Many people panicked when storefronts and offices shuttered in 2020 and we were all thrown into remote work environments. What were we going to do to stay connected? Productive? Sane? Working from home has actually panned out to be far more beneficial than anticipated. It is projected that 25% of all U.S. jobs will be fully remote by the end of 2022.
When given the ideal working conditions – and even often when not – there are so many perks to consider. Had we not been tossed out of our comfort zones, we may never have recognized them to their fullest extent. Here are our top 5 benefits to permanent work-from-home environments.
1. Your work environment is your choice
Gone are the days when you were forced to operate under harsh – yet somehow always dimming – fluorescent lights, blinded by the stark contrast of white walls after staring at your computer for hours on end. Natural sunlight was a stranger to you, working from a cubicle or office space where it was uncomfortable or even impossible to decorate for self-expression.
Given optimal circumstances, you can create a workspace that adequately reflects your personality in a permanent work-from-home environment. You can create a space under your own roof that reflects your creativity, inspiring you from the moment you get out of bed. Paint the walls a splash of color that would otherwise be considered unacceptable at work. Add plants, photos, art and decorations you would otherwise have to defend or explain in a room full of coworkers. You can work from a space you already adore and choose to share it or any other background during remote work calls.
2. Reduces the stress of commuting
In 2022, almost 40% of regular commuters waste 15-29 minutes traveling each day, while 34% spend 30-120 minutes in transit. Commuting of any type into an office – be it by walking, vehicle or mass transit – can be incredibly inconvenient. Hours and days of your life are spent simply getting from place to place. The ever-looming threat of being late for work or a meeting. The dangers involved with rush hour traffic of any kind and the health disadvantages of being around a cluster of people at any given time of day. Not to mention, it isn’t a common theme for offices to reimburse any expenses related to commuting. Even with hybrid remote work settings or the option to have in-person meetings, cutting the regular commute out is one less hindrance in your day.
3. Distractions can be managed
In the office, there were voices everywhere. Coworkers “popping in” to ask questions, share their thoughts or try to entertain you with home life stories and complaints. Even if you were privileged enough to have an office to yourself, there was always that coworker who didn’t know how to knock or presented themselves at the most inconvenient intervals of your day. Water cooler and breakroom chats could be fun and could be uncomfortable. However, they were always a bit soul-sucking and took up a block of time that could be dedicated to literally anything else.
Enter: working from home. Sure, you may have family, roommates and pets to consider. If you live in close quarters, you may have to worry about the noise levels of your neighbors or construction outside, but this is often no more than what you would be dealing with in a formal office environment. In your home – or wherever you choose to work – noise-canceling headphones are completely acceptable and even revered. You can lock yourself in a room for hours on end without questions from any outsiders.
Working from home makes cutting distractions out to focus on work a little more accessible for the everyday employee. It can also help you re-evaluate the way you work, and identify if you are creating distractions for yourself. Too many open tabs and an unfocused mindset are just two of a myriad of distractions you may be throwing at yourself. Luckily, in your own workspace, you can more easily identify these factors and test new ways to work through them.
4. Your calendar is (mostly) your own
Working from a remote setting means you get to set your own schedule. Of course, you need to make space for any office standup meetings, conference or client calls, brainstorming sessions, etc., however, the space in between is all yours to prioritize how you’d like. While we would like to think that everyone had the freedom to tend to their work similarly in an office environment, micromanaging is a lot easier for department leads to doing when they have physical access to your space.
Approach the tasks that you can knock out early, and choose to address more difficult or time-consuming details later in the day if you want. Work out details on the account you are really excited to partner with when you are at your peak energy levels of the day, then address concerns for less enthusiastic projects later. You can even block out time for a workout, rest or continued education, if the day and workload allow. The world – and certainly your own home – is your oyster.
5. Collaborate as you choose
Feeling uninspired? Communicating with others and collaborating on projects can help get your mind in the right place with any given project. When you work from home, you can still collaborate with coworkers, or even expand into your personal network. Working remotely challenges you to approach coworkers and collaborators on a different level than you are used to. There are countless CRM systems, email options, and phone and video call channels to help you work through issues with your remote coworkers.
If you live with other people, feel free to bounce ideas off of them if they are accessible during working hours. Sometimes, a third-party opinion (on matters that do not involve an NDA, of course) can help provide a perspective that colleagues would not otherwise be privy to.