For many, the growing virtual nature of the workspace is wonderful, and the last year has really provided more people with the ability to work remotely. CNBC noted that 70% of employees around the world were working remotely at least one day a week – and that was before the pandemic! However, before you negotiate with your employer to stay remote after offices reopen or decide to dive in to the virtual workplace fully, there are a few points to consider. 

  • The obvious place to start is by asking yourself: Can I truly do my work outside the office? Step one is to review if you were able to work remotely during COVID-19; if not, your work probably needs to be done onsite. Even if you did work remotely during the pandemic, though, did it change the nature of the work? Generally, your work can be done outside the office if you don’t rely on the office daily. For example, if you’re in sales and you’re spending most of your day on the phone with clients, onsite with them, or processing orders and contracts at a computer, you can usually do the same thing from a home office. If you’re in manufacturing, though, and you need certain equipment to get your work done, remote work isn’t going to be the right fit. That said, even in a production environment, you may have a day when you’re reviewing reports or working on sourcing; these might be done better at home without interruptions from the floor. Now that offices have been forced to consider what could be done in a remote setting, you may have more leverage here, too. 
  • Next, you need to ask: Do I have the resources I need? You don’t need much to work from home. Generally, a computer with work-related software, an internet connection, and some means of communicating with the outside world are all you need. Unfortunately, we do take broadband internet for granted; there are still large parts of the US lacking quality internet services and speeds. Without reliable internet, you are at a disadvantage. While lots of companies have offered special deals during the pandemic, those may not last past 2021. In addition, if you live in a loud apartment complex, near a playground or daycare center, or with children and/or roommates who are home all day while you’re trying to work, you may find you’re distracted more than you would be in a contained office space. Lots of people quickly discovered this during 2020; it’s important that you have a space that can allow you to work as effectively as you would in an office or workplace. 
  • Third, it’s good to consider: How are my time management skills? Even after huge numbers of Americans were working from home for a year, some still have the impression that remote workers spend all day in their pajamas playing with their kids and watching talk shows. Nothing could be further from the truth. Most people who work from home will say the same thing: they usually work harder and are more productive. According to Forbes, in a self-reporting study, more than 90% of remote workers in 2006 said they worked much harder from home (well before this became as common as it is now). Another study in the UK, though, showed that remote employees reported working longer hours and often forgot to take breaks. Remote work can be a great solution for many employees, but for others, it may result in more work and a lower work-life balance. A lot depends on how you manage your time, and your ability to separate work from everything else at home. Again, you may have developed a newfound sense of how to manage your time as a positive outcome of the pandemic, and you can be more honest about this assessment now!

In the event you’re able to work from home, you have the resources you need, and you are prepared to manage your time so you don’t find that work becomes your entire life, remote work can be a blessing. Remember, though, once offices reopen, your colleagues may be back in the office, and that’s another factor to consider if you’re the kind of person who enjoys a lot of collaboration and engagement. Perhaps the best move is to try to negotiate the option with your employer to do a day or two a week at first to see how it feels for you.

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