Growing opportunities to work remotely are leading many of us to consider when and how we want to work.
The many perceived benefits seem attractive, and yet there can also be difficulties in remaining connected to colleagues and finding the motivation to get work done.
So, how do you decide if working remotely is right for you?
In this article, we’ll explore the pros and cons of working remotely, highlight how software can support remote working, and offer some top tips should you feel that working remotely would suit you or your team.
How to define working remotely
Remote working is the practice of conducting work outside of a regular, fixed location such as an office. This might mean working from home, a shared drop-in office space, park, a coffee shop or anywhere else with an internet connection.
Who might work remotely?
While many may associate working remotely with small-business owners, freelancers, or a lone digital nomad, remote working is an option for many jobs.
There are, of course, some roles that can’t be remote.
Customer-facing roles — such as hairdressers, restaurant staff, and cashiers — and roles in hands-on production — such as factory workers — can’t be completed remotely.
But, for most other roles, full or part-time remote working may be a possibility, and the appetite to explore remote work opportunities is growing.
The impact of Covid-19 on remote work
The Covid-19 pandemic significantly accelerated the rate of remote working.
Before 2020, around 7% of U.S. workers regularly worked from home. During 2020, that number grew massively, with some companies and even whole sectors becoming almost completely remote.
In fact, a 2020 study found that 62% of Americans polled had worked from home during the pandemic.
However, not everyone found a remote working lifestyle suited them, with 41% saying they looked forward to returning to their permanent places of work.
What are the benefits and challenges of working remotely?
There are both benefits and challenges to working remotely, including impacts on productivity, engagement, and mental health.
Let’s explore them in more detail.
Some remote workers enjoy the ability to work when and where they want. They enjoy choosing an environment to work in that suits them and allows them to be their most productive.
Office environments can be distracting, with people moving in and out of meetings, popping over to ask a question, or inviting you to have lunch.
Depending on the role, remote employees may also be able to work the hours they want. This is helpful for those who would prefer — or need — to work earlier or later hours.
On the flip side, some people are energized by the office environment, enjoy working face to face with colleagues to solve problems, and relish the social element of work.
Perhaps they need to collaborate with others to get their creative juices flowing and can easily zone out distractions when required.
For businesses, providing the option of remote working enables each employee to make the choice that suits them best.
This increases the likelihood of high levels of productivity as employees can work according to their preferences. Employees who felt their employer supported them in a flexible approach to work were 86% more productive.
Of course, remote workers can only be productive if they have the right technology to support them.
This includes both the hardware and software — including task management and collaboration tools — to get work done effectively. 2 out of 5 employees working remotely during the Covid-19 pandemic said knowledge sharing had become more challenging.
Finally, when businesses are considering their remote working policy, they should think about geographic location. Productivity can be hampered if remote workers have no fixed hours and are geographically dispersed.
If you have a question for a colleague and you can’t get an answer for 12 hours because they’re on the other side of the world, it can have a significant impact on work output.
Employees who are empowered to make choices are also more engaged.Businesses that are proactive in enabling employees to choose a way of working that suits them can expect increased productivity, increased loyalty, and better mental health in their employees.
It’s good for business too. By providing remote opportunities, companies expand their potential talent pool exponentially. They’re no longer restricted to job seekers who are either local or willing to relocate.
Building flexibility into your work life can have significant mental benefits.
Employees who can work to a flexible schedule are 57% more resilient, which is crucial during challenging times. In fact, the most resilient employees were found to be nearly 20% less stressed.
This may be because controlling how and when you work intrinsically feels empowering, or there may be more practical reasons. Employees can work when they feel most alert and fit self-care activities — such as hobbies and exercise — around the requirements of their job.
For employees with caring responsibilities such as children, a more flexible approach to work can be a lifeline. It allows them to organize work around the needs of loved ones, decreasing stress and worry.
But it’s important not to view remote working as a synonym for flexible working. Remote working is only about where you work. To truly enjoy the benefits of working more flexibly, employees need to be able to decide when they work too.
Mental health was of great concern for employees during the Covid-19 pandemic, second only to financial worries.
A recent study found that the average workday for those working remotely had increased by 49 minutes over the last year. This was partly due to an increase in emails being sent outside of working hours.
The ability to shut off from work while working remotely can be a real challenge for some people, encroaching into family, relaxing, or social time.
And it can be lonely. 21% of remote workers said “loneliness” was their biggest challenge while working outside an office environment.
Humans are, by nature, social creatures, so — if you’re missing connection — make sure you use the extra flexibility of remote work to add in social activities, hobbies, or time with friends and family.
If you work from home, but you’re still close to the office, consider attending team meetings face to face. And go along to social events such as birthdays and holiday parties.
So, should I work remotely?
Ultimately, the decision as to whether you should work remotely is a personal one. It needs to be taken in conjunction with your line manager so they can balance both your needs and the needs of the wider business.
Remember, it’s not a decision that needs to be set in stone. If you’re curious about remote working, ask for a trial period so you can see if it suits you.
How can software support remote working?
If you do feel that working remotely is a good fit for you or your team, you’ll be glad to know that there’s software out there that makes the transition much more straightforward.
We may be a little biased, but we believe monday.com has all you need to support a shift to remote working.
What exactly is monday.com?
monday.com is a fully customizable Work Operating System (OS) that provides all the building blocks you need to get work done the way you want.
Over 100,000 other individuals and teams use our platform to plan, organize, monitor, and review their work.
- Over 200 easy-to-use templates to get you started
- 8 different ways to view your data
- Powerful in-platform collaboration tools
- 40+ integrations that allow whatever you’re currently using to blend seamlessly into monday.com
- An intuitive, easy-to-use platform
Let’s have a look in more detail at some key features that support successful remote working.
Collaborating with others
We’ve just seen how important it is to stay connected when working remotely. Collaborating with others is easy with monday.com.
You can use the in-platform communication tool or take advantage of integrations with tools you already use, such as Slack and Zoom.
Plus, because monday.com stores conversation history in the platform, it’s easy to track what was agreed upon and view decisions within a broader context.
If you’re not all gathered around a table at the weekly team meeting, it can be a bit more complicated to assign, organize, and track work among employees.
It might take a bit of back-and-forth until it’s clear who’s responsible for each task and what exactly it is that needs doing.
A centralized dashboard that maintains information on who’s doing what by when — and that updates in real-time — can help ease the burden.
Individuals can filter dashboards to focus on work assigned to them, update task status, add notes, and @tag others in for their input.
Managers looking after a remote team can keep an eye on progress through a range of reporting dashboards.
And the monday.com platform is accessible 24/7 no matter where you’re working. Whether you’re at home at your desk or using our mobile app, it’s easy to stay in touch.
Whether you’re office-based or working remotely, it can be tough to maintain motivation for work 100% of the time.
It’s easier to stay motivated when you feel the work you’re doing is purposeful. So, make sure any repetitive, administrative work is minimized so you can concentrate on what matters most.
monday.com makes that simple with easy-to-set-up automation recipes.
Just tell the system what you want to happen when a specific prompt comes in, and that’s one less thing on your to-do list.
Top tips for working remotely
Here are our 5 top tips for becoming a successful remote worker:
1. Build a routine
Creating a weekly routine that suits you can really help with effective remote working.
One of the main benefits of flexible working is building a schedule that suits your work preferences and your other commitments.
However, without any kind of structure, it can be hard to find the motivation to work, and you can end up working more hours than you would within a more traditional 9-5.
This is especially important for freelancers and business owners. The temptation to answer ‘just one more email’ encroaches on key self-care activities like exercise, hobbies, and socializing and can lead to burnout.
2. Use a trigger
There are days when just getting started on a task feels like pulling teeth. And, when you’re surrounded by the distractions of your home, it’s easy to put off getting anything done.
Using triggers can help switch your brain into work mode, making getting started that much easier.
If you like tea or coffee, have a ‘work mug’ and brew up your favorite drink before settling down at your desk. Or, if you enjoy working with background noise, create a work playlist or put the radio on at the same time each day.
Your brain learns to recognize these triggers as a sign that it’s time to work, and it can make the transition easier.
3. Create a dedicated workspace
Dedicating a space for work can also act as a trigger to get started. By claiming a workspace, either in your house or elsewhere, you can also create the environment you prefer to work in.
If you need a clear and organized space to work, make sure that other distractions are kept tidied away and that you have everything you need to get work done close at hand. Use drawers, trays, and folders to keep work organized.
If you’re happier in a messier, cluttered space that fires your creativity, then make sure you dedicate an area that doesn’t need to be cleared at the end of every day, like a dining table. Pin up pictures or inspirational quotes if that helps to motivate you.
With the monday.com ‘Quote of the Day’ widget, you can even receive a daily inspirational quote every time you log in to your workspace!
4. Stay connected
One of the main challenges while working from home is missing the social environment workplaces often provide.
41% of remote workers miss office jokes and light-hearted conversations, and 40% of employees who had to work from home due to Covid-19 missed their colleagues.
So, make it a point to check in with others on your team regularly. If they’re also remote, they might welcome the connection. Seek opportunities to collaborate on tasks together, so you’re not going solo the whole time.
And make sure you speak up if you’re struggling.
It’s in a business’s interests to care about the mental health of its employees, and they’re putting a lot of thought into how they support their remote workers.
5. Remember your why
Remember why you wanted to work remotely in the first place. Maybe you longed for flexible working hours or dreamed of working from the beach.
If the reality is that you’re working longer to meet the added distractions of home, or your laptop broke when it got filled with sand, it’s okay to decide you’d rather head back to the familiarity of your office computer.
If remote working isn’t bringing the expected benefits, speak to your manager about returning to the workplace either full or part-time.
There might be other ways to bring more flexibility to how you work, such as compressed working hours or buying extra vacation days to enable an escape to the beach.
Choose to work remotely if it suits your needs
In this article, we’ve discussed how the Covid-19 pandemic has increased opportunities for employees to work remotely. Changing technologies that are well suited to support remote working have made this possible.
There are both benefits and challenges to remote working, and it’s not for everyone.
You should choose to explore the option of remote working if you think it will suit your needs and the needs of your company.
If you do want to give remote working a go, follow our top tips above.
And remember, we’re here to help. monday.com can help keep you organized, connected, and motivated to get work done. Why not get started organizing your work today?