When I first realized I wanted to be a writer, something everyone seemed to tell me was that I could write from anywhere. If I wanted to travel, I could write in different cities. If I wanted to move across the country, or the world, I could write from there. I always thought this was wishful thinking. Only now, a year later, am I truly understanding that I can make this dream a reality.
I know I’m not alone in having the desire to travel, make money and be successful all at the same time. In fact, according to Inc, 82 percent of millennials say they would be more loyal to their employers if they had flexible work options. We’ve grown up around technology; why wouldn’t we rely on it to work remotely?
As a recent graduate of the Professional Writing and Communications post-graduate program at Humber College, I’m required to complete at least 400 hours at an internship placement within the professional writing or communications field. Funny enough, I scored two remote, part-time, placements in communications. During my time at both of these placements, I got an awesome taste of what it would be like to work remotely. From crafting social media calendars, writing blog posts, entering data, managing internal/external communications and attending virtual meetings, I didn’t ever have to be in a physical office.
My first placement didn’t have an office; everyone worked from home. My second placement had a head office about a half hour from my house, but my position was remote. I thought this was interesting because I had never been exposed to a remote working environment before. After conducting some research, I realized how common remote work is in 2018.
The potential for remote work is only just beginning
The reality is, remote work is the way of the future. The concept of working 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. is outdated by 200 years, says Forbes. Who’s to say you can’t work perfectly well at night as opposed to the morning? What’s wrong with starting your day at 11:00 a.m. instead of 9:00 a.m.? As long as you are able to complete quality work, collaborate when necessary and meet deadlines, it shouldn’t matter where you are nor what time you’re getting your work done.
According to Totaljobs, 28 percent of employees would move jobs if they were not allowed to work from home. Specifically, with millennials, there has been a huge shift towards prioritizing working remotely when looking for a new job. Businesses must appropriately tailor their remote working policy to attract top talent.
Not to mention the myriad of benefits that comes with workplace flexibility. Everyday expenses such as transportation and food can be almost completely eliminated. That’s less wear and tear on your car, less junk food intake on lunch breaks, and most importantly, less damage to your wallet. Yearly savings can range between $2000 to $7000, says Forbes, depending on how often you buy lunch and/or coffee and how far your commute is. However, time is money and the savings in time from remote work are phenomenal.
Take a doctor’s appointment as an example. You don’t need to stress about having to leave work in the middle of the day if you can only get an appointment at 11:00 a.m. on a Wednesday. As long as you don’t have an important meeting at that time, why not wake up a little earlier and use that time to make up for your appointment? Or, spend some time after dinner finishing up anything you weren’t able to because of that commitment.
In my opinion, the biggest benefit is to be able to wake up, turn the coffee maker and the laptop on, and start my day. No need to drive in awful, bumper-to-bumper morning traffic; no need to stress and count the minutes until you arrive at work; and no need to worry about whether you have time to brew a coffee in the morning or pick one up on the way. It also translates to more time I get to spend with friends and family, and for that, I am grateful.
According to Upwork, about 63 percent of companies today have remote workers and we are only going to see this number increase. Why? Simple. The benefits are endless for not only remote workers but also for employers.
Employer benefits of remote work
Offices can consider going virtual, or at least cut down the need for a large office space, which leads to thousands of dollars in savings. The benefits to the environment are even greater, as fewer employees need to commute to work every day.
“Companies that refuse to support a remote workforce risk losing their best people and turning away tomorrow’s top talent,” says Stephanie Kasriel, CEO of Upwork, and I couldn’t agree more. Why restrict your talent pool to strictly those who are within commuting distance from your organization?
Thanks to new and improved video conferencing solutions out there, employees can connect from all over the country or the world and still feel like they are in the same room as one another. Collaboration and productivity are made possible no matter where you are. There isn’t a need to have in-person meetings because video conferencing is more convenient and, arguably, more productive.
Research shows video calls lead to higher retention, better knowledge transfer and better collaboration. According to Human Productivity Lab, we remember only 20 percent of what we hear from an audio call but combined with video conferencing, knowledge transfer rates jump up to 70 percent. According to Dr. Albert Mehrabian, author of Silent Messages, 93 percent of communication is nonverbal, which consists of body language and tone of voice. From my experience using video conferencing, it really does create an authentic and transparent emotional connection between you and the person you’re talking to—even if you’ve never met before!
The only drawback to remote work…productivity!
How can you use your time wisely when there is no supervisor watching you? How can you get your work done when there is always a list of housework accumulating around you? It’s important to have time management skills and to give yourself regular breaks to maintain productivity.
If you are someone who needs to feel pressured to get things done, try going to a local coffee shop to get your work done. Perhaps the busyness of that environment may motivate you to be more productive.
Try getting dressed in the morning as if you are going to an office and sit in your designated home office space. It’s important to have a workspace so you know you need to be in “work mode” when you are sitting there.
I sometimes go for a short run during my workday. Whether it’s during the morning or afternoon, this is a great way to get some fresh air and increase your productivity, especially when the majority of your work involves staring at a computer screen. Whenever I feel myself getting a little stir-crazy, I go for a run and once I get back, I am rejuvenated and ready to tackle what I need to complete for the rest of the day.
Working remotely has heaps of benefits over drawbacks. There are so many technologies out there to make you feel like you are in the same room as another person that there isn’t a need to collaborate in a physical office, especially when you can collaborate just as well remotely.
Of course, remote work is not plausible for all industries; take the retail or service industry as an example. Typically, any position where you spend the majority of your time on your computer or in meetings, your job can be done remotely.
Productivity is critical to doing your job well, so experiment with a few tips and choose whichever method helps you to become the most productive.
Remember to get acquainted with this reality because remote work is only just beginning to become the new normal!
Carla Haddad is a content writer and recent graduate of the Professional Writing and Communications program at Humber College. She obtained her undergraduate degree from McMaster University in Justice, Political Philosophy and Law where she read voraciously within the field of philosophy. She will begin her master’s degree in Rhetoric and Communication Design in September where she will further study the art of language, philosophy, communication and persuasion. In her spare time, you can find her reading, writing, running or baking healthy, gluten-free snacks.