With the trend showing an increase in remote work, what are the pros and cons and what does it take to make it work for you?
Remote working is very much on the rise in Europe, largely driven by advances in networking technology, a startup boom across the continent, and gradually changing attitudes toward flexible working practices. The percentage of employed persons in the EU who sometimes work from home has increased steadily over the years, from 7.7% in 2008 to 9.6% in 2017 (Source: eurostat).
Companies across Europe are increasingly offering their employees the option to work remotely, not only because it’s been shown to improve staff morale and productivity, but also to attract and retain the best new talent.
The fast-growing Generation Z workforce—digital natives who didn’t just grow up with the internet, but were born into the connected world—has evolved demands around work-life balance. To them, the idea of commuting to and from the same central office every day is beginning to look a little antiquated. For many, job flexibility is even more important than salary.
Advantages and disadvantages of working remotely
Reports show that employees who work remotely at least once a month are actually 24% happier than those who never work remotely (Source: The Owl Labs). One of the reasons for that is that as a remote worker, you are more in control of your own work life. Since you are essentially in charge of filling your own workday, you need to be more self-motivated and organized.
As a remote worker, you can decide your own work times. Of course you usually need to be available during normal working hours, but with a flexible work schedule, you can also get your work done in the evening or at weekends, if that’s more convenient.
Working from home avoids the need to commute to and from work, often freeing up at least one hour every day. You think less about how you look and dressand more about being comfortable and productive. Being in your own space has the potential to make you feel more relaxed, saving energy and making you feel less tired at the end of the day.
When working remotely, many find there to be fewer distractions, enabling more productivity and increased job satisfaction.
Although you may have online meetings and calls, you miss out on the spontaneous conversations that happens at an office.
- Getting out less
As a remote worker, you may find yourself with much more time at home. Sometimes it’s nice to be in a different environment, like a coworking space or coffee shop.
- Feeling left out
When attending online meetings, you may not understand certain projects or jokes made in the office since you’re missing context, which can sometimes make you feel more isolated.
10 tips on how to be a happy and successful remote worker
- Prioritize purpose in your work
When working remotely, it is even more important to derive meaning from your job since you’re missing the camaraderie and personal contact that can give you purpose.
- Have a routine, but be flexible
Without the built-in discipline and natural breaks of an office, things can easily fall apart. It’s up to you to build the best way for yourself to work remotely. Try different ways of working, different break times, and working from different places to learn what’s best for you.
- Prioritize documentation and clear communication
Remote work requires purposeful and planned communication. Otherwise things can get misunderstood, or never communicated in the first place. Make sure to document more than you would normally to make sure that everyone is on the same page.
- Have regularly scheduled online meetings
If you’re working on a project with other team members, it’s important to have regularly scheduled meetings. This creates opportunities to talk with team members about items that otherwise wouldn’t come up. Use video conferencing to connect with the team and keep you on good behavior and paying attention.
- Make yourself visible at work
A simplebut highly effective way to stay visible is to let people know what you’re working on. Being responsive as quickly as you can is another form of visibility. That’s not to say you should constantly be available at all hours and be open to interruptions, but quick responses can help people see that you’re hard at work.
- Connect with your teammates
Even if you mostly work alone, feeling connected to the team will help you enjoy the work you do. Without connection to your team, you can begin to feel isolated, alone, even unhappy. The more you can learn about your teammates, the happier you’ll be that you’re working with them.
- Take regular breaks
Since you’ll likely have fewer distractions as a remote worker, you can end up sitting at your desk too long. Get up every hour, grab some fresh air, and set an alarm at the end of the day to avoid working too long.
- Create boundaries between work and life
As a remote worker you’ll need to create boundaries that help separate work from regular life. Or else, potentially pay the price of burn out, social isolation, even depression. Preferably this is a separate room, co-working space, or favorite coffee shop. Decide when you’re working, and stop once your day is done. Turn off your phone and computer work-related notifications in the evening and on weekends.
- Schedule time for socializing
Create a social agenda and time to connect with others. Whatever activities you choose, whether it’s time with friends, gym classes, meetups, coffees with people from your co-working space, make sure to actually do them. Put them into your schedule. Ask people to hang out. Ditch the slippers and force yourself to get out of the house.
- Focus on your health
If you let it, working from home can sap your energy. A routine can help you get into the groove of healthy activities. Make time for these activities, even if you take a break from the work day and finish working later. Stay hydrated and make sure to get up from the computer every so often. Practice healthy eating habits if you can. And don’t forget about your mental health too.