Pros and Cons of Working Remotely Full-Time

FT Contributor
A man working remotely at his laptop while sipping on a cup of coffee.
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As technology continues to make remote work a realistic option for many Americans, employers are beginning to realize that flexible schedules and work environments can increase employee happiness and productivity. In fact, studies show that 77% of employees are more productive when working from home. Remote workers are also less likely to take time off for illness-related reasons, and they enjoy the freedom and flexibility that comes from being able to work anywhere they want.

Some remote-friendly employers even offer their employees the opportunity to work exclusively from home, while still retaining the benefits of a full-time employee. Remote work is becoming a more and more popular option for teams across a variety of industries, from technology to marketing and everywhere in between.

What Does It Mean to Work Remotely?

Working remotely

 may vary depending on the specific employee and employer in question. Although the stereotype may be that remote workers can lounge around in their pajamas all day, remote work doesn’t necessarily have to mean working from home. In most cases, when employers allow you to work remotely, this means that you can work from anywhere that has a reliable internet connection, whether that means a coffee shop, coworking space, or the comfort of your own bed.

Because of the freedom and flexibility involved in remote work, this also means that those who work remotely aren’t tied to a fixed location, and may move from one place to another with relative ease. This has given rise to the phenomenon of the “digital nomad,” who can travel the world while still putting in the work at a remote-friendly job.

Pros of Working Remotely

There are many benefits to working remotely, including less time spent commuting, savings on gas and mileage, improved employee retention, ability to stay home with family, and more.

Benefits for Employers

There are a variety of benefits to employers when it comes to allowing employees to work remotely.

  • Improved employee retention — Employees granted the freedom and flexibility to work remotely are more likely to stay with the same company for a longer period of time. This means less employee turnover and less time spent training new employees.
  • Greater productivity — Employees report that they’re more productive when they’re allowed to work remotely, with less time wasted on workplace distractions and more time spent actually working.
  • Reduced interpersonal conflict — While it can sometimes be difficult to convey tone over an email or a text, working remotely can actually help to reduce workplace conflict and solidify employee bonds. Remote work allows individuals to easily deescalate conflict, and technologies like Slack make keeping in touch easy even across vast distances.
  • More transparency — When it comes to a physical office space, it’s sometimes difficult to track just how much work employees are completing. Remote work allows for greater transparency by ensuring that employees are judged based on results.
  • Reduced need for physical office space — Rent can be expensive, especially if you need a lot of office space to accommodate dozens of employees. Establishing a remote team helps cut costs by eliminating the need for a physical office.

Benefits for Employees

Employees also reap many benefits from remote work.

  • Customizable office — Goodbye, cubicle. When you work remotely, you get to decide what your office looks like, whether that’s a meticulously organized home office, a comfy coworking space, or a bustling coffee shop. You get to choose the environment that suits you best!
  • Greater freedom — Remote work allows you greater freedom in your day-to-day life. Want to move closer to family, or pack up and travel the world? Remote work expands the possibilities in terms of what you can do and where you can do it.
  • Flexible schedule — Working remotely is often accompanied by a more flexible schedule, where the work you do matters more than the hours that you keep. Do you have an afternoon dentist appointment, or a kid home sick from school? Working remotely ensures that you can get the work done anyway, and is especially convenient for employees with additional responsibilities, like single parents or part-time students.
  • Reduced commute — Depending on where you live, work, and the cost of living in your area, your daily commute can be time-consuming and expensive (not to mention bad for the environment.) Working remotely cuts down on your commute, or even eliminates it entirely.
  • Increased transparency — Remote work ensures that you’re judged on the quality of your work, rather than the hours you put in or the vagaries of office politics.

Cons of Working Remotely

While remote work does come with many benefits, there are a few common downsides. These include a lack of community and difficulties with communication.

  • Lack of community — One of the main downsides of remote work is the potential for there to be a lack of community. When you’re not seeing people face to face every day, it may mean there’s less cohesion between coworkers and less of a feeling of comradery in the company as a whole.
  • Difficulties with communication — Remote work can also make communication difficult at times. It’s hard to convey emotion and intent over text, especially across age and cultural barriers. Depending on your location, remote work might also result in a time delay that can further exacerbate communication difficulties.
  • Weaker relationships between coworkers — When working remotely, sometimes it’s difficult to form strong bonds with your coworkers, which can affect teamwork and productivity.
  • Difficulty establishing a routine — Despite its many benefits, working from home definitely isn’t for everyone, and requires a particular set of skills and tools. Some people find it difficult to establish a routine and motivate themselves to complete work outside of an office setting.
  • Only works for certain types of jobs — While some jobs are well-suited to being done remotely, other jobs just don’t work well with a remote setup.

Benefits for Remote Employees

The benefits that remote workers are eligible for vary from company to company. In some cases, remote workers are hired as independent contractors, and receive few, if any, benefits. In other cases, remote workers are hired as full-time employees, and receive standard benefits like health insurance and retirement plans.

Many remote-friendly companies often also offer additional perks, such as stipends for health and wellness, coworking spaces, and continued learning. Other benefits might include funds to establish a home office, flexible vacations, and paid time off.

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