Remote work is the future of work. And, given the current climate, it’s the “present” of the working world as well.  Telecommuting in the US has seen a 115% increase in the past decade, making it one of the biggest and most consistent trends in employment – even more popular than free snacks and open-concept offices. Working from home is the way of the future, for a bunch reasons.

In fact, 70% of the entire global workforce telecommutes at least one day in a week already. And this was prior to the Coronavirus pandemic that took the world by storm in 2020.  In 2017, MarketWatch predicted that 50% of the workforce would be remote by 2020. A perfect illustration of getting the answer right, but for the wrong reasons.

We’re going to drive into why remote work is the future and why (global pandemics notwithstanding), and how you can prepare yourself for the future of work.

Why is remote work the future of work?

To put it simply, working from home is a true win-win situation for both employees and employers. And the environment too! As a worker, you’ll reap a host of benefits, from improved productivity to the best commute of your life. A remote workforce lets employers cut down significantly on overhead costs and employee retention. Let’s break it down in more detail.

How remote work benefits you

Improved Productivity

When you’re working from home, the number of interruptions drops significantly. No more water-cooler chats, “good-morning-thank-god-it’s-Friday-what-are-you-up-to-this-weekend” routine with every coworker you come into contact with. Meetings that could have been emails? They’re actually emails now. With distractions gone, employees can engage in deep work – periods of sustained focus where they lock in and get a lot done. People who work outside of the office are 13% more productive than office-bound workers. Remote workers also tend to have higher job satisfaction, which further boosts their productivity.

Remote Work Makes You Healthier

Working remote lets you maintain healthy habits. Gone are the days of catching the cold that’s hopping around the department. When you’re not packed into an office, whether you’ve got 20 or 200 coworkers, you’re less likely to get sick. And, in the case of a public health crisis, you’re easily able to shelter-in-place and continue working. Germs aside, your health will improve because remote workers experience less stress and sleep better than there onsite counterparts, according to the American Sociological Review. Goodbye rumor mill and office drama. Hello sleeping in.  And to top it all off, remote workers tend to eat better (and save money!) by making meals at home instead of paying $15 for a Cobb salad (add chicken, for +$3.00).

Better Work Life Balance

Working remotely allows you to control so much more of your life. Your schedule becomes considerably more flexible, working when it works for you. You can make a grocery run on your lunch break, schedule a doctor’s appointment, and run personal errands during breaks.  Plus, the commute is unbeatable. And less commuting means more times for things that you enjoy (like sleeping).

One important note? Remotely doesn’t have to mean working from home. Whether you’re smitten with traveling, need to move closer to family, or just want to better control your cost of living, remote work lets you do it all.

The benefits of remote work for companies

Remote Workers save money and stick around

There are so many reasons employers should be just as eager to make the switch to remote work. From a purely economical standpoint, it can save them a ton of money. On average, companies can save $11,000 per year per employee working remotely 50% of the time. A remote workforce reduces overhead costs like renting space, hiring office personnel, and maintaining an ergonomic work environment.

Employees are healthier and more productive when working remotely. That means less money spent paying out sick days and more work done per minute worked remote. But it’s about more than just money. Companies that offer remote work opportunities have happier employees too. Happy employees are less likely to quit, improving retention rates. Employees evolve with your company instead of growing out of it.

So what’s the catch?

If working from home makes things better for both workers and companies, why isn’t everyone doing it? Well there’s a couple of key concerns that remote work critics bring up.

First, it doesn’t work for everybody. Work from home detractors feel that a fully remote workforce doesn’t work for all personalities. While we agree, we’d argue that the traditional workplace doesn’t either. Extroverts and creatives often thrive working face-to-face and would miss the social work environment. But video meetings, virtual happy hours, and company retreats are all great ways to stay social and create a engaging company culture.

Second, what if employees slack off and don’t work? Companies should treat them the same as if the were blowing off their work in the office. Meet with them, try to identify the underlying cause for their lack of productivity, and implement a performance improvement plan. If they still aren’t working? They should let them go. The rest of the company will be better off for it.

How to prepare yourself for a fully remote job

So now that you know that remote work is the future of work, how can you prepare your self for it? If you’ve never worked from home before, it can be hard to get yourself into a good routine. The best thing you can do is put together a routine that works for you.

Maintain a schedule

Try to get up at the same time each morning and start work around the same time. And consider putting on pants. We’re not saying you need to wear jeans (we’re not monsters), but changing into some fresh athleisure wear works wonders. Then, spend 5 minutes jotting down your main objectives for the day and enjoy your morning caffeine intake while you catch up on emails.

Make a daily checklist

Based on your daily goals, create a checklist so you know exactly what it’ll take to accomplish what you intend to. A task list will keep you from forgetting about small but important tasks and make sure you’re on target.

Take breaks

While you want to give yourself time for deep work, you also need to give your brain a break to avoid burning out. And don’t use your break just to zone out on your phone. Go for a walk around the block, do some light stretching, or video chat with one of your fellow remote workers. You’ll stay engaged, healthy, and be more productive in the long run.

Touch base with your boss

Just because you don’t see your boss doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be connecting with them regularly. Managing remotely comes with its own set of challenges, so don’t be afraid to be proactive and reach out. Set up a regular call to go over your goals and make sure you’re hitting your targets.

The 2020 coronavirus pandemic shed light on just how many jobs can be done working from home. Access to a laptop, good Wi-Fi, and a smartphone give us the ability to do almost any job from almost anywhere. It’s time we take advantage of it and make our lives better in the process.