Last week, I got a chance to work remotely for an entire week. Neither was I sent on a some business trip and nor was I on vacation. I had a minor accident and had to rest for a week. But though it was not for a good reason, I absolutely loved working from home. I was really productive and the best part of it is, at the end of the day, I did not feel drained of energy with an urge to just jump into my bed. Let me tell you why.
Remote is the future
This is a topic that has been debated long enough. Some companies let their employees work remote while the others make it mandatory for employees to come to office. Basecamp is company that famously advocates the idea of remote work whereas companies like Yahoo had problem with employees working from home. But for numerous reasons, remote work is here to stay. Technology has advanced enough for a company to have it’s employees completely remote working from their home offices in different cities, countries or continents.
There are various reasons that remote working is here to stay and in coming years will be more and more popular. I can think of few reasons based on my experience.
It’s your home
Do I need to elaborate on this? Everyone in their right mind will love to be at home. The familiarity and the comfort of the home cannot be taken away by any office, no matter how much you love your workplace. You need not even dress up and start working in your t-shirts and shorts. At home you have the control over your circumstances and you are seldom in a situation where you end up in situation from which it is difficult to get out of.
Being at home also lets you relax and rest whenever you need it. More work happens when you take breaks in between and recharge yourself. This lets you to have more focused work to be done with intervals of rest in between. Being in office, you always are at somebody’s mercy. Words like urgent, asap, overdue are few of them that take your focus away and make you shift from one task to another.
Working from home also lets you have personal time. It might be to go to the bank on a weekday or to tend to your garden or pet. This takes off the stress of continuous work and eliminates the work fatigue. Everything you need is within your reach and you need not waste half an hour to get a drink from your office cafeteria, just walk up to your fridge and you have it at your disposal.
Spending time with family takes a hit when you are working five days a week. But when you are working from home, you get to spend good amount of time to spend with your family. This might have some side effects, but family is important. Whatever you might say, home is home.
This one is my favourite. I absolutely hate commuting to office. The traffic, the pollution and the weather, everything makes it such a dreadful experience. Before I moved my house near to office, it used to take me an hour and half to reach office. It was a tiring commute. By the time I reach office I was completely drained and had no energy left. In a twenty four hour day, I was spending three hours traveling to and from office. That is 12.5% of you time. Thats 60 hours a month! That’s more than a week’s worth of working hours! Not only does it take three hours everyday, it renders the hours I spend after coming back home to be completely devoid of energy to be really able to enjoy the time at home in the evenings. Even now staying closer, I end up spending an hour and half everyday commuting.
The time I spend traveling could easily be spent on something more productive. It makes no difference if I go in car or bike, I am exhausted all the same. But in the past week, staying at home, I was energetic throughout the day since all I had to do was to get off my bed, get freshed up and takes few steps to my workstation at home. Evening, once I was done, just move back to my living room, chill out for a bit and go back to sleep. I wish I could do this all through my life!
Tech is here
Few years back, the concept of remote work wouldn’t have worked out that well simply because the technology wasn’t there. In the age of paper files and snail mail, this would’ve been an impossible feat. But now that we are in 21st century where all the technology is available to us to be as connected as being in the next cubicle with a person.
The previous generation finds it difficult to comprehend the idea of remote work because they are used to the closed office cubicles with all employees in one office building. Those days to get work done, you had to be in the same location as the team that you are working with. From 9 to 5, you just did your job and came back home. Nothing after that. But in the present day we have tools that help us share data, communicate etc. Microsoft Lync, Skype or Google hangouts can be used to have a business meeting, Basecamp, Asaana or Trello can be used for project management and Slack can be used for instant communication and file sharing. For collaborative work, tools like Github help employees to share and work.
So it is no more the time that communication required hours and days, you are now as connected with someone across the globe as you are with someone sitting in your own house. This perfectly fits in a remote working environment. All it requires is to learn the tools and use them as you find fitting and you are never away from your team ever. That to me is amazing!
Time and place
Today, most of the companies are spread across different geographies. Gone are the days when employees were restricted to a city or a place. Now there is no distinction between time zones or city and countryside. With remote work, you get to choose where to work from.
I was able to take care of my duties last week sitting in my chair at my home because of internet. If I was somewhere in a village in Kerala with good internet connectivity, I could’ve been as productive as I was. Even working across different timezones are not an issue if planned properly.
Working remotely immensely reduces the need for bigger infrastructure. Companies can save a large amount of money without any dedicated office infrastructure. A fraction of that can be spent in getting tools that will help in being connected without boundaries.
For the employees, they don’t necessarily have to move to cities and end up paying more for housing and commuting. Rather they can stay back in the countryside and enjoy all the benefits. There is a misconception that work can happen only in cities. With a laptop and internet, you can be as connected and be active in community as anyone.
All this being said, remote working has it’s own demerits. Things like connecting with your colleagues over a lunch or at water-cooler will never happen. But all things considered, the advantages outweigh the disadvantages at any point. I see the future will be remote work, someday all companies will realise the merits and implement it. At least most of them.