The pandemic has propelled the remote work revolution, forcing companies to embrace work from home culture for the safety of their employees. As organizations and the workforce embrace the freedom and flexibility it provides, remote work has redefined the traditional working environment and can be a divisive topic among employers and employees. According to a study by Owl Labs, in 2022, 78% of employees surveyed said that they prefer to work remotely (42%) or have a hybrid option (36%). According to that same study, only 21% of employers allow their employees to work from anywhere with no limitations. In this blog, we’ll explore the benefits, drawbacks and tips on how to make a remote position work for you!
Let’s start by discussing all of the great things working remotely offers; the first is saving money! Have you ever had an office bestie and an hour-long lunch break? I’ve spent countless lunch breaks making Target runs, Starbucks stops, and having sit-down lunches (all of which were not reimbursable). Working from home, I don’t feel like I have an hour to kill or need to ‘get out of the office’. It’s more of a hassle to get in my car and drive to lunch than walking to my kitchen and grabbing something to eat. Also in the “saving money” category is spending less on my car’s gas and wear and tear. I have a 0-mile commute to my office, so I’m no longer filling my gas tank twice a week. My 0-mile commute is also great for the environment!
Speaking of commutes and savings, let’s talk about the amount of time saved thanks to remote work. The commute from my living room to my office takes me less than 5 seconds. Gone are my days of calculating my precise departure time to avoid traffic and get to work on time. My commute to work used to be 35 mins one-way (if there wasn’t an unforeseen traffic jam). That’s an hour and ten minutes PER DAY I lost sitting in my car. That’s almost six hours a week; six hours per week for 52 weeks is around 13 days per year spent commuting! I’m happy to get that time back to clean my house, do some laundry, prepare dinner and spend time with my family (read: more flexibility and work-life balance).
Not only is working remotely beneficial for employees, but there are also many great perks for employers! The first is, you guessed it, saving money! Based on conservative assumptions, Global Workplace Analytics’ estimates a typical U.S. employer can save an average of $11,000 per half-time telecommuter per year. The primary savings result from increased productivity, lower real estate costs, reduced absenteeism and turnover, and better disaster preparedness. Additionally, offering remote work opens up opportunities to tap into a wider talent pool, fostering diversity within teams and bringing in fresh perspectives.
Although I would love to tell you it’s all sunshine and roses, there are a few challenges when it comes to working remotely. Some people feel that it is difficult to stay focused, that there is a lack of connectedness with your co-workers and that it is more difficult to collaborate on projects if you’re not in office.
Here are a few ways you can combat those challenges and really set yourself up for success in a remote environment:
Have a routine
Set your alarm like you would if you were going into the office. Get up and have breakfast, take your dog for a walk, do some meditating or go to the gym to get your day started, now that you don’t have that daunting commute in front of you! It always feels good to start your day with something productive. Set your “working hours” and your lunch breaks and put them on your calendar so you and your coworkers know exactly what time you’ll be logged in and when you won’t be.
Create a designated space for work
If you’re sitting in your living room with your laptop in front of you, of course your going to be distracted by the tv, the dishes piling up in your sink, the laundry that needs to be done (although hopefully you’re tackling these tasks in small batches as you have a gap in your work day). Create space for yourself where you know “if I’m sitting here, I’m working.” It’s great if you have an office or spare room with a door, but if not, set up a small desk and comfortable chair in the corner of a room (preferably next to a window), and use that as your designated workspace.
Log off at the end of the day
The designated space will help you log off at the end of the day and truly be OFF. Take all of your work apps off of your phone (or at least turn notifications off) and tell yourself at the end of the day, you’re done. This can be difficult (I, myself, am guilty of putting my daughter to bed and logging back in to work some days), but I can guarantee that ALMOST everything can wait. It’s important for you to have time away from work, especially if your office is at home. If your designated work space is in your living room or kitchen, put your laptop elsewhere at the end of the day. Out of sight, out of mind!
Participate or create affinity groups at work
At Merit America, we have plenty of affinity groups and an Enjoy the Ride committee to keep co-workers connected in a virtual world. If your current employer offers them, join them! If they don’t, talk to your manager or HR team to see if you can get one started. Affinity groups are a great way to connect with people outside of your direct team that share a common interest or identity characteristic.
In conclusion, remote work has undoubtedly become a game-changer in the modern working landscape. While everyone has their own thoughts and opinions about it, the benefits of remote work are hard to ignore. Remote work offers unparalleled freedom and flexibility. By embracing its advantages and implementing effective strategies, you can make remote work work for you. So, whether you’re sipping coffee in your home office, attending virtual meetings in your pajamas, or taking a break to enjoy the sunshine outside, remote work opens a world of possibilities for a fulfilling work-life balance. Embrace the remote work revolution and enjoy the journey!
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