Remote work is becoming more and more popular. In fact, some say remote workers just might be “the wave of the future.” And even though many companies employ remote workers today, does that mean all people will be remote workers at some point in the future?
It’s safe to say remote work will increase, but this wave won’t be for everyone.
The current status quo with remote workers
According to a survey, 34 percent of business leaders say more than 50 percent of their workforce will be remote workers by 2020. That’s just two years away.
However, if you ask Sara Sutton Fell, the CEO of FlexJobs, remote workers won’t replace all workers. Fell believes that “50% of the workforce will be working remotely half the time. I don’t think that 50% of the workforce will be working 100% remotely by 2020, or even 2030.”
Therefore, even though some companies run on only remote workers, that’s not the case for a lot of companies, and it may be a very long time before that ever happens.
But why this shift of remote work in the first place?
Millennials prefer remote work
Millennials love having flexibility. And there’s no better way to have a job and retain a fair degree of flexibility than with remote work. In fact, it’s not just a perk for many 30-year-olds.
Instead, it’s a prerequisite that’s going to make them join a company or not.
And the truth is, sometimes it doesn’t really make sense to spend all day in an office when you can do the exact same work from home.
Why do people want to be remote workers?
Along with flexibility, there are many appealing perks to remote work, and it’s no wonder that both companies and employees are leaning in this direction.
Here are six reasons why being a remote worker is not only more attractive but actually smarter.
Say goodbye to your commute
Most of us can’t walk or bike to work, but transportation is expensive. Just think about it: owning, insuring, maintaining and fueling a car, or paying for public transport adds up. What’s more, the time spent commuting eats away at potential work time.
With remote work, you can cut back on your commute to basically zero.
No more work-appropriate outfits
Now, there’s nothing wrong with dressing up and sporting a classy blazer and pair of heels. But remote workers get to enjoy a little more wardrobe freedom. And this can save money, time and stress. On the flip side, you get to be comfortable while you work.
If you’re not a remote worker, you probably have to show up at work and only work for a long block of time. This means, you have to get everything done before you work (who wants to get up that early?) or after you work (who has time for that?).
When you work remotely, you get to decide when, where and for how long you work. This frees up your schedule and can make life so much more convenient.
Remote workers can be more efficient and productive
A 2014 Chinese study found that when employees were allowed to work remotely, they actually completed an extra day’s work, compared to their in-office counterparts.
And over 10 years ago, Best Buy introduced something called 100% Flextime. This meant that all employees at their corporate office didn’t have any schedules or mandatory meetings.
Therefore, they could arrive at work whenever they wanted. And it was a smart move for the electronics retailer. Employee productivity went up 35 percent thanks to Flextime.
Of course, these employees still had to show up at the office, whereas remote workers don’t have to (at least some of the time). However, it’s clear that offering employees greater flexibility and personal freedom can boost productivity and efficiency.
Are office meetings over-valued?
Perhaps one of the fears holding people back from the remote workforce concept is the lack of meeting opportunities. However, if you check out this infographic, “The Ugly Truth about Meetings,” you’ll quickly see that meetings waste a lot of time and money.
Employees and managers spend a lot of time preparing, having and following up after meetings. In fact,15 percent of the organization’s collective time is spent on meetings. And when it comes to cost, $37 billion is spent annually on meetings.
With remote workers, office meetings are not as big of a problem.
Remote work is fiscally smart
Along with saving money on commuting costs, remote work also means companies can cut costs on rent, building maintenance and more. And if remote workers are more productive, the company can earn more money without spending so much on brick-and-mortar offices.
Drawbacks for remote workers
Like everything else, there are pros and cons, and it’s no different for a remote worker. And there are definitely some drawbacks for those people who clock in from home.
And some of these drawbacks may be what will prevent all work from becoming remote work in the future.
Not enough accountability and motivation
For some, working in solitude is their preferred modus operandi. But for others, it helps to have managers and colleagues physically present to hold you accountable and motivate you to complete your tasks.
If you’ve ever had a difficult co-worker, you can only imagine the bliss you experience by working remotely. No more drama and stress. But the flip side is that you essentially have no co-workers except for those you interact with online or over the phone.
This can lead to immense loneliness and isolation, and that’s not healthy for anyone, whether you’re introverted or not.
Little distinction between work and personal hours
The same flexibility that’s so coveted by millennials can also be a big pitfall for remote workers.
When you work from home, it might be more difficult to switch off, unplug and separate your work life from your personal life.
If you have the typical 9-to-5 office job, you can truly only do your laundry, dishes and vacuuming when you’re out of work. As a remote worker, you can do that anytime. You can also watch your favorite cat videos on YouTube ad nauseam.
And this is when productivity and efficiency go out the window.
It takes a lot of discipline to be a remote worker, and for some individuals, it’s just better to be at the office, rather than at home or sitting in a noisy cafe.
Remote work only works for some professions
We still need factories, grocery stores, shopping centers, hospitals, and public places. And people do need to man these places.
Therefore, even if remote work is the wave of the future, it will not sweep through every industry. That’s because all work simply can’t be done from the comfort of your home.
Will all work be remote work in the future? It seems that more and more companies will integrate this concept in the coming decades. But you can still expect people to work on location, too.