Now more than ever, the way we work is changing. Whether or not you’re new to remote work, the collective shift in the way we connect can be daunting. Working from home can feel like a pretty scary change if you’re new to it, but whether remote work is a chosen way of life for you or if you have been forced into it due to the coronavirus pandemic, it has a lot of benefits.
The commute is short
We’ll admit it. It’s pretty nice to be able to roll out of bed, get dressed, and walk to your office – all without leaving your house. No longer having a commute to work is probably the most noticeable change when you start working from home. Think of all the things you could do with that extra hour (or more!) commuting to and from work. If you live in a big city, or transfer between multiple public transit routes this could equate to a pretty big chunk of time. Not having a commute to work can also save you money, whether it’s the cost of gas, rideshares, or public transit tickets. And unless you were walking or cycling to work, it can help save the planet, too.
Some people don’t mind their work commute. They consider it a transition period between home life and work life, where they can read a book or listen to a podcast. If you’re one of these folks, note that you don’t need a commute to be able to do these things. If you want a transition ritual, there’s nothing stopping you from carving out some time to listen to your podcast, read a book, or listen to some music before you start work.
Your office can be anywhere (yes, anywhere!)
Now that you’re not working in a traditional office building, your “office” can be wherever you want it to. You can work from your couch, on your dining table, on the kitchen counter, or even from a cozy armchair in front of the fireplace. Most people enjoy creating some space designated for work. They find the separation of work and home life helps, or they simply need space to spread out their materials. But the beauty of working from home is that you have more control over the setup and location of your office, so take time to experiment and find out what works best for you.
The current shelter-in-place orders have limited remote workers’ options in terms of non-home locales, but after the coronavirus pandemic passes, there are many places to work from if you feel too cooped up at home. Local coffee shops, bookstores, or libraries are popular places people go to get work done. If you can truly afford to be untethered you can even go to the park or the beach. Mobile hotspots have made these kinds of scenarios possible.
You can live wherever you want
If we step back from the logistics of an office for a second, there is an ever bigger benefit to working from home. Your home can be wherever you want. You no longer have to live in the same town as your employer. You can live in a big city with many events and activities, or you can move to a rural town for some peace and quiet. You can move closer to family. You can even move to a tropical island! The options are endless. And even better, it’s totally up to you.
You design your office
You’re no longer subject to the whims of the faceless air conditioning gods! You can choose to make your home office warm or cool, depending on what makes you comfortable. You can also control the noise level. Do you do your best work with complete silence? Great, you can keep it that way. Does a motivational Spotify playlist really amp you up? You have total ability to blast music from every corner of your home. If you’re somewhere in the middle, or really enjoy ambient noise, you can mimic the sounds of a coffee shop. You are free to set up the ergonomics of your office to your liking as well: your own chair, your own monitors, laptop stand, etc.
If you want to (and can afford to) you can get even crazier: your office can bewhatever you like. If you need inspiration, folks at Pixar have come up with some creative offices over the years.
Dress however you like
Ever wanted to work in your pajamas? Well, now is your chance! If you’re not going to be in the office, nobody cares what you wear while working. Okay, maybe you still need to show yourself on a video call, and might want to consider donning a nice shirt. But at least you don’t have to be dressed up all the time. In the long run, you might even find yourself saving some money if you don’t need to buy suits or other fancy clothes as often.
Eat good food, always
Company-provided lunches (although generous) can often leave employees with little choice, especially if you’re a picky eater. When you work from home you have access to your own kitchen and can prepare much more healthy and custom options. This can also be a big money saver — $10 or even $15 for lunch isn’t unheard of in some big cities. If you truly miss dining out, you can still choose to go somewhere for lunch, and even meet up with a friend to combat any remote work related loneliness.
Another aspect to consider are the office snacks. An abundance of snacks in the office is usually touted as a perk in job descriptions. But since the snacks have to be non-perishable most offices end up stockpiling things like chips and candy. It’s this writer’s opinion that not having access to those is a perk of working from home. If you really, really want them, you can always buy them for yourself.
Fewer interruptions, more productivity
When working at home, you are much less likely to get interrupted. You won’t overhear random conversations or get pulled into one by colleagues chatting outside your office. You also have more control over anything that may interrupt you. At work, even if you’re trying to focus, someone can still choose to walk into your office and tap on your shoulder. But if you’re working from home and the only way to get your attention is via a chat program, you can turn off the notifications for a period where you really need to focus. Less interruptions means you get more work done.
Increased flexibility and work-life balance
Most jobs don’t require 100% of your attention continuously for 8 hours a day, 5 days a week. There is inevitably some down-time. Maybe you have a meeting in 10 minutes and can’t start anything meaningful in the interim. Or you really need an answer from someone before you can start a specific project. If you’re working from an office, you probably spend this time scrolling through your social media feeds. At home, you can make better use of this time by interweaving some chores or errands into your day. Start a load of laundry, water the plants, chop some ingredients so they’re ready for when you need to cook in the evening, run to the post office to mail a package, etc.
If you don’t necessarily have to do your work during business hours you have even more options. Some people choose to pick up their kids from school, spend time with them until dinner, and then make up the missed work during the evening.
Making calls is easy
Fighting for private space in an open office is challenging. It’s even more challenging when an important and unplanned call comes through that you have to take. Maybe it’s a prospect you’ve been speaking to for months and they’re finally ready to sign the contract. If your job involves making phone calls it might be easier to find a quiet place at home as opposed to an office environment with all its bustle.
Take off less time from work
If you feel yourself getting sick the best thing to do would be to stay home. Even if you are still capable of working, it would be nice to not spread germs to your colleagues. In a traditional work environment this might mean having to take the day off. But if you work from home, you can continue to do work as long as you feel comfortable doing so. Listen to your body if it says you need rest, but you might still end up with fewer days missed.
Improved job satisfaction
Being able to work from home signals a certain amount of trust. Your employer doesn’t need to be watching over your shoulder or see you in your seat to trust that you’re getting your job done. This trust and flexibility leads to a sense of empowerment and freedom, which is likely to increase your job satisfaction.
The transition to remote work is not always easy, especially during the current climate, but it can be incredibly rewarding. Explore our remote resource hub for tips and best practices on working remotely, effective communication with your remote team, and hosting engaging online meetings.