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In 2018, it was reported that 3.9 million Americans are now working remotely for half the week or more.

This growing number reflects the increasing demands that workplaces must accommodate for today’s modern employees and the unique challenges that they are presented with.

There are many reasons why one may choose to work remotely. This could include the needs of parenting, moving to a new city, caring for a family member, or simply a personal preference to work from home.

To stand out competitively with the increasing talents entering the workforce each year, many companies are now offering flexible work hours and remote capabilities to their employees.

This benefit can be an attractive feature for anyone searching for a job in their desired field. Though it may not be the right fit for everyone, for some it is at the top of their list when job hunting. The current question on many businesses’ minds is: will this trend continue or is it a temporary fad? The truth is, it likely won’t be going anywhere anytime soon.

With this continuing trend moving forward into the future, we’ve been forced to question whether the benefits outweigh the cons of having a smaller workforce present in the office. As employees, we must question whether it will truly be the best decision for ourselves.

The Pros

There are a lot of benefits to working remotely, which is why the option to do so is so attractive to modern employees.

Arguably, the best perk of working from home is the increase in a strong work-life balance. In today’s world, a two-income household is common as the cost of living has greatly increased.

However, finding the ability to manage both parent’s work schedules and the schedules of your children can be incredibly difficult. Working out of a home office allows many to take advantage of a flexible schedule.

Meaning that they may start or end work on your terms as long as you complete your set number of hours per day. This has allowed many families to spend more quality time together and better accommodate each other’s schedules. Ultimately, this leads to lower stress levels and healthier, happier employees.

In a recent study conducted by Coso, remote employees revealed that they were getting more sleep, more exercise, and even eating healthier than they were in their traditional desk jobs. With this healthier lifestyle employees are taking better care of their bodies and lowering their chances of falling sick, thus reducing the number of unplanned paid time off days.  This benefits mental health as well.

Remote employees are even able to fit in more regular doctors’ appointments and physicals. Depending on the state your employer resides in this may even be considered a tax benefit for them.

As more employers are testing out remote work offerings, they are reporting increases in worker productivity rates. Two-thirds of managers reported this finding to be true in their own offices.

Freelance Graphic Designer at work

Their employees are enjoying working alone where they have the potential to hit their maximum productivity rates and the trust that their employers are providing them with in return. Trusting your employees to get their work done on their terms and their timeline can ultimately lead to greater engagement levels as a team.

The Cons

Traditional office lifestyles do offer many benefits that remote work often lacks. For instance, there is a noticeable decrease in the amount of social interaction that one receives daily. This can harm teamwork across the organization.

Coordinating schedules, effectively communicating ideas, and general synergy all become more difficult by having a remote employee on the team. With an in-office career, your hours tend to be more structured and routine becomes easier to develop. However, when you are home with your technology in front of you it can feel as though you are constantly on the clock.

Another con that is reported from remote employees, is the feeling that they are often passed over for promotions due to their lack of presence in the office compared to other qualified employees.

A strong negative stigma around remote employees still exists today, as previous generations of workers look down on them as taking the “easy way out” on getting a job. This reputation will likely fade as the popularity of this lifestyle increases over the next few years, but for now, it is, unfortunately, one that remains strong. Many wonder how someone can be productive in their home where the environment is crowded with distractions of children, pets, the television, and more. This is indeed a more difficult situation for an undisciplined worker to manage.

One of the largest considerations that remote employees forget to take into consideration is that they are at greater risk of falling victim to a cyber-attack. 57% of companies believe mobile workers were hacked or caused security issues in the last year. Not all Wi-Fi routers are secured, whether it’s the one at your home or in a cafe where access is open for all patrons. This open-access point produces a greater threat to individuals’ data to be breached.

Remote employees should never visit websites that store personally identifiable data or financial information on their servers while you are connected to public networks.

It is important to make sure that your employer provides you with the proper equipment when working remotely so that you can complete your job to the fullest degree and on the safest level. However, it’s ultimately up to you to protect your home network against these threats. Securing your network with unique credentials, strong antivirus software, and backing up data regularly will help protect yours, your clients, and your company’s data.

Deciding to take advantage of remote work policies and flexible hours is not always an easy one to make. You must consider the pros and cons carefully and consider this information for your personal needs.

Conduct thorough research before making any decisions about working remotely.

Take into consideration that many remote employees need to have these qualities for the situation to work well:

  • Strong self-discipline
  • Time management skills
  • Highly organized and structured individual
  • Able to work by oneself without constant supervision

Though many of these skills can be acquired over time, it’s important not to jump into this working lifestyle full force if you lack in these areas. Rather, take it slow by starting one day at a time until you feel you are confident in your remote work abilities. Always stay connected to the office and work with your team to create an environment that is productive for everyone.

Written By
John Price is a retired IT professional who enjoys freelance writing. His writing is focused on the cybersecurity and IT professional space. He is also an avid fisherman spending a majority of his retirement out on the lake.

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