A growing number of businesses are replacing bulky desktop computers with laptops and docks, eliminating costly overhead while giving employees a dose of freedom. This newfound mobility has caused employers to consider the perks and problems that come with remote work. As with any major shift in office culture, there's benefits and pitfalls that come with change.
Everybody's home life is as unique as their workflow. Whether you have a full-fledged home office or a little bit of space at the kitchen table, there are ways to make a work-from-home day as productive as a stint in the office. As always, there are also ways that a remote workday can go off the rails. Weigh your options-- is it worth the work to make working from home work out?
Pro: The Sound of Silence… Or Not?
Can you hear that? It's the sound of whatever you want. Whether you're listening to Simon &Garfunkel sing The Sound of Silence through your surround sound speakers or it's the peaceful din of an open window, there are no boundaries on your workday soundtrack. Keep the radio off and enjoy the peace of a chatter-free workday or pump up the jams; there's nobody around to tell you to quiet down.
Con: Distractions, Distractions, Distractions
All of the comforts of home are within an arm's reach-- that includes all sorts of wonderful distractions. Televisions, pets, and snacks are waiting for you at all times, and we all know that binging a Netflix series is more fun than wading through another spreadsheet. Resisting temptation is a full-time job in itself; by scheduling your day in advance, you'll find that there's no time to dawdle outside of any pre-planned breaks. Be sure to pencil in some time for lunch and an afternoon breather but try to stay on schedule and meet reasonable goals before "this will just take a minute" takes up the whole workday.
Pro: A Home Away from Home
Take the show on the road once in a while. Break up the workday with a few hours at a café or hit up a local coworking space. Anyplace with internet--or even just a mobile hotspot--can be considered. Ensure that your tasks and working style are compatible with an outside area. We just discussed distractions; a new horizon can be a detriment to some while it may be a success for another.
Con: Incomplete Infrastructure
Two monitors are the new normal. High-speed internet is integral. A phone with conference capabilities is a must. If you haven't invested in the right tech for your home office, it can become hard to cope with job responsibilities that depend on the groundwork that exists in the office. Some companies even restrict access to high-risk servers over less secure connections. Some work is easy to accomplish with a single laptop screen but sometimes there's just a real-life firewall between your desk and the desire to work from the couch.
Pro: A Few Fewer Sick Days
It's impossible to predict and even harder to prevent a rousing bout of stomach flu or the throes of a head cold. When the sickness strikes, it's unfair to bring the bug into the office, but by the time it starts to wane there's still a bit of "should I or shouldn't I?" when the workday comes around. If you remembered to bring your laptop home, it's a no-brainer-- take the day from the comforts of home and keep your pajamas on until the day is done. You'll heal faster and be operating at full-speed in no time at all.
Con: We All Need Somebody to Lean On
Have you ever hollered over your cube to see if your neighbor knows what's going on? Or knocked on your boss' door for quick clarification on a present problem? Even in the days of inter-office chat, there's a convenience and comfort that comes from person-to-person communication and it's hard to capture that energy in a phone call or instant message.