If Remote Work is Here to Stay, What Are the Benefits? And How Can This Impact the Future?
Since the COVID-19 pandemic hit, working from home has become the standard practice for most working professionals and organizations. It’s dumbfounding to think most of us have swapped our business attire with comfy sweats, our 2-hour commutes with a quick close of the laptop, and our long in-person meetings to more focused, time-conscious Zoom calls. While there are still resisting arguments saying that working remotely will not become the norm, it seems a large portion of societies worldwide have fully embraced the change and adopted it as standard practice. According to a recent article from Fortune, nearly a third of people “never want to return to the office.” Some businesses—the ones that arguably have always been at the forefront of innovation—completely upended their in-office policies, ending their leases to establish an entirely remote workforce.
While it’s entirely understandable not all professions can work in a virtual capacity, it’s critical to recognize we’ve established a new normal where organizations and employees can be happy and prosperous. It’s also vital to note there is still great value in working together in person. Human connection is not going to dissipate, even with a newer type of working environment. Humans are social creatures by nature, so working together is not disappearing; we’re simply evolving like we always do.
That being said, if work from home is here to stay, what are some of the benefits? And what could the future of work look like?
Throughout this feature, we’ll look at:
- Some significant benefits of remote work
- Ways to optimize your work from home success
- Important things to remember in any work environment
Benefits of Remote Work
First, we’ll dive into the beneficial implications of a remote workforce.
The Hybrid Model: A New Type of Working Environment
Sometimes, when one thing fades away, something entirely new is born in the process. With people working from home more permanently, it may become a trend to see individuals migrating to a communal workspace once or twice a week—solely to congregate and collaborate with other people. This ultimately creates a “hybrid” working environment and culture to shift further how we work. According to an article from the New York Times, the future of work will most likely change to a hybrid modality, where offices become places of collaboration, rather than just a place where everyone works. Although businesses like WeWork are currently undergoing many scrutiny and shifts in management, the communal office space business model may be more appealing for a post-covid work environment. This will arguably be the future for most workplaces everywhere—this middle ground intersection where employees can enjoy working from home and working in the office.
Greater Employee Satisfaction
One of the most prominent benefits of working from home is employee satisfaction. Although remote work isn’t for everyone, the New York Times reports that a notable amount prefers working virtually as a permanent system. Why? Well, for starters, there is more flexibility for employees. In extremely populous states such as California and New York, and highly populated cities, such as Chicago and Philadelphia, individuals can save a large portion of time in their day by not having to commute. Additionally, employees can tackle more projects in a shorter amount of time by not driving to the office to “start working.” Instead, employees can start their day while preparing their morning coffee and getting ready to crush the workweek.
Quite frankly, many companies may lose highly talented employees if they cannot adapt to a newer business model. There have been many rumblings throughout various industries where employees transparently admit to finding other employment if their current employers are unwilling to offer remote work options. It’s safe to say companies may see a noticeable resignation in talent if they do not adapt their work policies.
Saving and Earning Money
As mentioned in previous features, “time is money” is a phrase tied directly to working in a remote capacity. How so? Well, to start, cutting out your commute cuts back on personal costs. No commute—whether you live in a traffic frenzy state like California or rural roads in Wyoming—can save you a significant chunk of change. Less gas, fewer miles on your car, and less frequent time-eating out are ways you can fatten your wallet.
Additionally, you can save money by not upgrading your wardrobe consistently, especially if your office adheres to a specific dress code; you can save additional funds for the things you want to spend on. There isn’t a need for more clothes when working from home, so it’s a great way to remain minimalistic and enjoy the pieces you do have.
Working from home also affords you the flexibility to work a second job. Perhaps you obtain a job at a local store or use your vehicle to deliver food in your city. This enables you to get out of the house, maintain some human interaction, and secure a little more income on the side. The critical thing here is that working remotely gives you that time back, and that’s a true blessing in disguise. Time shouldn’t ever go to waste, so use it to your benefit!
Taking Time Off and Stopping the Spread
We all have days when we aren’t feeling our best but might not feel so terrible that we need to take a sick day. However, this can sometimes worsen if we are working too hard when our bodies aren’t at their most optimal. How many times have we gone into the office not feeling our best, and it starts to worsen throughout the day? And then, come to find out you’re sick and may have spread the germ to others in the office.
When working from home, you’re able to take the pace a little slower while still getting work done, not to mention you’re in a more conducive environment for getting better. You have access to more of the things you would need to heal at home, such as medicine, home remedies, and a more comfortable environment to help your body recoup. Additionally, you’re also doing a solid for your colleagues by not potentially spreading the sickness throughout the office, causing a more significant problem. No one wants to get sick, so if you’re able to avoid getting sick—or spreading it to others—that’s a huge plus, especially if you’re still able to get work done from home.
Using less time off is also a benefit for both the employee and employer. If one of your children is unwell, working from home allows you to take care of them without having to take the day off entirely. Additionally, if they require a doctor’s visit, there’s more flexibility because you don’t have to leave the office to pick them up, take them to the doctor, and then bring them back home. Instead, if you’re already at home, you cut out the “middleman” and can save yourself and your employer time by scheduling a time to be offline and then hop back into work once all is completed. While this may not always be as easy as the given example, when working from home, there is more flexibility for those “when life happens” moments and requires you to take time away from your desk.
Benefiting More Than Just Yourself
Surprisingly, virtual work can benefit more than just you but others as well. Let’s explore further.
Do you remember at the beginning of COVID when Los Angeles saw the clearest skies since the 1980s? That resulted from the halt on commuter traffic, which majorly pollutes the air and contributes to the environment’s degradation. Numerous studies point to how the digital revolution can be evergreen—financially speaking—for businesses and literally green for the environment. Working digitally might not be 100% eco-friendly, but it’s undoubtedly a massive step in the right direction. It will help us achieve our goals of decreasing our carbon footprints and encourage a sustainable future.
Your Loved Ones
Your family, friends, and of course, pets are the most vital pieces of life that genuinely make life worth living. Whether you’re at home all day with your furry friend in your lap or having the time to get the kids from school, the remote environment gives you the flexibility to spend more time with your loved ones.
Helping Other Professionals
For those who must be in-person to adequately perform in their work, such as medical professionals, having fewer people on the road can help them considerably with their commutes. If telecommuting employees can enjoy the benefits of time-saving, everyone else is equally deserving. Furthermore, saving money by working from home can open your pocketbook to more discretionary income that can be used to support local businesses, individuals in the service industry, and more.
Giving Back to Others
We all like to lend a helping hand when able, but it can be hard to juggle too many commitments, especially a career. Although, when working from home, it can be much easier to find ways to volunteer because, as stated many times, you’re adding time back to your time savings bank, which means you have more time open to do other things—like volunteer. Whether you’re serving the less fortunate at a food bank or helping foster cats with your local animal shelter, giving back makes the world a better place. So why not give some of your time back to those who need it most?
An exciting component that’s risen out of the digital revolution is the constant push for innovation. Sometimes the best inventions come out of necessity, and that’s proven to be true for many companies during the pandemic. There’s been a shift in essential jobs and the creation of new ones.
Did you know companies like Zipline create ways to deliver medical supplies via drones to at-need communities? This is helping to bridge the inequality gap between which demographics can get access to vital medical supplies first. Were you aware DoorDash has seen a significant increase in the use of its platform as consumers try to support local restaurants digitally? Did you know the development of “ghost kitchens'' allows newer restaurants and food ideas to come to fruition without needing massive resources or capital to get started?
No matter what the innovation, these new ideas can change the future for the better.
Comfort Cultivates Creativity
While you don’t need to live in comfy sweatpants to stimulate creativity, there’s something to be said about how being comfortable helps individuals be more creative. Why do you think places like Google and Petsmart have such fun office spaces? It’s because they realize a creative environment is conducive to their employee’s well-being and overall levels of creativity—which serves their employees as much as their business’s bottom line.
The same goes for working at home. We should all be comfortable in our spaces; that’s why we love them, right? Being comfortable at home takes away stressors professionals can face in the office and ultimately allows them to focus on the task at hand.
Ways to Optimize Your WFH (Work From Home) Success
Now that we’ve covered the basics let’s look at ways to promote a healthy and happy work from home lifestyle.
Plan Your Day
Just because you’re working from home doesn’t mean you get to wake up five minutes before an important meeting and hop on Zoom. Treat work from home like any other workday. Set a time to get up, get ready, get some things done, and jump into work.
Step Away Once a Day
On the flip side of not working enough, some can work too much when from home. It’s critical to be productive and get things done, but don’t forget to prioritize your breaks here and there. It’s good to take a step away and come back after a moment of rest. This also applies to leaving work at work. Once you’re done for the day, be done. Your work will be there tomorrow. So don’t allow yourself to work more than necessary.
Know When to Say “No”
You can apply this to various situations. Whether it’s your kids interrupting you during a meeting, your cat sitting on your keyboard while you’re composing an important email, or your colleague asking for too many favors during the day, working from home doesn’t mean you’re all of a sudden a superhuman. Remember to take on what you can handle and nothing more.
Work Comes First; Fun Comes Second
The fear of many employers always boils down to, “how will I know if my employees are going to be productive?” Firstly, you should trust your employees enough to do their jobs, period. Secondly, if employees are not performing to your expectations, speak to them about it and develop a plan. On the employee side, prioritize your work first, simple as that. While binging Netflix or playing Mario Kart for 8-hours a day sounds fun, it’s not what you’re getting paid for. So, simply remember work comes first, fun comes second!
Things to Remember for Any Work Environment
Regardless of being at home or in the office, there’s always a level of conduct employees should adhere to in a work environment. Being a good employee and colleague means showing up, getting things done, and getting them done well. Be dependable, do what you say you will, and always strive to go above and beyond whenever possible. Additionally, make it a priority to connect with your colleagues regularly. It’s incredible to have a semblance of privacy to focus on delivering your best work, but that doesn’t mean you should shut yourself out from the world. Instead, it should be a way to get creative and find ways to make the most of your time and make moments that count. We’re all human, trying to find our place in this big ole world. So, do your best to support and build each other up as we ride the wave of the future of work!