Working remotely can give you more time to spend on your personal life, but a new report suggests that the popular employment model can cause health problems. Working remotely pros and cons often highlight the benefits of ditching the commute and the corporate office environment for the home office and a flexible schedule. Such benefits often fail to counterbalance the longer hours that telecommuters invest in their work.
A study published by the UN’s International Labor Organization reveals that humans face problems while working remotely, despite the technological advances that make telecommuting possible and profitable for businesses and workers. The UN study gathered data from fifteen nations and concluded that higher levels of productivity come at a high cost to remote workers. Aside from longer work days, remote employees and freelancers experience more intensity as they work and also face conflicts between their work and personal responsibilities.
What does it mean when a job is remote?
A remote job is one that supplies compensation in exchange for services without requiring the worker to report to a traditional work environment such as company headquarters.
What is remote working?
Remote working occurs when you perform tasks from home or some other alternative work environment. Thanks to technology, home-based workers can answer telephones and participate in video conferences while performing other job functions such as programming, managing networks, creating documents, responding to correspondence, and managing teams.
What is the meaning of remote location?
A remote location refers to any place where you work that is not in your employer’s facilities. A remote location, therefore, can include any of the following places.
- A home office.
- A client or customer’s facility.
- Remote work centers.
- Hotels and resorts, while you are either on vacation or traveling for work.
- Suppliers’ facilities.
- Coffee shops such as Starbucks.
- A library.
- Your car, SUV or minivan.
Wherever you have internet access and perform job-related functions is a remote location.
More about the UN study
Researchers compared traditional employees to two emerging classes of workers:
- Mobile workers who move among numerous locations as they work.
- Workers who divide their work time between an office and one remote location.
- Employees and contractors who work from a home office.
Each of the above groups exhibited stress levels in excess of those experienced by traditional employees who work in their employer’s office. More than 40 percent of high-mobility workers, for example, reported stress compared to only one-quarter of their corporate-office-bound peers. A similar percentage of mobile workers deal with insomnia, compared to less than one-third of their counterparts who work in company facilities.
One of the contributing factors that cause the unhealthy conditions is the erosion of boundaries between work and household space and time.
Benefits of working remotely
Companies benefit from employees who work remotely because they can operate using less floor space and reduce operating overhead. Reduced utility bills and rent or lease payments directly contribute to a firm’s bottom line. Also, businesses that utilize remote workers gain “green” credentials that can help them qualify for tax breaks and win the hearts of their community. Home-based workers often work for less average hourly pay and benefits, helping to reduce the cost of human resources.
People enjoy benefits of working remotely that include:
- Reduced fuel and vehicle costs.
- Reclaim time spent in traffic for personal use.
- Flexible scheduling.
- Improved home and neighborhood security.
Disadvantages of working remotely
While working remotely from home, people can suffer from the social isolation that results from being unable to interact with peers during the day. Other disadvantages can include:
- Interruptions from household members, relatives, and friends.
- Difficulty focusing on tasks.
- Bypassed for promotion.
- Communication barriers.
- Lack of cooperation from office-based peers.
- Managers and supervisors fear losing control over remote workers.
Tips for working remotely
You can improve the results you get from telecommuting by implementing some sensible tips. One of the most effective ways to combat the stress, insomnia, and other common remote-worker problems is to work from home two or three days per week and work at the office for the rest of the work week. The increased social interaction from such an arrangement can lessen the negative effects of isolation.
Exercising your socalled “right to be disconnected” can also improve your remote-working experience. By turning off your phone at the end of the work day and refusing to check your email and voicemail messages after hours, you can create clear boundaries between your professional and personal life.
What companies hire remote workers?
Telecommuting first became popular among IT professionals and data entry clerks. Such jobs were easily enabled by early remote technologies because remote data entry jobs and remote IT jobs did not require sophisticated project management and video communications tools. Nowadays, however, any company that has office-based jobs available can hire remote workers. Of course, some jobs that require intense supervision, high security or specialized equipment can only be performed on-site.
Remotely working is becoming the standard for modern employment. Although you can benefit from an improved work-life balance and enjoy flexibility and autonomy as you work, remember the results of the UN study. Simple steps such as commuting a couple days every week, focusing on your relationships with family members and friends, and setting clear boundaries can reduce the amount of stress that you experience and help you get a good night’s sleep.
Bruce Tyson helps employers adopt remote working policies and assists employees as they make the transition from their employer’s offices to a home-office environment. Contact us to learn more about our available services by sending an email message to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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