Working Remote is More  Popular Than Ever, but Can You Be  Too Remote?

In the past few years ‘remote work,’ or telework, has risen to become part of our everyday lexicon, and not only is it popular among employees but it is actually becoming the new institutional norm, with companies and organizations finding that working remotely at least one day a week can increase productivity. That is, stereotypes of freelancers or the semi-employed glancing at emails between binging Netflix series are well out of date. Many of the most  recognized companies as well as state and Federal governments emphasize regular remote or flex-time as part of their perks. Why has there been this tectonic shift away from needing to see every employee at a desk and accounted for during business hours?  

It’s clear that remote work helps both parties: companies and institutions can cut down on utility costs when their employees aren’t in the office. And employees can save time and money by eliminating their commute on days when they are remote, not to mention eliminate the stress of a commute. And, simply, the nature of business has changed. We are far more digitally-based than ever: meetings, trainings, interviews, and projects all seemingly happen online and across multiple time-zones. For companies that are entirely remote this is a tremendous financial boon, not needing offices around the world. And this flexibility is one of the biggest demands by the Millennial generation which craves more autonomy and freedom rather than be tied to a fixed office all year-round like their parents’ generation.  

A 2019 study by IWG  showed that 80%  of workers in the U.S. would choose a job which offered flex-time to work outside of the office over a job that didn’t, and just over half, 54%, of people value being able to choose their work location over an increase in vacation time. Given these findings, it’s unsurprising that 74% of respondents believe that flexible working has become the new normal. As a result, globally, 62% of employers now have some sort of flexible work policy.    

But is working remotely truly ideal? What about isolation? Procrastination? Team communication? Security risks? And what about overwork — are you able to unplug and have a proper work/life balance?   

Typically, remote or telework indeed implies working from home, from a coffee shop, or, even, from a remote location, let’s say a beach, as might be the fantasy of many a digital nomad. But many who have experienced remote work firsthand note that the issues mentioned above are quite real. As a possible solution coworking has emerged as an advantageous option for both employers and employees. It allows companies to still keep their costs low when compared to maintaining a separate office and support staff, and for employees coworking helps create a distinction between home and work and still gives enough of a sense of community even when those in neighboring offices are not necessarily from the same company.  

Mike Scafuri is the Managing Director for the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic Regions of the Real Estate division of Pacific Life, and until mid-2019 he was based in Chicago working with a small team. Upon being transferred to the Washington, DC area he began working from a Carr Workplaces coworking center in Bethesda, Maryland and has enjoyed the experience. “Having folks around, being able to say hello to the receptionist each morning, it’s brought a sense of community.” Mike was surprised to find that he even knew someone from his industry also working in that same coworking space and soon they were doing business together. “Being here is far better than being on my own. There’s the buzz of the activity nearby,” which helps keep him energized and engaged, he explained. It is Mike’s hope that he can grow the business enough in the coming months to have his own team working along with him at that same coworking location.  

 Another remote worker, Connor de Mill, who is a sales rep based in Los Angeles, said his company, which does auditing and is headquartered in South Bend, Indiana, was at first skeptical of the value of him working out of a coworking space but quickly came around. Connor uses a Carr Workplaces location in Downtown Los Angeles on a part-time basis, roughly 2-3 days a week and says, “it increases my productivity, not just when I’m at the coworking center but even when I’m at home. The variety between the two keeps you sharp.” Connor cited the need to have a separation between his office and home life and that working from home all the time could leave him “a little stir crazy.” When he first broached the idea of coworking to his employer, who covers the cost, he said there was some curiosity on their part, but that they’ve “come to see that value, and it’s now more and more common among the remote employees.”  

Are you a remote worker that could use the distraction-free environment of an office or would like greater separation between work and home life?  

 Tips when seeking out a coworking space:  

  1. Most coworking providers will allow you try their space before you sign a contract, if not, move on.  
  2. If you are hesitant or unsure about how much you will use the space, try a part-time or even a virtual plan, that gives you a business address, telephone and voicemail, and a certain number of coworking hours per month.  
  3. Find a space that gives you the right balance of activity with quiet for productivity. Some coworking spaces have common areas that feel too frenetic. Others emphasize library-level quiet.  
  4. Many employers will cover the cost of a coworking space if you are a remote worker. Pitch the idea as giving you greater structure, community and productivity.  

A coworking space like Carr Workplaces could be an ideal fit if you need an environment that offers greater community and productivity. If you are interested in trying us out, contact us for a complimentary week at any of our locations.  

 

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