Much as we all love our nine-to-five routines, some strange folks seem to think staying at home is better. Leaving the workplace for a nomadic existence is all the rage, too. Thanks to the internet, the opportunity is there to swap your cheap plastic chair and wan cup of coffee for a beach-side lounger and pineapple juice.
Leaving pipe dreams aside, the pros and cons of ditching the office and working from home, or wherever else, may be unclear. There are many benefits to working remotely and some may surprise you.
We’re going to look at the pluses in this article and give you a few tips to get on your feet if you’re just starting out with remote work.
A Better Environment
If you drive to work every day, your car is pumping toxic gases into the atmosphere. If you don’t, it isn’t. It’s simple, but getting all seven billion of us to understand that might take time. Spread the word.
Trains are better for the environment than cars, but being stuck in a crowded carriage for hours every week is nobody’s idea of fun. As you stare into a stranger’s armpit at 8 a.m. on a Monday, you may wonder if there’s a better way.
Ditch the commute for good and you can spend those traveling hours doing something more productive. If you want to come up with a few things to do with the time, read our battle of the productivity apps piece, where we compare some of the best to-do list software.
Some people love meetings. If that’s you, great. If you’re one of the saner people among us, though, avoiding meetings, interruptions and workplace distractions is a great reason to work from home.
Working remotely isn’t for everyone. Some prefer the regular face time and socializing that you get at the office. Of course you can combine the two and work from home a few days a week, provided your boss is willing.
There is plenty of software dedicated to making it easier to stay in touch with your co-workers. If you want to know how to make remote work easy, taking advantage of the right tools is key. Finding a balance between your new freedom and getting things done takes effort. Being your own boss might make you appreciate your last one.
Though you may start out dreaming of roaming the world, beware of getting stuck at home all day. It pays to come up with a routine and schedule regular exercise time. Forgetting to do so is a common pitfall for new remote workers.
When you don’t have to leave the house in the morning, a savvy home worker can take some of the time they would have spent commuting and use it to exercise instead. If you’re sensible about that, your hour on the train can become 30 minutes on the treadmill.
If not, then you only have yourself to blame for the consequences. Something as simple as an afternoon walk can help you stay fit on days when you don’t have a reason to go anywhere.
If you find yourself staring at the same four walls for too long, and you don’t feel like spending all day in a cafe, there are many coworking spaces. For a small charge, they let you spend the day with a group of like-minded remote workers.
They’re offices you can go to and leave any time you want.
Clearing Your Wardrobe and Fattening Your Wallet
If you hate spending money on ties, suits and all the rest, rejoice. Remote workers need one shirt, period. The only time you’ll wear it is in Skype meetings. It might be worth purchasing a couple if you have regular meetings, but with clever lighting, even that can be avoided.
Online workers will need a strong online presence and a good photo is an important part of that. Make sure to use the best photo editing software available to make sure you look as good as possible.
Do try to maintain a personal hygiene regimen, though, and if you plan on attending meetings in your pajamas, remember to switch your webcam off first.
You’ll also save money on commuting if you choose to work from home. You will have to buy your own equipment, though, unless you work for a company that pays your expenses.
New Routine, New Skills
With great power comes great responsibility, and being in charge of your own time is daunting if you aren’t used to it. That said, it does present you with an opportunity to get better at all sorts of things.
If dining at home, you may go through a lot of pot noodles at first. Eventually, you may find yourself learning to cook, simply because you’ve been eating nothing but instant noodles and biscuits for three years.
Managing your time is challenging, but rewarding. In addition to handling your scheduling, you can bolster your output by analyzing and improving the way you work. Workplace automation software can help you with routine tasks. We compared two services in our Zapier vs IFTTT article, which will give you a good idea of what can be done.
Remote freelancers will need to handle being paid online. Banking and money transfers can be managed using online services. If you are handling your income and expenses, as well as filing your taxes, then an online accounting service could be useful.
It isn’t only workers that can benefit from remote work. Managers can, too. Hard as it may be to believe, your staff may do more if they don’t have to spend hours in traffic, only to spend half their day in meetings. Increased job satisfaction goes hand in hand with higher productivity, making it a win-win situation for businesses.
Your happier workers will need to be kept up to speed with what is happening, though. Fortunately, the best project management software lets you divide tasks among the members of your team and helps everyone keep track of them, regardless of where they are.
With remote work, you can not only go where you want, you can go when you want. Shop when the shops are empty, visit your local attractions during off-season on a Tuesday and go to the bank when it’s open. You will also be free to pick up the kids or do the laundry when it is convenient.
The flip side of that is your work can leach into your evenings and weekends, leaving you with little time that feels disconnected from your job. Maintaining boundaries is a good idea, so scheduling some fixed popcorn time, when you absolutely will not work or reply to emails, is important.
Burnout helps no one.
Every day can be different if you want it to be. You don’t have to avoid the morning commute, but you can take it in a new direction or do it whenever you feel like. You can take your laptop to the beach, the library or a cafe. With remote work, the world is your oyster. Just be prepared to buy a lot of coffee, so you don’t outstay your welcome.
Traveling the globe with a laptop is a real possibility. In fields such as journalism and software development, for example, you can work from anywhere and upload your work via the cloud.
If you are traveling, cloud services are more useful than usual, as they remove the need for local storage and mitigate the risk of losing work if your laptop is lost or damaged. Take a look at our online cloud storage comparison to see if you can find a suitable service.
Internet speeds vary from place to place. When traveling, you’ll need to make sure you have a decent connection wherever you go. If you find yourself having difficulty, our how to speed up your internet connection guide may be of use.
When using internet cafes or connecting to wireless services around the world, it pays to be vigilant about cybercrime. Keep a close eye on what you connect to and what you click. Signing up for a good VPN for travelers will help keep you safe, too.
The death of the office hasn’t come yet, but it may be closer than you think. More and more of us are choosing to go our own way and work how, and where, we want. It has many advantages and there is plenty of software to make it easier and clear some of the hurdles remote workers face.
If you are thinking of making the switch and saying goodbye to the daily commute, we hope we’ve given you food for thought. If you have tried working remotely, share your experiences with us in the comments below. Thanks for reading.