As working remotely becomes a widely accepted style of business, companies grapple with policies and workers strive to find the right balance. According to Gallup, in 2016 43% of Americans reported working from home at least some of the time. Even huge global companies, such as Amazon, are testing out virtual workplaces. Three AYC Media team members with different backgrounds and styles of work share their thoughts on working from home.
Andrew Jackson - Senior Designer
During my short six-year career as a professional creative, I have had the opportunity to work alongside some extremely talented individuals both in-office and remotely, and I can point out several pros and cons that exist in both situations. Some obvious pros for WFH are that you save time on your commute, spend less money on travel and you don’t have to deal too much with office politics. For me, I travel an hour to work and an hour home - that equates to 40 hours a month just traveling to my job. Imagine what you can do or accomplish with 40 more hours of free time a month. I’ve also noticed that my overall productivity is higher when I’m working from home. My designing becomes much more deliberate and efficient because I can lock myself in my office and really dial in to my work.
Of course, there’s a negative flip-side to every positive situation. For me, it has always been important to surround myself with other creatives, and you just don’t always get that when you work remotely. I think that has been a huge concern for a lot of creatives in the design field which is why we’re starting to see collaborative work-share spaces pop up all around the world. The need to be surrounded by like-minded individuals pushes creativity and ultimately the result is a better product. If you’re an extroverted person like myself, you might also find that working from home starts to become very lonely if you are constantly working alone and in the same space. When I was working from home full-time, I always liked to switch up my location when I could; a coffee shop, the library, or a bar always seemed to mix things up enough to not go stir crazy.
I think that the ideal situation for me would be to work at an office that offers split time between working from home and being in the office. Like most things in life, balance seems to be the key to happiness.
Colleen Wilson - Project Manager + Email Marketing Specialist
As someone who commutes over an hour every day, working from home can be an essential part of my week. Battling my way from South Jersey to Conshohocken and back can be a drain mentally and physically - not to mention time consuming! Although there are benefits of being in the office, like having face-to-face meetings and using my dual-screen desk setup, I definitely find myself more productive when I work remotely.
Friends and coworkers have told me they find it difficult to work from home because they get distracted. Personally, I am the opposite! When I am at the office I find myself wanting to socialize with my awesome coworkers, needing to move around from my desk, and running out to buy lunch. At home, I can focus in on what I need to get done without those distractions.
The biggest benefit for me is that I get an extra 3 hours of my day to get things done (6 hours per week makes a huge difference!). I usually spend that time getting an extra workout in, catching up on laundry, or food prepping before I settle behind my laptop for the day. Before I began working remotely regularly, it was very overwhelming to keep up with all my homeowner duties and still be able to have fun on the weekends.
The best part of it all? Getting to snuggle my pup a little extra those days.
Erik Sjoblom - Front-End Developer
Working from home is a great modern convenience. It keeps things moving forward during bad weather, when you're not feeling well, or if there's some other obstacle preventing you from getting to the office. But how about working remotely for long periods of time? I have some insight into this since I worked 100 percent remotely for several jobs for nearly a decade. I have found there are a number pros and cons to be aware of, but most of the negatives can be offset by getting yourself into good habits.
Personally, I really enjoy working from home. Generally, I find it easier to focus in a controlled environment, and found that having the ability to prioritize interruptions helped me produce high quality work. Depending on the nature of the job, the workday can be much more flexible as well. If the job permits, there can be less pressure to get everything done during a particular time of the day.
I was also able to save time and money working remotely. Not having to spend one to two hours in traffic every day gave me five to ten extra hours every week to do things I wanted to. I typically spent less on gas, and cutting the commute put less wear on my car. Another amazing benefit was being able to work while traveling. The ability to work from anywhere allowed me to go places and do things I would not have been able to do otherwise.
There is a downside to working remotely though. You absolutely have to be responsible and self-motivated. You have to set boundaries because there are endless distractions that can work against you. For me, the lack of separation between home and work was initially one of the most difficult challenges. I found having a proper home office space was helpful for a number of reasons. Although I was able to get work done elsewhere, having a dedicated workspace kept me on track, and helped separate my work time from my personal time.
Working from home can become redundant, overly predictable, and isolating. I found it was essential to disconnect and make time for myself. Before I took these steps there was a period where I felt like I was always at work, which started to take its toll. Afterwards, I noticed that when I went out it was almost always because I wanted to, not because I had to, and I was doing fun things more often. It is also extremely important to keep a good daily routine, to get exercise, and make time to get outside during the day. That is something most people take for granted about their daily commute; getting outside and seeing the sun in the morning has a big impact over time. This is, however, easily remedied by getting out for a morning walk every day, but it requires dedication.
There are advantages to working both in and outside of the office. Either way, getting into good routines and finding a healthy work/life balance will help keep you happy and productive.