21 Jul How to approach remote work in 2022
For the past few years, there’s been a growing belief that remote work is and will be the trend of the future. Articles online will have you believe that this is a new phenomenon when, in fact, it’s been around long before the pandemic.
I’ve personally been doing remote work since 2012, back when Upwork was still called Odesk. It was a beautiful time, and a wonderful opportunity that allowed me and some of my friends who were also freelancers to pursue work and studies simultaneously. When I graduated in 2015, it was mostly because of an SEO writing job that I had with Thumbtack, which is a startup from San Francisco. That job allowed me to finish my Political Science degree and the first few years of law school — all because I could do it from the comfort of home (or in my case, coffee shops and wherever I could find stable internet connection).
The truth is that the Covid-19 pandemic has shed more light on the opportunities that lay within the work-from-home setup, and companies all over the world had no choice but to adopt that model. This Forbes article even goes as far as stating that remote work is the biggest legacy of the pandemic.
“An increasing number of employers expect remote work to become the new normal. Remote work does not seem to hurt productivity, and there is a growing realization that reversing remote work practices after a year or more would be difficult.” The article states.
Here we find ourselves three years into the biggest transition in human history and I ask you this: is remote work for everybody?
Analysis of remote work in 2022
To see a clearer picture of where we are at, let’s look at some data. There’s a survey conducted by Owl Labs that reveals the following:
- Remote employees save an average of 40 minutes daily from commuting.
- Since 2020 people have been meeting by video calls 50% more since COVID-19.
- During COVID-19 close to 70% of full-time workers are working from home.
- After COVID-19 92% of people surveyed expect to work from home at least 1 day per week and 80% expected to work at least 3 days from home per week.
- 23% of those surveyed would take a 10% pay cut to work from home permanently.
- People are saving on average close to 500 dollars per month being at home during COVID-19. Resulting in savings close to $6000 per year.
- A mere 20-25% of companies are paying some of the cost for home office equipment and furnishings.
- 81% of those surveyed believe their employer will continue to support remote work after COVID-19.
- 59% of respondents said they would be more likely to choose an employer who offered remote work compared to those who didn’t.
The key points that we can gather from their study is that employees stand to benefit from remote work — they enjoy it so much that they would rather take a pay cut and choose a job that offers it. Remote working has become such a norm that employers specifically mention the possibility of working from home, an enticing prospect given the times we’re in.
Is it effective though? As a matter of fact, yes it is. According to Upwork’s Workforce Report, 32.2% of hiring managers claim that their workers’ productivity has increased since they were allowed to work from home in 2020.
Another study conducted by the University of Chicago found that 30% out of 10,000 employees interviewed said that they were more productive and engaged in their work since their companies allowed them to work from home.
The increase in productivity is a big thing, but hardly surprising. People enjoy change, especially with the amount of time that they save from commuting and all other mundane aspects of working in an office. Workers have found more time for themselves and their families, and some have even pursued long-hidden passion projects. Is it sustainable though?
Effective work-from-home techniques
As someone who has technically been working remotely for the past ten years, I have a few suggestions on how to survive working from home. If you’re reading this, you might have a few years of experience under your belt too. Some of these suggestions might seem obvious to you by now, but for others it just might be what saves them from themselves! Working from home is definitely not for everybody.
- Find a job that is 100% remote. This might seem odd, but hear me out. There are companies that bait workers into thinking that the job they are signing up for is completely remote, when in fact it only mentions the possibility. At any point some companies can pull you back into the office or — in some extreme cases — have you relocate for the job. You don’t want to dedicate time and resources into building a comfortable workspace that you’ll only end up using for a little while. Speaking of workspace..
- Build a workspace you want to use. With the inevitability of working from home being a permanent setup, you might as well build the workspace of your dreams. This step alone can take a lot of effort, what with the decisions you have to make regarding the right tools and software you invest in. More than anything, build one that is centered on functionality and comfort! Here’s a quick guide you can use.
- Have the right computer. This is a tricky one, but let’s start with the most basic of tools you will need to work from home: your computer. Are you a Windows or an OS kind of person? There are a myriad of guides online telling you which one to choose, but here’s a quick summary: Windows is great for more open-source needs. Apple OS, on the other hand, has its walled garden but that garden is reliable and very stable. Windows is more flexible for both work and gaming functions. Apple is software supported for much, much longer. For a more extensive guide, check out this link.
- Invest in the right software. Now the tools of the trade; whether it be messaging, videoconferencing, customer relationship management, and everything else in between, you have a lot of options out there. What are the right ones to invest in? Should you use free programs, or should you go with ones with paid subscriptions? It all depends on your needs, of course. But for a more extensive guide, check out this link.
- Get the right internet plan. If there’s one thing that really puts a hamper on your ability to perform well at your remote job, it’s bad internet connection. How well do you think you’ll perform if you’re constantly getting disconnected?
- Stick to a working schedule. One of the biggest challenges of working from home is — weirdly enough — the freedom. Not having a manager looming over your shoulder is both a blessing and a curse! So to remedy this issue, make sure you create a schedule you can stick to. This helps you concentrate and defeat the biggest enemy you’re likely to face: procrastination.
- Maintain clear communication with your supervisor and workmates. Just because you aren’t working from the office, that doesn’t mean you can’t replicate the feeling of an office environment and the camaraderie that comes with it. In my experience, having a messaging platform where you can chat with team members is a great step to avoiding the isolation that comes with remote work. Talking to your supervisor on a regular basis also helps you manage your tasks and keep your goals in check.
- Find time away from your desk. With the line between work and play as blurry as they are, make sure you strive towards finding balance. Some people report of being overworked since they started working from home, and it’s not hard to see why. The desire to keep working might be hard to combat initially, and the sooner you figure out a system that works for you, the better it is for your longevity.
- Set realistic goals for yourself. They say that the long road towards success is paved with little victories. When you find yourself disheartened and isolated, remember why you’re doing your job. Is this a short-term project, or is this a career you can see yourself doing for a long time? Setting realistic goals gives you the boost you need to help you get towards wherever you need to go!
- Remain thankful. Once the initial luster of working from home wears off (and trust me, it will) you’ll find yourself taking some things for granted: the lack of commute, the gas savings, the privilege of working within close proximity of your family, and so much more. Do you want to give that up?
Stats for Remote Work
With projections saying that remote work is expected to grow by 30% in the year 2023, it’s safe to say that this model is here to stay. If you’re already working from home, you can rest easy. Your job prospects for the foreseeable future is safe. If you’re someone looking around for a prospective work from home job, now is your best time to do so. The chances of you finding one is very high at this point, so jump at the chance if you can.
But is remote work really for everyone? This State of Remote Work Report for 2022 by Buffer found that out of 2,118 people from 16 countries that they interviewed, a staggering 97% said they would recommend remote work to other people. 61% had very positive experiences with it, and 56% wanted a fully remote position if at all possible. These numbers provide valuable insight into the realities of remote work: it really isn’t for everyone, at least not for the long run. But it could be for you!
Just remember that if you do decide to jump onboard the remote work train, it won’t always be easy. It is equal parts hard and easy; you’re likely to encounter intangible difficulties that you wouldn’t find in an office setup. You won’t have the usual support systems (supervisors and workmates) and the level of distraction can be heightened, what with the close proximity of your bed and entertainment systems.
And then there’s the other side of the coin: you get to save so much money by working from home (have you seen the gas prices?), you get to spend more time with family, and you have more time to pursue your most hidden passions. Ever thought of picking up painting? Writing? Anything in between? Let’s say you save an average of 2 hours a day from commuting. That’s 10 hours a week you get back! They say that it takes 1000 human hours to be an expert at something. So if you put in those 10 hours a week that you earned back towards that goal, you’ll be an expert in less than two years.
With remote work being a real option for workers the world over, now might be a great time to try it out. There’s a whole industry that’s designed to support workers, and over a decade of real-world experience to back up on. And with more and more companies planning to take their operations to the cloud and opening up more remote work opportunities, this might be the change that you’re looking for. Who doesn’t want a better work-life balance?
The Call Journey