Weighing the Pros & Cons of Working Remotely

Here are the facts: The corporate machine as we know it is grinding to a halt. Increasingly, employee satisfaction is tied to employee autonomy. While medical benefits still reign supreme, benefits like unlimited vacation time, personal days and remote workplace capability follow close behind. The work from home revolution is officially here, and we’re here to help. @@Switch has more than 1,000 remote positions@@ with many more that allows flexible scheduling. But what’s it like to have one of these jobs?

While working remotely brings to mind pajamas, a comfortable couch and a dose of serenity, the lifestyle is far more complicated than it might first seem. There are quite a few drawbacks to working where you eat, so to speak, and quite a few benefits that might not be so obvious at first. Read on for our detailed list of pros and cons of going remote.

Pro: Work never starts.

This is certainly one way of looking at it, but if you subscribe to this philosophy you may not be working from home at all. Still, many workers find the idea of setting their own schedules exhilarating, finally free from the alarm clock, a stress-inducing morning commute and pesky supervisors tracking your every movement. Different companies have different expectations about what they expect of a remote employee, but largely trust them to get the work done on their own, with far fewer interruptions than can be expected of a normal office employee.

Con: Work never stops.

While the crowded morning commute is certainly a source of anxiety for the office worker, the deep sigh of relief when 6:00 pm rolls around more than makes up for it. When you work from a home office, you can start when you want, take that siesta after lunch and eat into your DVR backlog, but the work still needs to get done. That can often mean eating your dinner at your desk and staying up late into the night finishing up, while your in-office cohorts enjoy their evenings. A way to avoid this is to treat working from home like work, at least in the hourly sense. @@Whenever your office shuts down, you shut down.@@ This will force you to get it done at a reasonable time.

Pro: No endless meetings in the conference room.

One of the biggest complaints of the office worker is being roped into hours-long team meetings to which he or she makes a minuscule contribution. The meetings equal serious lulls in worker productivity and eat up precious daylight hours. If you work remotely, it’s much easier to avoid these meetings or, when your presence is compulsory, to complete other work while Mark from marketing drones on about the latest SEO research. It's one reason why studies have shown remote workers are actually more productive than their in-office peers.

Con: Everyone has Skype.

And some bosses and colleagues just love to use it. If not Skype, it’s Slack or Gchat or Hangouts or text message. While none of these are completely seamless methods of communication -- many work-from-homers will tell you that workplace communication is easier to avoid on these platforms than you’d think -- they have made it harder to tune workplace matters out than ever. We live in a hyperconnected society, which is great when you want to have dinner delivered from your smartphone, but less great when your boss knows where to find you at any hour of day.

Pro: Your creativity is not discouraged.

For many office workers, @@the 9-to-5 can become a grind and the office can stifle creativity.@@ You get trapped in the throes of workplace politics or endless meetings and lose sight of the bigger picture, creatively speaking. Working from home, you are free to work at your own pace, meaning you can set aside a block of time and use it exclusively for innovation. You’re also free to take the dog for a walk or grab lunch with a friend, taking time away from the desk to job yourself into a more creative mindset.

Con: Your creativity is not nurtured.

Perhaps creativity is easier to come by at home, but the lack of an office environment can result in those innovative solutions falling on deaf ears. In the office, you have plenty of colleagues that you can bounce ideas off, refining them as you go before submitting them as suggestions to your boss. Whereas working remotely keeps you in sort of a creative echo chamber, the right kind of workplace can take your ideas and challenge, improve and implement them much sooner and more seamlessly.

Pro: More time for deeper analysis.

@@Office workers experience many emotions in a given day: joy, frustration, anger, disappointment, triumph.@@ Major projects require deep thinking and analysis. However, many offices prize speed and detachment over the kind of emotions and contemplation that can sometimes give way to the next great product or promotion plan. Many remote workers said a major benefit of their situation was the ability to take time to consider the question and craft a response. Even during a Slack or Skype conversation, remote workers can take their time in a way that overwhelmed office workers may not feel they can.

Con: Less spur-of-the-moment brilliance.

For all the office workers who complain about not being given time to think, the occasional award-winning plan is hatched out of the blue, when the chips are down and everything is on the line. This exhilarating feeling usually comes in collaboration with colleagues, something workers very much need an office in order facilitate. For all of the freedom and autonomy remote workers embrace, that triumphant sensation of being part of a team is one thing home offices cannot recreate.

Pro: More time to live your life.

Brunch on a Thursday morning? Good. Take a vacation? Great. Spend a few hours catching up on yard work on a Tuesday afternoon? Even better. @@As a remote worker, your chores and social life are not limited to nights and weekends.@@ This can be an incredibly empowering feeling for employees used to spending 50 or more hours a week at a desk. As long as you get the work done and check in with the boss regularly, you can travel, carouse and take care of non-business business at your convenience. Work from anywhere, anytime.

Con: Must deal with company and family expectations.

Unless you live alone, working from home can raise a whole new set of issues with your significant other, your children or pets. Even when you make work and home boundaries are made clear, it is still difficult for your work to be taken seriously. Despite remote employment becoming more frequent, there remains a separation for many between work life and home life. This could contribute to some fireworks with family, all while you continue to live up to the standards your supervisor has laid out.

In theory, removing the unwanted bookends from your professional life -- rush-hour commutes, Sundays spent dreading the week ahead, Friday nights on the couch after an exhausting week -- sounds like a great idea. The reality, though, is a lot thornier than it first appears. What’s next? Take our helpful quiz to determine whether you’re ready to make the switch.

More on working from home:

Six Great Companies that Promote Working from Home

Five Fun Jobs You Can Do Remotely