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Remote work has become somewhat of an ultimate journey of the 21st century – a land where one finds true freedom, peacefulness, and inner comfort. In the USA alone, 50% of workers do their jobs remotely, and the number keeps climbing. According to an AND CO survey, 55% of telecommuters work remotely full time, 28% are split between the office and home, while 15% work mostly in the office.
It’s true, remote work offers a variety of benefits: increased productivity, flexibility and even lower stress levels.
The trend is not losing its pace and companies are creating more and more remote opportunities for their employees, especially in the IT & Content & Design sectors. In a State of Software Development Survey, 75% of respondents said that working remotely was allowed at their company.
However, everything comes at a price. Loneliness, collaboration issues and struggles in finding work/life balance are often reported as major drawbacks to a seemingly perfect gig.
There are people who already are switching back to working in the office due to certain circumstances or because they prefer it. In this article, I interview several of my ex-colleagues and learn about their experiences after the switch.
What Made You to Shift from Remote Work Back to the Office?
Nikita, a front-end developer, Cyprus
I relocated with my family to another country, and changing a job was part of the relocation. It happened to be that my new job was on-site, but I didn’t mind it at all because experiencing a new country was more important to me than keeping my job remote.
Olya, back-end programmer, Moscow, Russia
I wanted to go back to the office. I worked at home for 3 years, and it took its toll. I felt isolated, and it was increasingly hard to switch from work to rest. As soon as I secured the new on-site job in another city, I moved there.
Anya, consultant, UAE
I moved to Dubai and since then I’ve worked exclusively in the office. Prior to that, I worked remotely for a few years. There are not many remote jobs here in Dubai, and I miss some benefits of the remote job, but I enjoy the benefits of the office as well.
What Are The Benefits of Working In The Office For You?
It’s very motivating to work in the office, as everyone is working around you. The biggest benefits would be co-workers. Also, it’s helpful to have my boss nearby to ask questions whenever. The office gives me this work & life balance – when I leave it I completely switch off.
I’d say personal communications. Oh, and tasty coffee.
You come to the office and you work, everyone does. I have to prepare myself for the job – makeup, clothing, getting ready to see people. So after working hours I can go and hang out and have some fun. When I was working remotely, by the end of the day all I had was pajamas and a hairdo of a survival show finalist. And I was exhausted. So the natural instinct was to spend the rest of the day at home, shunning society.
Do You Feel More Productive At The Office?
Yes and no. You have plenty of motivation in the office environment, but once in a while, you’re punching the clock. Some things you just do a bit longer because you gotta be in the office till 6. I’m not sure if that is specific to the office, though, especially when time-tracking software is used in remote gigs. I guess it has more to do with what tasks you’re assigned.
It depends. If you have an interesting task, a good work & rest routine, and rigid self-discipline, you can be productive while working at home. You just need to constantly control yourself. I did it for three years, and then I just kind of let it loose. I grew tired of sitting at home, tired of the project, and my motivation drastically decreased – to the point that I often couldn’t concentrate at all.
Is There Anything You Miss About Remote Work?
Well, the usual things: no traffic, no open space, no cold epidemic… Also, remote work is calmer. However, since my son was born recently, I’m not that sure about that anymore.
I miss flexibility. Taking time off if you don’t feel well or need to go somewhere is far easier in the remote environment. There’s a bit of paperwork involved to do that at my current job.
I miss spending time with my dog, watching Netflix, not wearing pants… Managing my time however I want. A lot of things.
Would You Go Back to Working Remotely if Your Current Boss Allowed That?
Erm. Maybe half the week. I would miss the company and my colleagues.
I recently secured one remote day every week. My team seems pretty skeptical about how it will affect my productivity though, as some people associate it with a day-off or something. I tend to disagree. You can be just as productive at home. In fact, I think a remote-friendly company with a stand-alone office is the best option. All the processes are remote-optimized, and at the same time, you have a place to work on-site.
It would be great to have a few remote days, but the culture of remote work is currently more developed among startups rather than in mature, established companies. I hope it changes with time.
It seems like remote work is not a final destination. While it offers an array of benefits, each of those has their own shortcomings, drawing people back into offices.
While remote employees will mostly struggle to find work & life balance, employers will be looking for office & remote balance in their operations. I believe that while the trend may feel like people want to work from home, their real desire is to simply have more control over their own life.
The remote work field is relatively new, and I’m sure we’ll see a lot of services and maybe even methodologies that allow workers to enjoy the benefits of both environments while sustaining or even exceeding current productivity expectations.
About the author: Andrew started at Icons8 as a usability specialist, conducting interviews and usability surveys. He desperately wanted to share his findings with our professional community and started writing insightful and funny (sometimes both) stories for our blog.
Title image by Ranganath Krishnamani
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