or even continents.
Advantage #17: Performance reviews and feedback sessions
Reviews and feedbacks are essential components of a successfully-running business. But conducting them regularly is always a hassle.
Thankfully, remote settings can help change that scenario!
The primary benefit of conducting performance reviews and feedback sessions remotely is an environment of trust and openness. Since employees won’t need to be physically present, they may be more comfortable in a remote setting. This, in turn, influences deeper conversations and enhanced self-reflection!
Another benefit is that employers are able to have a more detailed view of their employees’ progress. With digital tools and platforms, managers can track KPIs over time in order to gain an accurate picture of each employee’s individual performance.
It’s also easier to pinpoint areas that need improvement and provide timely feedback.
Potential for Increased Performance from Employees
What matters the most in a business is its end result — the output, the stability, the revenue, and all that! And the prerequisite for those results is the optimal performance from the employees/workers.
Here’s how a remote office helps with that —
Advantage #18: Boosted productivity and efficiency
It’s every employer’s dream to maximize the productivity of his/her workforce, right?
Remote work offers increased productivity and efficiency from employees in a healthy manner. With the freedom of WFH, employees can create workspaces tailored to their preferences and increase efficiency!
Advantage #19: Improved employee well-being
As mentioned above, remote jobs have an amazing impact on employee well-being.
Reducing the stress and fatigue associated with daily commutes and other hassles can improve mental health and satisfaction. This leads to a more motivated and engaged workforce.
And on that end, remote opportunities can come to aid!
Reduced Absence and Improved Employee Retention
These two issues are pretty much self-explanatory, so I’ll just go straight to the point
Advantage #20: Lower absence rates
Absences at a workplace can happen for loads of different reasons. For example: sickness, family emergency, urgent work at banks or someplace else, etc.
While emergencies like falling sick can’t be averted, some absences can be solved with remote jobs.
If employees get the option for a virtual office, they can either work in multiple time periods or join from home without commuting. So, instead of taking a leave, they have the option to work in some capacity — be it for the whole day or partially.
With flexible working hours, the employees will be able to balance personal commitments. They can attend appointments without taking time off. So, it’s a no-brainer that fewer hours will be lost due to absenteeism!
Advantage #21: Improved employee retention
This one is a bit tricky, as it won’t be applicable to all. But, given the advent of remote jobs, it’s more relevant today than ever!
Offering remote options can provide employees with an added level of flexibility and autonomy, which can increase job satisfaction and incentivize them to stay with the company long-term.
If retention is the area you struggle with, maybe give WFH/work from anywhere a try!
Cost Optimization/Reduction in Business
Cost optimization — two words every business owner or stakeholder loves to hear in any situation!
And let me tell you a secret: virtual office operations can actually help in that matter
Advantage #22: Decreased business and infrastructure costs
The cost reduction by going remote is actually more widespread than you’d imagine. Here’s a simple list of areas where remote employees can influence cost optimization for your business:
- When employees work remotely, an employer no longer needs to provide a dedicated physical workspace. This reduces overhead costs such as electricity, air conditioning, heating, and rent for office space.
- There are a number of additional costs associated with physical assets such as laptops, printers, and other office supplies that can be minimized by going remote.
- Hiring a remotely manageable workforce significantly can often minimize the size of teams. This decreases in-person training and employee development costs, as well as reduces the costs associated with social security, taxes, and insurance premiums.
So many advantages of remote work from the employers’ perspective, right?
Advantage #23: No travel or relocation expense
Remote operations of a business also reduce the need for travel and relocation expenses. This includes airfare and the cost of relocating staff. There are also the recurring costs of providing housing, transport, and everyday necessities.
Employers who offer remote work don’t need to pay for transportation allowances (TA) or hire services for employee commutes. This can result in even more cost savings for your business.
That means there are (at least) 23 different reasons why employers and employees should try or opt for taking their business operations online and running their office work remotely.
Now, it’s time to hear the other side of the story the reasons why people should NOT opt for remote office work — be it for employees or employers!
Disadvantages of Remote Work
There are always two sides of the same coin.
So, if I’ve compiled 23 different reasons to go remote professionally, there must be a flipside to that argument.
And yes, there is!
So, what are those cons of remote work? ⤵️
The Employee Perspective on the Disadvantages
I’m doing the same this time as well by starting with the employee point of view. Also, the subcategories are present here for a more convenient experience for you.
Communication & Information
Disadvantage #1: Misunderstanding & Miscommunication
When you’re a remote employee, physical distance is a big concern. It leads to difficulty keeping in touch with coworkers or even misunderstandings. Even with the remote tools and processes, there can still be communication gaps paving the way to frustration and poor relationships.
Possible solutions to this issue can include setting up regular check-ins with coworkers, establishing clear expectations and boundaries, and being open to investing time into building strong relationships.
Or, taking advantage of technology, such as video conferencing, messaging, and other remote work tools can make it relatively easier to connect and stay on top of tasks.
But no alternate solution can truly replace one-to-one or physical contact, so there’s that!
Disadvantage #2: Lack of access to information
Let’s face it — remote workers don’t have the same access to resources and information compared to traditional office settings. This issue is more severe in those businesses a mix of in-person and remote employees or a hybrid model is present.
Fortunately, technology has provided some solutions to this problem. There are now many tools available to help remote workers stay organized, connected, and up-to-date.
That said, it’s important to recognize that access to information in remote culture will never be 100% the same as in the in-person work setting. Then again, if the organization is fully remote with its workforce, that’d not be an issue.
Social & Mental Health Issues
This might be the most critical and sensitive part of employee welfare nowadays. We’re talking about the mental health conditions and the social state of remote staff.
Disadvantage #3: Lack of social interaction
As humans, we crave connection and physical touch. And without the office environment, we are left feeling isolated and disconnected — for 8 hours a day on average!
Yes, remote work comes with chatting on Slack, meeting on Zoom, and all that. But are these the replacement for in-person interactions?
A solution to these social issues is to plan occasional meetups. Depending on your team size and preferences, this could be anything from a shared movie night to a Q&A session. By actively engaging with each other as a team, members can start to build great relationships and meaningful connections.
Disadvantage #4: Loneliness and isolation
Continuing from the prior disadvantage, loneliness, and isolation are also serious problems of remote jobs. These issues can harm the overall well-being and ability to succeed in the job.
Now, there are a number of fixes for this. ⤵️
First, there needs to be a self-realization that how much virtuality and isolation can you handle. If you’re strictly against them and extroversion is your superpower, then maybe steer clear of remote opportunities.
After that, you as a remote employee should look after your leisure and post-work activities. Those hours should include more and more social interchange and human connectivity.
Last but not least, you must connect with your co-workers during or after your work hours in some capacity. As you’re working 9 to 5 with them, building humane relationships can go a long way!
Disadvantage #5: Distractions at home
This disadvantage applies only to WFH. People working remotely but not from their homes won’t go through this issue.
Our homes are often full of activities that may tempt us away from our work, such as family members, TV, or pet projects. These types of distractions can really interrupt your flow of work and hamper productivity.
Though it’s easy to get sidetracked, staying focused and on task is critical to achieving success in a remote environment. To prevent disruptions, it’s essential to create a designated workspace and set clear expectations with family members about work hours.
Additionally, try to limit screen time for leisure activities, especially during business hours. Making a to-do list or using an app can also help you stay organized and on track.
With that, I’m wrapping up everything from the employees’ side.
Now, it’s the turn for the other voice to be heard.
The Employer Perspective on the Disadvantages
Employers, business stakeholders, and hiring managers also face numerous obstacles while hiring or maintaining a remote arsenal of employees. So, what are they?
Management Challenges in Business
Disadvantage #6: Leadership in virtual settings
Leadership in remote cultures can be particularly tricky since many traditional management styles are not conducive to a remote setting.
Additionally, due to the distance between them, remote leaders may not have a clear understanding of their team members’ individual strengths. That leads to a lack of recognition for hard work and difficulty in providing helpful feedback.
Remote leaders and employers must make sure the employees have the communication tools and access to relevant projects and tasks in order to stay productive and engaged. Otherwise, there is the risk of their team members becoming disengaged, unmotivated, and even burned out!
Disadvantage #7: Increased need for meetings
Virtual meetings have become a necessity in the remote work landscape. Businesses are realizing that just because employees don’t work in the same physical space. So, there is still a need for face-to-face (or computer-to-computer) communication.
But, there are numerous factors to consider with this form of meeting:
- Getting the required active participation and input from the meeting attendees
- Informing the attendees and providing the required resources before the meeting takes place
- Ensuring everyone has the same level of priority in participation and voicing their opinions
- Confirming the availability of all remote participants prior to the start of the meeting
- Providing appropriate follow-up to the virtual meeting, such as notes and action items, to keep all participants on the same page
- Making sure all participants clearly understood everything discussed throughout the meeting including the outcomes
BTW, some of the issues mentioned above can also happen with physical meetings as well.
That being said, if proper measures are taken to resolve/avert all the scenarios above, virtual meetings are good to go! ✌️
Disadvantage #8: Difficulty in providing training and support
This one is a critical issue, to say the least. It’s also a major dealbreaker for career-centric professionals joining a remote workplace.
For starters, it is much harder to teach new skills or offer guidance to employees who work remotely. The same is the case with employee onboarding or handing over project details. Not being able to demonstrate in person often comes with misunderstandings or gaps in knowledge.
In addition, employers can’t provide feedback as quickly or provide assistance with issues of their employees.
Overall, many employers struggle to provide adequate training and support to their remotely working staff due to the lack of face-to-face interaction. This can impact the overall effectiveness of their staff and limit the opportunities for their employees to learn and grow.
Here’s another difficulty in training and upskilling staff
Dealing with the Dunning-Kruger Effect at Work!
Collaboration and Cohesion
An organization runs on the synergy among the employees and their interpersonal chemistry. So, if they find a lack of cohesion and collaboration in tasks and projects, isn’t that a problem?
Disadvantage #9: Decreased teamwork opportunities
Teamwork is an essential element of any successful organization. It allows members to share ideas and perspectives, provide feedback, and develop solutions based on collective intelligence.
Being physically apart from your colleagues can lead to fewer opportunities for informal collaboration and communication. That, ultimately, reduces the effectiveness of working as a team. And without regular face-to-face interaction, it’s harder to build relationships with team members.
Also, when working remotely, it can be difficult to keep up with colleagues’ progress. This can also hamper the team’s ability to deliver results on time.
Yes, there are tools and platforms available to eradicate these concerns.
But the question is: are they enough?
Disadvantage #10: Maintaining company culture and cohesion
When it comes to maintaining company culture and cohesion, remote work can be a double-edged sword! ⚔️
On one hand, encouraging remote work gives employers the opportunity to tap into a much wider geographical talent pool. I’ve already discussed the benefits of that earlier.
But that comes with a price — company culture.
Many employers like to foster a sense of togetherness in their workplace. Remote work can make it difficult for teams to build meaningful relationships. It can also be hard to ensure that all employees are on the same page about company values and goals.
Additionally, remote employees may miss out on important information or training opportunities on the company values and norms.
Therefore, as an employer, it’s important to consider the potential impact of remote work on your corporate culture. Not just that, there should be a plan for mitigating the issues.
Creating clear and consistent communication protocols, hosting virtual events, and utilizing project management tools are all useful strategies to help maintain a sense of cohesion and togetherness among your remote workers.
That means there are (at least) 10 different reasons why employers and employees often avoid or opt out of remote offices.
The Final Verdict on the Pros and Cons of Working Remotely
23 advantages vs. 10 disadvantages!
Strictly based on numbers and from both the perspectives of employers as well as employees, we can see that the advantages of remote work clearly outweigh the disadvantages!
But… that’s not the bottom line.
This whole discussion will vary depending on multiple criteria including industry/sector, cultural context, business size, etc.
It’s also safe to say that remote work is here to stay. Name it however you wish — work from home, work from anywhere, hybrid working — working full-time or part-time remotely has its benefits. So, it’s better to be adaptive and have an open mind toward this emerging work culture.
That’s it! Leave your comments below so that we can have a constructive discussion on the topic — cheers!