Obviously, the past few years have seen a massive shift in the way work happens. Thanks in no small part to COVID, of course. Businesses which relied entirely on an in-person workforce made necessary adjustments to keep employees safe. And in that process, many discovered different benefits of remote work they previously hadn’t understood. Now, nearly three years after the beginning of the pandemic, many organizations still allow work from home policies.
A survey conducted by McKinsey & Company found that thirty-five percent of respondents worked from home full-time. Additionally, another twenty-three percent could work from home at least one to four days every week. Only forty-one percent of those surveyed had no choice in the matter. Of course, some jobs simply cannot function well from home. So, not all workers can or even want to work remotely. However, over half of the American workforce has the ability to work from home in some capacity. That number is staggering, considering the nature of work over the past decades and centuries.
It’s worth noting that most American workers also don’t want to work from home full-time. In fact, over seventy percent would prefer a sort of hybrid model. Although office time can prove extremely helpful, the benefits of remote work are also clear. And while working from home can present difficulties to overcome and may not be for everyone, many can prosper if given the chance.
Benefits of Remote Work for Employees
Many benefits of remote work simultaneously better both the individual and the company at large. However, there are some which swing more in favor of one or the other. So, it’s worth categorizing the different aspects as employee or organization focused. The following benefits of remote work apply generally to employees. However, investing in the workforce’s betterment typically pans out well for the company also. In short, company leaders can often inspire better performance when focusing on their workers’ wellbeing. And since remote work can partially accomplish this, organizational decision-makers should pay close attention.
1. Better ability to manage work and life
Work-life balance is a topic talked about so often it’s become a bit of a cliché. Everyone seems to seek out the perfect way to either keep work and personal life separate or determine the best mix. Unfortunately, this isn’t always possible. In fact, it’s almost never possible. No matter the different strategies employed, one area will always seem to encroach on the other. At least, in part. However, one of the benefits of remote work is that it helps people better manage aspects of work and personal life. Particularly because the flexibility of working from home feeds into the freedom to take care of different needs as they arise.
Of course, not every remote worker experiences the same sort of freedom and flexibility. Some team managers closely monitor not only employee performance but activity as well. Others are less stringent about such requirements, instead preferring only that workers accomplish the tasks they set out to do. Freedom and flexibility in remote work actually form a spectrum. Some have more, others have less. Regardless placement on that spectrum, many remote workers find an enhanced ability to manage their work and personal lives. Even if only because they spend less time commuting and more accomplishing.
Undeniably, one of the best perks of working from home is the level of comfortability it affords. And this doesn’t only refer to the possibility of working in sweat pants and a tank-top, wrapped in a warm blanket. It also means the simple comfort of working within a space that’s at once familiar and inviting. When workers are more comfortable, their minds at-ease, they tend to be more productive. After all, when energy and time aren’t spent worrying over other matters like uncomfortable clothing, employees can focus.
Naturally, that doesn’t mean everyone in an office setting would automatically benefit from being able to work from home. Because some organizations are making massive strides toward a more comfortable office setting. However, there’s often something innately welcoming about a person’s house. And often, even when we don’t realize the shift in level of comfort, it’s present. So, whether it means working in pajamas or a suit and tie, remote work can still present a more comfortable option.
3. Creating a personalized office setting
Hand-in-hand with the aspect of comfortability, another of the benefits of remote work is being able to carefully curate the perfect office space. Often, in corporate settings, someone’s working space amounts to a small, grey cubicle. And sure, they can put a bobble-head or some other trinket up to give it more flair. But in actuality, that’s a modicum of the sort of personalization at-home workers have.
At the same time, displaying more “stuff” doesn’t always contribute to better personalization. It all goes back to the aspects of freedom and flexibility. Sometimes, the simple knowledge that an office space could be arranged differently is enough to make it better. Instead, the focus is on one’s ability to make the space feel like their own. And unfortunately, that isn’t always possible in an office. Even when it is, probably not to the same level one could achieve in a dedicated space at home.
4. Work as needed
If you’ve ever worked in an office setting, you probably realize that different people do different things to focus. Unfortunately, what helps one person might actually distract another. And more over, there are times where you might be the one distracting others. One benefit of remote work is that it affords space where a person can work without fear of bothering team members. In fact, this is directly related to setting up the perfect office space and finding a level of comfortability. Because when someone feels safe to work the way they need to, they’re more comfortable – not worried about annoying others. And furthermore, they can focus better and accomplish things efficiently.
So, whether you need background noise like music or the television in order to focus or something else, remote work can help. It offers the ability for every person, every part of the team, to work how they need to in order to accomplish shared goals.
5. More time to get things done
This benefit of remote work hinges on the idea of properly managing work and personal life. However, it plays into each one differently. For example, when there’s not a commute to an office, a person can start work earlier in the day. And because of that, they can also clock out sooner. This allows them time around the house to get other things done which they otherwise might not have been able to. Alternatively, they can spend precious time with family they might otherwise not have gotten.
On the other hand, working from home means if someone needs to spend extra time on the job, they can. Because there won’t be the worry about getting home late for dinner or missing an important occasion. Their setup is available several rooms away, and if something has to be handled quickly, they can jump on it. Of course, with the ability to work from home, people need to be more disciplined in their time-management skills as well. Because it can also be easy to focus on one area to the detriment of the other. However, as a general principal, remote work offers more time to accomplish important things.
6. Spend less on commuting
Depending on where you live, commuting may not actually present much of an issue. The person with a five-minute walk to work can usually get there easily without wasting time or money. However, others live in places that make it extremely difficult and time-consuming to get to the office. What might take one person several minutes could take others hours both ways. And it isn’t hard to see that this is a massive waste of time and money.
Most workers aren’t paid for the time it takes them to commute, even if they’re compensated for travel costs. So, even if their fuel is paid for by their company, the loss of time it takes driving to and from an office every day is lost. Sometimes, this might not seem like such a bad deal – it affords time to think, rest, listen to a podcast even. However, when a two-hour commute bookends an eight-hour workday, it’s difficult to justify. Especially when it begins eating into the time a person can spend on things outside of their job. For obvious reasons, remote work can completely eliminate this hassle.
Flexibility extends far beyond the bounds of work space and time. In fact, it touches on many different areas for those who work remotely. It means the ability to set a schedule, wear what works best, fit in important dates and meetings as needed. And that’s just the tip of the ice burg. The core of flexibility is this – workers do what works best for them because, in the end, that’s best for the organization.
However, real flexibility only benefits both when the remote worker is truly invested in the wellbeing of their company. One-sided flexibility, where a worker takes and takes without giving back, is inappropriate. So, it requires a wise, mature mind, self-control, and strong personal management skills.
8. Remove distractions
The same way working as needed benefits remote workers, so does the ability to remove distractions. After all, not only could you be annoying others in the office – you’re likely being irritated as well. Whether a coworker is always speaking loudly, right around the corner or interrupting you for a conversation. Sometimes, the best way to remove a distraction is, in fact, to remove yourself from that setting. One of the benefits of remote work is, of course, the opportunity to do just that.
However, if it hasn’t been clear up until this point, remote work requires responsibility. Working from home can also present new distractions not present in an office setting. And trading one distraction for another might not always be best. So, at-home workers need the discipline to recognize when to indulge distractions and when not to. Animals might need to be let out to go to the bathroom. However, the dishes don’t always have to be done in between work tasks. They can sometimes wait. Understanding the difference between can and need is vital. And managing distraction is paramount, whether in the office or at home.
9. Avoiding typical office drama
Let’s face it – office spaces represent hotbeds of drama and gossip. After all, everyone knows the water cooler is the perfect place to meet up and share news. Sometimes, this can actually be incredibly healthy. It allows people the opportunity to meet other coworkers, form strong relationships and recognize important company happenings. However, it can quickly devolve into hurtful conversation, slander, and other less-than-healthy activities. The water cooler shouldn’t take all the blame, though. These sorts of negative discussions pop up in all places around the office.
While remote work doesn’t entirely remove the problem, since communication still happens, it does help lessen it. There’s not as great an opportunity to stand around and badmouth the newest employee who just can’t seem to get it down. The older worker, struggling with new systems, doesn’t have to hear whispers about their lackluster performance as often. Unfortunately, communication which can be used to build up can also tear down. Remote working reduces the opportunity for this sort of behavior and still allows for helpful communication across appropriate channels.
10. Reduced stress and anxiety
Of course, one of the primary benefits of remote work is that levels of stress and anxiety drop. When a person has the ability to set up their own office space and work without worrying, it shows. Their performance often increases alongside efficiency. But more over, reduced stress and anxiety lead to a happier and healthier life overall. So, in the vein of work life management, it benefits both greatly – a sort of mutually-beneficial arrangement. Because healthy people are better workers, and better workers are healthier for it.
11. Personal productivity
So many of the benefits of remote work overlap that it can be hard to separate them out and examine individually. Personal productivity is the perfect example, because it plays heavily into various other areas. Having a home office can make one more productive because of comfortability. Reduced stress and anxiety increase productivity. Almost every benefit listed works toward personal productivity – which should come as a relief to employers.
However, personal productivity also touches on the home life aspect of the equation. Remote workers have more time to get things done around the house, spend with family, invest in a new hobby. So, personal productivity goes past the career-related and positively impacts both realms of remote work.
12. Building greater trust between team members
Inherently, when remote work is taken seriously and performed correctly, it should build trust between team members. Obviously, when individuals work from home, it’s more difficult to check their work and ensure its quality. As a result, team leaders must learn to trust that the work their employees accomplish is as it needs to be. Otherwise, they risk becoming overbearing by demanding too many virtual meetings and check-ins. Or, potentially worse, losing their team’s trust if they insist on monitoring work as it happens.
However, this trust building isn’t relegated only to team leaders. Remote work can help instill a sense of expectation between different members as well. Often, one person’s work relies on the tasks of another, and if they aren’t done correctly, it can be disastrous. So, when working remotely, there is a heightened sense of reliance, especially since the work isn’t as visible. Team members who are careful to fulfill the expectations of their peers will often find and accompanying amount of trust in their abilities.
13. Learn better communication skills
Sometimes, individuals fail to express themselves well through spoken word. Other times, they might simply need time to formulate a decent response – time not available in an intense conversation. However, remote work can help individuals learn to become better communicators. Ignoring the idea that most at-home communication takes place over a text or messaging service, even oral speaking skills can increase. When speaking can’t happen with a jog around the corner, it becomes a much more precious commodity. So, remote workers have to learn how to get their message across efficiently and intelligible. And the more this happens, the stronger their communication skills will become.
14. Developing better writing skills
As noted, most remote contact with coworkers happens through written messaging services. Perhaps through business tools like Slack or other apps. The more communication happens in this medium, the better individuals should become at writing efficiently and coherently. However, this aspect of remote work does more than simply increase communication skills. Because the more a person learns to write out ideas and argue for them, the better they’ll be when composing copy. They might become better writers overall, rather than simply decent communicators.
15. Becoming more efficient in meetings
The same communication principles apply to larger meetings between full remote teams teams and departments. Typically, since these happen over a video call or comparable medium, they can become somewhat hectic or inefficient. However, as individual members of the team learn to become better communicators, larger meetings will likely follow suit. The result is that each member knows how to speak when necessary, get the information across efficiently, and contribute effectively to the process.
Of course, at the beginning of a remote work structure, teams are likely going to be less efficient in meetings. They’ll need to learn the tools, figure out what works best, and go from that point. However, once these elements are in place, learning how to conduct and participate in quick, effective meetings is likely.
16. Learning new tools
One of the lesser known benefits of remote work is introduction to new tools that help structure day-to-day tasks. This can range from cloud-based storage software to retrospective sprint tools. And in between those ends, there are quite a few options. It’s easy to become set with specific, well-known tools that we’re used to. However, they aren’t always the best fit when working remotely. And sometimes, there’s simply a better tool out there than what’s currently utilized. Remote work can help individuals discover the different options available and make a choice on what works best for their routines and teams.
17. Get to know team members more personally
Interestingly, and almost contradictory to other expected benefits of remote work, it can help get to know team members more personally. That’s because in an office setting, there aren’t always structured times to do so. The water cooler is always available, but too much time spent there can impede productivity and lead to more clique-ish groups.
Alternatively, some companies use remote software as a means of increasing team morale and connectedness. During the pandemic, many had virtual luncheons that way, where employees could eat “together” in an informal setting. But that only represents one option for strengthening team dynamics. There are plenty of other ways to get know to coworkers. Sometimes, it might be up to the company to schedule events. Other times, a team member’s suggestion can make a world of difference. Either way, the methods can range from typical to extremely creative. So, the sky is the limit.
18. Exposure to new ways of thinking
Arguably, most individuals could greatly benefit from encountering new ways of thinking different from their own. This might mean meeting someone of another culture. It could easily mean discovering a viewpoint they’ve never considered from a friend. Regardless, such occurrences are what help us innovate and grow into better thinkers. Overwhelmingly, the ability to see something from another perspective is critical to life and business both. So, it stands as no surprise that remote work can help in this area.
Because remote work is usually virtual, workers can participate on the same team from all over the globe. That being the case, remote workers are more likely to encounter different perspectives than purely in-office personnel. And as a result, they’ll likely discover new ways of thinking. They don’t have to adopt every idea or thought others offer. However, exposure to them allows that person a small glimpse into the wider world.
19. Developing new connections
Expanding one’s personal network is a prime benefit of remote work, because in meeting individuals from a wide variety of places, they build new connections. Not every relationship will form as strongly as the others. However, strength isn’t always the best indicator of importance in personal networking. Sometimes, it’s more about the number of people you know, others, the type of people you know. It all comes down to the need you have and the situation you’re in. A single, trustworthy contact can open up a world of doors. But sometimes, it’s great to have many different options.
Obviously, the more people you meet, the more opportunity arises. And if you show yourself to be a trustworthy and capable individual, a strong personal network can help advance a career immensely.
20. Rise to meet increased expectations
Essentially, this remote working benefit comes down to personal drive. That is, a person’s willingness to meet expectations and even exceed them. Of course, this can also happen in an office setting. However, the nature of remote work is often considered somewhat more difficult. Especially since communication can become sparse. That said, when someone excels and exceeds expectations in a remote setting, team often leaders take notice.
Of course, when an individual continually rises to meet a challenge, they set themselves up for further success. This might mean a pay raise or even a promotion to a better position. Regardless, excellent work deserves great reward, and remote settings are a field ripe with opportunity.
21. Greater opportunity for better jobs
Remote work for a single company can mean the opportunity to rise through the ranks, especially after proving one’s potential. However, it doesn’t have to limit to that alone. Some companies hope for individuals with so many years’ experience in remote work, to prove they can handle this different working environment. So, even outside of one’s current employer, opportunity for better jobs exists. Sometimes, it simply comes down to networking, finding the right people who can recommend you for a position. Others, your full resume might be the best bet. Either way, having a decent amount of qualifiable remote experience can help land better positions. Especially since it opens up access to companies from all over the world.
22. New forms of training and education
Remote work, or perhaps the internet in general, makes training and education far easier than before. At least in some settings. Rather than limiting employees to in-house, on-site opportunities, companies can outsource these events through other on-demand providers. So, companies don’t necessarily have to employ an in-house educator or trainer in order to ensure their workers have essential skills and abilities.
On a more personal side, workers themselves can seek out training sources and courses cheaply online. That means they can upskill and better themselves in order to secure higher-paying positions. And with access to an almost limitless amount of content, there’s no shortage of opportunity.
Benefits of Remote Work for Employers
Obviously, far more of the listed benefits apply to employees than employers. But as noted repeatedly, having a capable and effective workforce often comes down to ensuring individuals have what they need. So, when companies invest in remote work setups for their employees, they simultaneously prosper as well. Still, there are at least three simple benefits of remote work which more heavily apply to organizations than individuals.
1. Increased talent pool
Naturally, whenever a company opens itself up to the possibility of remote workers, the talent pool increases exponentially. For a purely local organization, it means the ability to hire individuals from all over a state, nation, or even the world. When workers don’t have the requirement to physically be at the office daily, then it’s possible to hire from previously unavailable pools. That means that organizations can seek out top talent and employ them, no matter the physical barriers and location. So long as they’re actually a good fit for the work and company, that is.
2. Lower environmental impact
In today’s world, it’s necessary to think about the environmental impact of day-to-day operations. This includes overhead related to things like electricity usage, water, paper, and transportation. Invariably, whenever a company opts-in to remote work, they lower their environmental impact. After all, workers aren’t using up resources for mundane tasks, and as a result, society and the planet are better for it.
3. Lower overhead costs
Naturally, in lock-step with lower environmental impact, a company’s decrease in resource use means lower overhead costs. When employees don’t have to be in an office, there are actually times that physical buildings can be eliminated altogether. They can be sold off or used minimally, the same as other resources. Obviously, utility costs for a building will be lower when not in constant use. And even if an organization helps cover employee overhead for home office costs, it will likely be lower than larger office expenses.
Other Benefits of Remote Work
Of course, as long as this list is, it isn’t exhaustive. There are plenty of other benefits of remote work, some of which can be discovered in VTR Learning’s courses. Sometimes, personal experience is better than a written list. So, if you have the opportunity to work remotely, you might try it. Of course, you can always start off slowly and work your way into a more long-term position. But at the end of the day, it largely comes down to personal needs, preference and obligations.
Article written by Braden Norwood
Last updated March 16, 2023