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Working from home used to be a privilege – allowing employees to have the flexibility that they often covet from their employers. But more recently, working from home has become the standard for at least 50% of the US workforce. For many organizations, it is considered to be more productive and cost-efficient than the traditional workplace.
Since 2005, the number of remote positions increased by at least 140% - not including self-employed workers – according to Global Workplace Analytics. By 2025, remote locations are predicted to rival traditional on-site locations because Millennials and Gen Z workers, who value flexibility, will dominate over 75% of the workforce. Working remotely isn’t just about working in bed or lounging on the couch in your pajamas. For many employees, it’s about having the freedom to skip their commute and work in their own environment - enabling them to be dynamic, comfortable, and efficient.
Working remotely isn’t necessarily for everyone. To flourish in an isolated workplace, it requires one to be self-driven with a strong work ethic and flexible interpersonal skills. If you’re considering working in the rapidly-growing virtual workforce, you must also ensure you evolve with it. If the next step in your career includes working remotely, these are the skills you’ll want to hone in order to thrive:
Self-reliant – Dependent on your own abilities and resources rather than those of others.
Disciplined – Able to control your way of working and staying focused on the goals at hand.
Organized – Able to efficiently keep your tasks in order and complete them in an orderly (and timely) fashion.
Goal-oriented – Driven by purpose.
Passionate – Having a strong sense of positive energy towards your job duties and responsibilities.
Resilient – Being able to withstand or recover quickly from difficult conditions, which can often occur when working virtually.
As impressive as working remotely sounds, there are some things you must consider before deciding if it’s right for you. The option of having a virtual workplace has many advantages, as well as disadvantages, you’ll want to take into consideration before committing.
The advantage of flexibility presented by working from home may present numerous other perks not initially considered. Without the requirement of working from a prescribed location each day, you may find you’re able to add more variation to your daily routine. This may be as simple as visiting your favorite coffee shop rather than sitting at your desk, or as exciting as travelling somewhere exotic, or even relocating to a new city. By incorporating out-of-office activities such as lunchtime workouts, or visits with friends and family, you may find there’s a significant upswing to your daily quality of life.
Imagine how much time you could save each year when you don’t have to get dressed and prepped for work every day. Think of how much money on transportation expenses you would save if you didn’t need to spend what seems like forever in traffic every day traveling to and from work. According to YouGov.com, over half of Americans spend between 11 and 30 minutes getting ready for work in the morning. That plus the average 52 minutes spent commuting to and from work adds up to a lot of time wasted. Wouldn’t it be great not to have to have to deal with that?
Location plays a huge factor when you are searching for a new job. As long as you have speedy Wi-Fi and a quiet place to lay your head, you could work from anywhere in the world as a remote employee. This gives you the choice to venture out and settle down in communities where you can save a lot of money. Glassdoor Inc. reports that locations like Thailand, Cambodia and Germany are all great examples of places that give you the freedom to work and live well below the cost of living in the US. Whether it’s living in the suburbs, a big city or even somewhere exotic like Vietnam, you can save thousands each year by not being bogged down with location restrictions.
If you are an introvert, then working from home would probably be great for you. As far as the individuals on the opposite side of the human personality trait scale, working from home can be lonely, sometimes resulting in depression. As humans, we are wired to maintain healthy personal relationships, have social interaction and face-to-face feedback at least once a day. Without daily interaction, our mental health and mood can take a negative turn and leave you vulnerable to depression, career burnout, and frustration.
In this world of technological advances, it’s easier than ever to connect, making it harder to disconnect. It’s easy to become a workaholic when your workspace is also your private living space. You may think that there is no harm in checking your email while eating dinner at night or quickly responding to an email while you’re supposed to be spending time with your family. Setting boundaries and sticking to them is an effective way to maintain a work-life balance and not become an overworked employee.
Trends come and go, but the trend of working remotely seems to be here to stay. And like most trends, they’re not always for everyone. Overall, how you will respond to working virtually depends on many factors: your living situation, your personality, your physical and mental health, your job responsibilities and your work ethic. With the benefits that working remotely could present, it’s no surprise that more and more people are considering it. Make sure you weigh all of the pros and cons before making this trend the next step in your career path.