Remote Infrastructure Was Already on the Rise
Before the crises that started in 2020 and bled into 2021, remote work infrastructure was already on the rise. BYOD (Bring Your Own Device), DaaS (Device as a Service), and cloud computing were already changing the game. Employees could either bring their own laptops, or they could use options secured by a company willing to “rent” mobile devices at a monthly fee.
Regardless which particular remote infrastructure was secured, employees could work from anywhere, companies saved money on overhead by either renting hardware, or outsourcing it to employees entirely, and costs associated with the maintenance as well as expense that goes along with site rental became notably smaller. There’s a financial incentive for businesses to go the “remote” route, allowing workers to get their duties done on their own time, and in their own residence.
Accordingly, when the pandemic panic forced the issue, some companies were already there. Other companies had no choice but to justify associated costs, and that meant leaning into the expense reduction that comes with remote infrastructure. So, it should be no surprise to anyone that remote infrastructure is here to stay.
The first glimmers of such infrastructure began in the late eighties with the internet, less tech-savvy employees began being involved with such production models by the early 2000s. Just before the 2020/2021 crisis, remote workers were at an all-time high. Now, 45% of all workers operate in some sort of remote capacity, and that number will likely grow. So, the question becomes: what are the pros and cons of this operational environment? It’s not all positives, but the negatives seem to be less impacting than the advantages. Let’s explore both pros and cons here.
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Pro: Commute Elimination Impacts Motor Accidents, Cost, and Time
If you’ve only got a 5-mile commute, that’s 10 miles round trip. This comes out to 50 miles a week. Barring any holidays, for the 52 weeks in a year, that’s 2,600 miles. If you’re dealing with 80-mile round-trip commute five days a week, that’s 20,800 miles a year.
Cutting 2,600 to 20,8000 miles from your daily commute every year severely reduces your cost of living. As of 2021, the IRS estimates cost-per-mile deductions at 56 cents. Wear-and-tear, fuel, maintenance, insurance, depreciation, and incidentals factor into that cost. So that’s a collateral savings of, potentially, between $1,456 and $11,648 a year, or $121.33 to $970.66 per month.
Essentially, you’ll make more money in travel savings alone. Plus, you get the time back. A 10-mile round-trip commute will take 10 minutes to an hour a day, depending on traffic. A 40-mile round-trip commute could take anywhere from 80 minutes to 3 hours a day. Altogether, you reclaim that time, you cut associated travel costs, and you are safer from potential traffic accidents.
Con: Incidental Burnout can Impact Employee Productivity
The biggest con of at-home work has to do with employees pushing themselves too hard. They want to get their workload done every day, and managers think they can keep piling it on because employee A is so productive.
On-site, employees will slack before and after breaks, and procrastinate during hours that are supposed to be productive. At home, employees tend to get as much work done as they can to be free later in the week. This is good for the company but can burn out an employee fast.
There’s a balance to be achieved between pushing too hard, and not hard enough. If you’re not self-disciplined, getting the balance right can be hard. When you’re your own boss, nobody is as hard on you, or easy on you, as you.
Pro: A Clear Reduction in Stress, and More Flexibility
Without a long commute involving lost time, fuel, and vehicular value, you can get more things done in your day. Also, if you can get work done on your own schedule, you can shuffle community and family duties to match what you need. Altogether, these things represent a clear reduction in stress overall.
Con: Fewer Daily Human Interactions and Movement, Impacting Health
Humans are meant to be social, and when social interaction wanes, that can be bad for health overall. Also, at-home workers have no real prerogative to get out and exercise, meaning there’s a danger of sedentary health impact. If you’re working from home, discipline yourself to get out in public as much as you comfortably can, and to exercise daily.
Pro: An Expanded Opportunity for Unique Exercise
On the other hand, because employees have more time and flexibility, they can pursue more diverse means of exercise. Hiking, biking, surfing, climbing–these things are much more tangible if you’re working from home, than if you’re trying to juggle 1 to 10 hours of commute and 40 to 80 hours of work a week at a central location.
Con: A Greater Reliance on Technology Overall
Those working remotely need electricity, warmth, the internet, and bandwidth. While such costs tend to inhere to a household anyway, and are still less than a daily commute, there is an expense involved, and a reliance to consider. If local internet goes down, employee must find a coffee shop, library, or other nearby Wi-Fi access point.
Pro: Greater Pay, Availability of Staff, Better Life and Family Management
Employees save money in time and travel, so that means remote employees make more money. They’re also more available, because they’re working from home, and flexibility means managing life issues and those related to family is easier, so they’re often more satisfied with their job.
Con: Notable Levels of Loneliness, Increased Electricity and Utility Bills
Employees who don’t have a family and work alone experience more loneliness. Also, as mentioned earlier, electricity costs still apply, and employees using their own heat and water at home rather than at the office have to foot the bill.
The Pros Tend to Outweigh the Cons for Many Businesses
If you’re a sole-proprietor, or you’re a business looking to outsource office space using remote infrastructure, the pros do tend to overcome the cons–but there are cons. Those listed here just scratch the surface, though they do tend to define the industry overall. Figure out which pros and cons are specific to your business and see whether remote work is best for you. One thing is sure: the trend is here to stay, and it’s likely only going to grow.