Remote Work has become increasingly common over the past few years. With advancements in technology enabling employees to work from anywhere, more companies are offering remote work options. While remote work certainly has its benefits, there are also some potential drawbacks to consider. This beginner’s guide examines the key advantages and disadvantages of remote work, supported by statistics and research.
Advantages of Remote Work
Working remotely offers many potential benefits for both employees and employers. Here are some of the main advantages of remote work.
One major advantage of work is the level of flexibility it provides. Individuals who work often have the freedom to determine their schedules and work during hours that are both convenient and productive, for them.
According to a survey by Buffer, 98% of remote workers reported having increased flexibility and freedom in their schedules. This flexibility allows employees to more easily balance work and personal responsibilities.
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Improved Work-Life Balance
Thanks, to the added flexibility it offers remote work can also have an impact, on employees work life balance. By eliminating the need to commute to an office daily remote workers can steer clear of rush hour traffic. Enjoy time for personal activities.
A study by the University of Cambridge found that remote workers spend 72% less time commuting, gain back 64 days per year from the eliminated commute, and use the extra time to spend more time with family, exercise, and sleep.
Less Distractions Remote Work
Working in an office environment can often come with many distractions – from coworkers stopping by to chat to loud colleagues on phone calls. Remote workers avoid these distractions by having control over their home work environment.
According to a survey from CoSo Cloud, 65% of remote workers reported being able to minimize distractions at home versus only 38% who said they can minimize distractions in an office setting.
With fewer distractions and disruptions, studies show that remote employees tend to be more productive than on-site workers. A Stanford study found a 13% increase in performance from remote workers, while another study found an astonishing 47% increase in productivity from telecommuters.
Allowing employees to work remotely results in tremendous cost savings for companies. Organizations can save on expenses like office space rentals, equipment, resources, and more.
An analysis by Global Workplace Analytics found that businesses save an average of $11,000 per year for every person who works remotely half of the time.
Access to Global Talent
With remote work, companies are no longer limited to hiring talent that lives nearby. Remote work expands your access to qualified candidates around the world.
A survey from Buffer found that 98% of respondents believe that remote work enables more diversity in the workplace by allowing people from all backgrounds and locations to have flexible working opportunities.
Better Overall Health
While the mental health benefits of remote work like less stress and better work-life balance are clear, studies have also found positive physical health impacts. With no commute, remote workers tend to be more active during the day and eat healthier homemade meals versus dining out.
An analysis by Airtasker showed that remote workers are 20% more likely to exercise more than three times per week and eat healthier than on-site employees.
Disadvantages of Remote Work
Although remote work offers advantages it is important to acknowledge the potential downsides. Here are a few key disadvantages of working:
Lack of Face-to-Face Interaction
One of the biggest cons of remote work is the lack of in-person interactions. Some aspects of collaboration and bonding are lost without occasionally seeing coworkers face-to-face. Nonverbal cues and body language during conversations can also be missed remotely.
According to Zapier’s State of Remote Work report, 22% of remote workers reported feeling lonely while working remotely. Building relationships can be harder fully remote versus hybrid or in-office models.
Communication issues tend to be more common with remote teams. With employees working different hours and not seeing each other regularly, messages can be missed or misunderstood. It often takes more effort and intention to communicate clearly when working remotely.
A survey by Buffer found that 21% of remote workers listed communication as the biggest struggle they face. Setting clear guidelines for communication can help alleviate this disadvantage.
Lack of Separating Home and Work
Remote workers often cite having a hard time “switching off” from work when their office is at home. When work and personal time boundaries become blurred it can lead to employees working hours or feeling compelled to put in effort.
According to a study published in the National Bureau of Economic Research, remote workers tend to work 1.4 more days per month than on-site employees, equating to over two additional weeks of work per year.
Feelings of Isolation
Some remote employees report struggling with feelings of isolation when working alone for long periods. Lack of socializing and water cooler chats can take a toll on mental health and motivation.
A survey conducted by SHRM found that 23% of remote employees feel isolated and struggle to bond with coworkers. Companies should promote social opportunities to help avoid these feelings.
Lack of Access to Resources
Depending on the role, some remote workers may lack access to tools, specialized equipment, on-site resources, and technology available in a centralized office. This can hamper productivity and efficiency.
According to a study by Gartner, 80% of managers reported that employees lacked access to resources while working remotely during the pandemic. Companies should ensure remote staff has full access to all tools required.
While useful tools exist for remote collaboration, some in-person creative activities naturally work better. Remote workers report more challenges brainstorming together, working on projects in groups, and collaborating creatively.
A study published in Harvard Business Review found that in-person exchanges still beat digital tools when it comes to generating new ideas during creative collaboration and problem solving.
While less distraction from coworkers is a pro of remote work, employees face other types of distractions working from home. Spouses, children, pets, television, chores, and other household activities threaten productivity.
According to a survey by Robert Half, 49% of remote workers say managing distractions in a home office environment continues to be a challenge. Setting a dedicated workspace can help avoid disruptions.
Employees who work remotely face a disadvantage when it comes to being visible and recognized within the company. Out of sight can mean out of mind, making it harder to get noticed by leadership for raises and promotions.
A study by Wired found that 65% of remote workers felt concerns about being passed up for advancement and lacked face-time with leadership. Managers should connect frequently with remote team members.
Working remotely requires an adjustment phase. Employees need time to adapt communication styles, address technical issues, set up an optimal home office, learn self-discipline and more. Productivity levels can dip during this learning curve.
According to an analysis by Zapier, 77% of remote workers reported having to onboard and train themselves on remote work skills versus only 23% who said their company provided training. Proper training is key.
While remote work is on the rise and offers many advantages like increased flexibility and better work-life balance, some drawbacks exist as well. Communication and collaboration challenges, distractions at home, and feelings of isolation are common concerns. There is also a learning curve as workers adapt to be productive remotely.
With proper planning, management, and policies, organizations can maximize the benefits of remote work while mitigating the disadvantages. Overall, studies show that most remote employees are satisfied with remote work life and intend to continue working remotely as much as possible post-pandemic. Offering remote and hybrid options can improve worker satisfaction and retention.