There’s no doubt we’re living in an ever-increasing, technology-driven society. We can communicate with people on the other side of the planet with the click of a mouse. We can have a full-course meal delivered to our door through an app on our smartphones. Driverless cars, Echo Smartpens to record sounds as you take notes, a smart scan mouse that scans whatever image you swipe the mouse over: Our days are filled with multiple forms of technology that benefit the way we live…. and how we work.
Sure almost every worker nowadays uses some form of technology to do their jobs, but technological advancements have allowed companies to take one step further and change not just how an employee works, but where. According to a CNN article, the number of Americans who work from home has increased by 41 percent in the last decade. The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that around 13.4 million people in the country work from home. More and more companies are hiring remote and telecommuting workers. For those used to the typical 9am-5pm grind, the idea of working from home sounds like heaven, but for every benefit there is a downfall.
Below are six pros and cons of working from home, things to take into consideration if you’re leaning toward a virtual position:
Working from home offers a lot more independence than a common office job. Remote workers typically have more freedom because 1) they don’t have a boss or manager breathing down their necks and 2) the individual will have the power to decide when, how and in what order to do their work. Sure, every position (even from home) will have its boundaries, but working from home usually allows for more freedom because the employee isn’t constantly under watch.
Having a flexible position is extremely important to most workers. Who wouldn’t want to start work at 10am and be done before 5pm with multiple breaks in between? Most work-from-home jobs offer flexibility with employers allowing the workers to make their own schedules as long as the work is completed. It’s a great feeling to not have to always adhere to a specific schedule, especially if the schedule restricts your other activities. Flexibility can also be a con because workers must ensure they do not become too accustomed to not having a set schedule that they don’t set aside the necessary time to complete their work.
This is probably one of the greatest benefits of working from home. Instead of putting on a suit and tie every day you can go to work in your pajamas. On your lunch break you can head to the gym or truly enjoy a nice lunch with friends without having to worry about being back in the office on time. You can attend team meetings without having to sit in a cold and bleak conference room. And best of all, as long as you have internet access, you can do your job from anywhere! How much more exciting would it be to swap the same small cubicle for a different workspace every week as you go from coffee shops to book stores to the beach? Well, maybe not there, but your “office” can be wherever you want to make it, which is very convenient.
Although working from home can seem like an ideal situation, it has its downfalls and being alone is one of them. When working from home, especially for an online company, you may not ever have to physically be around your boss and colleagues. Meetings, projects, emails and Skype will provide your day-to-day activities and if you live alone, you could possibly never physically interact with others.
A remote position is especially difficult if you’ve just moved to a new city and are looking to meet people. The absence of the office can often make it that much more difficult to have a social life. Also, not having the physical experience of being in an office and working directly with a team may hinder you from developing professionally. No one enjoys office conflicts, but when they happen they provide lessons on communication and teach you how to interact with others. Working alone may not afford that opportunity for growth.
With a remote and/or telecommuting job your communication with your manager and fellow co-workers will be restricted to the phone, emails and other forms of technology. This can sometimes mean delayed responses as you wait to hear back from someone. You don’t have the ability to simply walk into his or her office to talk and get an immediate response. This can also cause miscommunication because many times it’s difficult to interpret how a person is saying something through technology. You may read an email one way when your manager wrote it in a completely different way.
You may be wondering how technology is a con of working from home when it is the very thing that allows so many to do it. Well, that is exactly the point. Remote positions are completely dependent upon technology. If your laptop suddenly dies, you can spend all day trying to get it fixed or buy a new one and this can result in a loss of productivity for the company. Conference calls get dropped, content management systems freeze and viruses attack causing you to lose all your files. At some point or another, technology always fails. Although all these things can happen when working in the office as well, it’s often more detrimental for the remote worker.