Each place you work leaves its mark and shapes you in some way. Over the course of my career, I’ve worked in many different environments ranging from luxurious, top-flight corporate offices in the City of London, through to run down one room dog boxes, complete with a leaky roof!
Nice offices are a bonus, but as a rule, you really don’t worry too much about the trappings of your surroundings as long as you enjoy the work. The exceptions being when it is stinking hot, freezing cold or the water is dripping from the leaky roof onto your desk!
You remember different things about each place. For instance, at Lombard Odier, I learnt the meaning of absolute confidentiality. Working at St John Ambulance I discovered how to overcome my own personal feelings and just get on with the job at hand because people needed me.
In between places, there have been other lessons learnt. You continue to learn each and every day of your life when you are open to what is happening around you. Some things are easier to learn than others.
Certainly, keeping up with all the latest technology presents challenges to folks like me, but it also presents amazing opportunities. The workplace has changed enormously since the early day of my career. But the biggest change I’ve seen is in working remotely.
I remember when people had the odd day of working from home, but working remotely is a different kettle of fish. It’s definitely changed the workplace environment.
Working from remote and distant locations that are outside your traditional offices such as home, local coffee shop or even a hotel room is continuing to gain more and more traction thanks to the ever-expanding information technology capabilities. Don’t you just love wi-fi and smartphones? I do!
I love working remotely – so much so that it’s become the bulk of my business – and I really strive to master the technology that makes this possible for me.
There are heaps of benefits, but there’s also a downside. The pros and cons from my perspective are:
1. There is increased independence. If you’re working from remote and distant locations—away from the traditional office—you won’t be distracted by others and there is less chance of becoming involved in the usual office politics.
Lack of distractions should mean an increase in your productivity, but it’s easy to get sidetracked.
2. Increased flexibility. If you are a working-from-home parent, or a caregiver to someone ill or an aged parent, you can organize and schedule your commitments around family obligations.
I’m not saying it’s easy. It does require discipline, but it can definitely be achieved.
3. As an employer, you can have a pool of workforce talents from diverse geographical locations as opposed to conventional working.
I love working with my remote team of VA’s! With the time zone differences it means pretty much round the clock productivity and fast turnaround times for clients.
4. There is a massive increase in savings on several fronts.
– Travel costs, travel time, vehicle running costs and parking fees.
– Clothing and dry cleaning bills as you have a more informal dress code.
BTW – adopt a routine of getting dressed rather than sitting at your desk in your PJ’s all day! Make a point of getting up, showered and dressed every day that you are ‘working’. You don’t want to get caught short if you have to dash out or someone drops by!
– If you have a Virtual Assistant (VA), you only pay for the hours they actually worked. No issues with leave, superannuation, workers compensation and so on.
1. It’s not easy to develop a relationship with other team members. Not everyone thrives on working alone and some people actually need personal interaction with colleagues.
2. The technology may fail. A backup plan is essential! That means using regular, automated backup for all your work, and having a second device to access Skype, internet etc.
3. It can be challenging to provide oversight and give clear instructions to remote workers as there is no direct supervision. I use a handy little tool called “Snag It” when I need to send visual illustrations of what I need – it’s magic!
4. Family and friends need to be educated that you are ”at work” and cannot be disturbed just because you are at home.
The bottom line is that it very much depends on the individual, the business and the personalities involved.
Some of us thrive on remote work whilst others really struggle.
On a personal level, I thoroughly enjoy working remotely with my global team and the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages.
Strong self-discipline is an absolute must!
Of course, nothing can beat face to face contact. It’s important to make sure to schedule a regular get together with your team, and that you get out and about to network.
Michelle Hanton is a multi-award winning bespoke business strategist, working internationally as a consultant, coach, speaker and writer. She has a keen interest in the not-for-profit sector and is the former CEO of Lifeline Top End, and founder of Dragons Abreast Australia, a national charity dedicated to the promotion of breast cancer awareness.
A version of this article was originally published on Simple Team Meeting as Pros and Cons of Working Remotely