Slow and steady. That seems to be the mantra behind the gradual, creeper-like penetration of remote work into our lives. Though still in its early days, remote work has gained momentum in the last couple of years and its adoption is on the rise.
We have witnessed major cultural shifts in views about work and how we choose to work. Because more companies and people are embracing remote work, the traditional office setup is being challenged and replaced with newer ways of work, every single day.
Companies that hire remote workers and those who work remotely may seem to be the main beneficiaries, but remote work has also had an impact on some big problems for the masses.
Less commuting, less pollution, more savings
Telecommuting reduces the number of vehicles on the road, which, in turn, reduces congestion and pollution — both wins for the environment. And not commuting to work daily allows employees to save money and time, which reduces stress. People also tend to spend less on office attire because they don’t feel the need to look a certain way. The ability to work wherever they are most comfortable and productive nurtures happier employees.
Rather than being less productive, employees who work remotely are often more productive. Instead of clocking in a certain number of hours, they focus on accomplishments. Now that’s a win-win!
Social good and affordable real-estate
Companies that have pioneered remote work, like Buffer, Automattic, and GitLab, save big on physical infrastructure. With less overhead and more free time for employees, remote organizations, together with their workforces, have the ability and the resources to contribute more toward social good. Buffer’s volunteer program is a great example of this. In addition, remote work allows people to be in their communities more, including when help is needed.
As more and more people work remotely, this will have an effect on real-estate. What this will look like remains to be seen. Already, companies that hire remote employees have access to a global workforce, meaning they don’t have to depend on employees who live in or near extremely expensive cities. Will more people leave high-cost urban areas? Will more businesses? Perhaps one day office space supply will exceed demand, freeing up this real-estate for living spaces and making the current housing crisis a thing of the past.
A more fulfilling life and better well-being
In a relentless pursuit of productivity and career growth, we often miss out on life’s fleeting precious moments. Remote work contributes to a far better work-life balance and enables us to decide our work hours. People have more time to spend with those who matter, watch their kids grow, prioritize their health, pursue a hobby, or play with their pets. In short, people have more time to do what they want to do. This leads to fewer regrets and relationship problems as well as less depression and a more rewarding life.
The ability to be yourself
Probably the most cited benefits, but also the most valid ones, for remote work are the flexibility and freedom that accompany it — the freedom to travel the world and take work along wherever you go, the freedom to schedule work in a way that blends seamlessly with your other responsibilities, and the freedom to explore and experience the new.
If you are introverted, you can work on your own, without meeting and interacting with others regularly. Working outside of a traditional office environment also reduces the chances for harassment at the workplace and reduces opportunities for gossip. As a result of a distributed remote team, interactions between colleagues are fewer and farther between, but are also healthier and more meaningful.
Remote work allows individuals to be their best selves instead of what the system wants or dictates them to be.
After all is said and done, remote work comes with its own set of challenges. But with continuous effort by all stakeholders and support from governing bodies, remote work can evolve from a trend into the norm. If you have ideas on how remote work can solve even more problems, I’d love to hear from you. Connect with me on Twitter or drop me an email.