What Is Remote Work? Things You Need to Know
Did you ever see those bogus internet ads that said you could earn cash just by working on your computer at home? They seemed like such an unrealistic scam. Then, 2020 happened, and remote work swiftly became commonplace.
This change in work life forced many of us to take stock of our lives and what we were doing with them. This past year has seen some of the highest job resignations in history. And now, employers are fighting each other for talent.
Sudden Change to Working From Home
In March of 2020, the world suddenly just stopped. People were told to go home, and bustling offices became ghost towns. The roads were suspiciously empty and quiet.
2020 was the year of a massive shift in work life. Many were sent home with a laptop and maybe a headset for teleconferences. Others were laid off and had to rely on unemployment and find a new job altogether.
The Pandemic was the catalyst for the WFH movement. Remote work was a type of employment that many people dreamed of. Working from the comfort of your own home or a local coffee shop was a fantasy for a lot of people.
Remote work has been an idea that’s been considered by companies for a long time. It’s not like it wasn’t a thing before the pandemic, though. Companies like Google and other tech giants have had at least some employees work remotely.
Independent contractors have been utilizing the WFH model for years. After all, why pay for office space that will only be used by people that are there temporarily? So, the concept of remote work has been proven to work and be beneficial.
So, why haven’t we all been working from home these past years if WFH works? It’s likely that we’ve all just been so used to going into the office. Sitting on a bus or in your car for an hour every day to commute was something we didn’t really think about.
COVID-19 was the push that offices needed, not only in America but around the world, to get people to work remotely. After all, what choice did companies have? Sure, they could retrofit all of their cubicles, integrate social distancing practices, and spend a bunch of money on daily sanitization.
Or they could just send people home with a cheap laptop. Most companies chose the latter. The pandemic forced us to reconsider the benefits of physical office spaces.
The pandemic didn’t just force people to reconsider how they worked; it made us think about the type of work we wanted to do. Forbes has called this past year “the great resignation.” Tens of thousands of people got a moment to breathe and reflect on their lives.
It was like we all woke up and realized just how much we don’t like commuting, working under fluorescent lights, and spending all day in a cube. 2020 and 2021 have been a time of reexamination of our lives and career choices.
And with the massive influx of available jobs, people are more tempted than ever to switch career paths. These companies are having to compete for new employees and are offering all kinds of benefits for new hires.
Many companies are offering the option to either work from home or in the office. For those of us that miss the collaborative nature of the office, it’s nice that the option is there if we want it. Some people have an easier time focusing in a dedicated workspace away from home.
And for the more introverted people, it’s relieving that we have the choice to stay home now. Not everyone works well around others. Some people simply like their space. This hybrid workflow and design should only benefit companies that are willing to be flexible.
People who would otherwise not be able to work for a certain company because of schedule issues can now be utilized remotely. With all of these benefits and opportunities, it’s no wonder why there has been a mass exodus.
Companies are also competing for talent by increasing wages, and in some cases, substantially. Even in-person jobs like fast food restaurants are offering much higher starting wages, but many are still struggling to get people to work for them.
Everyone was getting fed up with low-paying jobs that take an hour to get to. COVID-19 was just the breaking point. And now, all kinds of economic opportunities are popping up around the country.
So, you’re working from home, and you’re trying to figure out how to stay focused and on task? If you haven’t had the pleasure of remote work before, it can be quite an adjustment—mostly in a good way.
Working at home comes with its challenges along with the benefits, and these distractions can affect productivity. If you have kids at home, it can be really difficult to stay on task even if you have an entirely separate room to work in.
Are Remote Workers Getting Things Done?
Remote work focuses more on getting the job done than the number of hours worked. For employers, it can be difficult to track productivity if you can’t see what your remote workers are doing all day.
However, Stanford conducted a compelling study that shows a 19% increase in overall productivity for people who start working from home. You’d think people would hardly be able to get anything done with so many more distractions, but it wasn’t the case at all for most.
When people work at home, minor worries like doing laundry and making dinner are no longer things that pile up at the end of the day. How many times have you come home from a long, hard day at work and had a million little chores still left to do? We bet more than a few.
Working from home allows us to not be distracted by other coworkers. It’s nice asking a friend from work how their weekend went, but all of those little water cooler conversations can add up fast. There’s also the problem of in-person meetings at a physical office.
All too often, we have had to go to meetings that break up our focus that didn’t amount to much and could have just been an email. Now, many would-be meetings have been turned into quick emails and short video calls.
Remote work largely takes out the “when are we going home?” voice in our minds and has turned those voices into “What can we get done today?”
How You Can Stay On Task
There are few things you can do to make sure you stay focused and energized while working remotely. The first thing is to not work in bed. It may be extremely tempting to just roll over and grab the laptop from the nightstand and go, but this will not only affect your work; it will mess with your sleep.
Keeping a regular routine and normal sleeping hours is crucial to your health and your work. It’s probably not a good idea to keep the pajamas on and roll over to the desk, either. Basically, just stick to the basic schedule that you had before working from home.
Get up, take a shower, and get dressed just like a normal day. Focusing on work is so much easier when you’re feeling fresh.
If you can, keep your phone on the other side of whatever room you’re working in. Our phones have been engineered to grab and keep our attention for as long as possible. Social media, smooth user interface animations, and cat memes. Do yourself a favor and put a little bit of physical distance between yourself and your phone while working.
Drink plenty of water and avoid sugary drinks. Sugar might give you a momentary boost, but it will lead to lower levels of concentration in the long run. Try to stick with one to two cups of coffee a day. Anything beyond that could contribute to anxiety or a lack of focus.
If you’re working on a laptop, an adjustable laptop stand might be a good idea. These stands raise the back of your computer up and give you a more ergonomic position for typing. Some of them even raise your entire laptop up to allow for a standing position at your desk.
Going to a local cafe for fresh coffee and a nice view can really revitalize your attitude towards your work for the day. Coffee shops can get kinda loud, though. So, bring a pair of noise-canceling headphones.
Is This The New Norm?
So, what does the future hold for us besides holograms? It’s hard to say if WFH is here to stay. Some say it’s all temporary and that office life is coming back eventually. Others say remote work is going to be the new norm and that working at a physical office will be reserved for a select few.
Whether people liked it or not, our society has gotten a taste of being able to work from the comfort of our own homes. The pandemic kind of forced us to ask, “why do we need to go into an office at all?”