If you are one of the 45 percent of American full-time workers who were still working remotely in late 2021 due to the pandemic, you might also be among the 54 percent of those remote workers who say they'd like to keep it that way.
Remote work and its pros and cons have been hot topics among human resource professionals, business analysts, economists, government agencies, business consultants and, of course, remote employees.
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In the big picture of your career path, will staying in a remote job affect your future career growth? Or has remote work proven to be a valuable part of company culture and company success in the mainstream?
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Pros of Remote Work
There are advantages of remote work both for you and your employer. Workers who prefer remote or hybrid work commonly cite several benefits:
- Work-life balance
- Flexible work schedule
- Less commuting time
- More productive work hours
- Better focus
- Fewer meetings
- Less stress
This isn't just theory. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported a 4.5 percent higher labor productivity index in the fourth quarter of 2021 than in the fourth quarter of 2019 – higher than the 1.4-percent average annual growth rate from 2007 to 2019. All while 45 percent of full-time workers were working from home.
For employers, increased worker satisfaction decreases turnover and increases employee loyalty. With collaboration and videoconferencing platforms like Zoom, Slack, Microsoft Teams and other HQ-to-home office tools, employees can work together in real-time and not feel like they are missing out on face time with co-workers.
As employers iron out their long-term plans for telecommuting and remote work, they may start to see other savings as well. As on-site workspaces become less needed, companies can save on real estate and additional overhead costs. Remote companies can also draw from a wider talent pool when the workplace is equipped to successfully onboard and support remote employees.
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Cons of Remote Work
Remote working advantages kick in when telecommuting is a valued part of the business. Workers and employers need to be mindful of respecting boundaries, maintaining the human connection and keeping communication skills sharp.
The pros of remote work can quickly become cons if boundaries aren't respected. Work-life balance can degrade, productivity can decrease and stress can kick up.
For companies, embracing remote work as part of company culture requires rethinking the workplace and management skills.
According to McKinsey & Company, "avoiding the pitfalls of remote working requires thinking carefully about leadership and management in a hybrid virtual world."
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With collaboration and videoconferencing platforms like Zoom, Slack, Microsoft Teams and other HQ-to-home office tools, employees can work together in real-time and not feel like they are missing out on face time with co-workers.
Getting Ahead as a Remote Worker
Remote work isn't just for introverts. Freelancers, office workers, designers, engineers and tech company staff are just a few roles that function efficiently from a home office or hybrid work environment. Just look at the increased number of remote opportunities on LinkedIn's job boards. They increased by a whopping 357 percent in 2021.
As the number of industries expands and more remote companies emerge, there is no reason for remote work to affect your career development negatively.
While "out of sight, out of mind" is an adage many remote workers may fear, you don't have to be either of those things. Don't let your engagement with the job stop at video calls. Harvard Business Review recommends staying connected, making sure your work is visible, getting involved in your organization, contributing, making improvements, preparing for meetings and soliciting feedback.
In other words, do everything a solid employee does on-site. Be engaged, show leadership potential, be collaborative and take initiative. As a remote worker, you also have the opportunity to show your flexibility and your ability to pivot, learn and adapt.
Think about planning your career development with a career coach or mentor. Prepare, plan and advocate for yourself whether you are entering the job search post-remote or bolstering yourself for a new remote job in your current company.
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- Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM): Will Working Remotely Hurt My Career Growth?
- BBC: Why In-Person Workers May Be More Likely to Be Promoted
- TIME: Research Shows Working From Home Doesn’t Work. Here’s How Employers Should Tackle the Problem
- Mental Health America: The Mental Health Benefits of Remote Work
- University of Illinois: Staying Engaged and Energized While Remote Working
- Harvard Business Review: Don't Let WFT Get in the Way of Your Next Promotion
- Pew Research Center: How Coronavirus Outbreak Has and Hasn't Changed the Way Americans Work
- McKinsey & Company: Reimagining the Postpandemic Workforce