Wouldn’t it be amazing to work from anywhere you’d like, to have the freedom of being the boss of your own schedule?
Approximately 15 years ago, this was just a dream for many. And not only for employees. Employers wouldn’t imagine a day when they would have productive teams and access to global talent and wouldn’t have to pay rent for an office.
What do we have now? With the current events taking place in the world, remote is the only option but it’s certainly not new. Remote work has kept on growing, with people working from cafes & co-working spaces and only needing their laptops, headphones and coffees to effectively connect with clients or companies from other countries and even other continents.
An analysis done by FlexJobs and Global Workplace Analytics found that there has been a significant upward trend in the number of people working remotely in the last few years. There was a 159% increase in remote work from 2005 to 2017 in the USA. Today 4.7 million people are working remotely.
It seems like remote work is not a trend anymore – it’s here to stay. So what do we mean when we say working remotely?
Remote Work And Its Types
We get up in the morning from the sound of our alarm, shower, eat, and head to work. This is the traditional way. Remote work, also known as telework, is an arrangement where employees don’t have to commute to a place of work (office, store, warehouse). Instead, they can get the job done from wherever they desire. On the other hand, there are virtual companies, who enjoy the perks of their unlimited access to global talent, with no overheads, and continuous growth.
With this said, there are different types of remote work. To paint a clear picture, let’s take the example of Jill. She’s a 25-year-old UX designer, with an imaginative mind and a productive work ethic. The freedom that comes from working remotely lets Jill be more creative in her work. Let’s see how Jill would work with each type of remote work.
In case of a fully remote position, Jill gets the chance to only work from home – or a co-working space, whichever she wants. In this case, Jill never has to visit the company’s physical location.
In the last few years, fully remote work has become even more common. The shift occurred once companies realized they could have access to global talent if they allow people from all over to apply to open positions.
When it comes to having a flexible job, Jill gets some flexibility regarding her schedule or work location, and sometimes for both. What does this mean? Jill’s employer may require her to work from the physical location of the company some days of the week and let her choose where to work from for the rest of the days. Or the employer may give Jill the freedom of working half of her workday from the office and let her get some fresh air and motivation for the rest of the day while working in a beautiful cafe.
So what is it like to work remotely?
We’ve decided to put together the thoughts and experiences of our employees. Let’s consider the good, the bad, and the ugly of working remotely.
The Good: Benefits of Working Remotely For Employees
When it comes to the good aspects of remote work, we all think of flexibility, freedom, and independence. Overall, those are true but there’s more.
You Can Travel the World And Work Without Distractions
Ilaria Zhurina, who is a People Operations Coordinator at Scopic’s for 3+ years now, thinks that the ability to travel and be able to schedule and maintain her working hours is an advantage for telework. The most crucial benefit of working remotely for Ilaria is the freedom and independence she has.
In fact, our Recruiting Manager Jade Lansing thinks that international travel opportunities are one of the biggest advantages of remote work.
“We’ve had meetups everywhere from the beaches of the Canary Islands to the cozy bars in Siberia.”
The latter is also true for Thong Nguyen, a Project Manager of 5+ years at Scopic. Thong summed up the good about working remotely, saying:
“Concentrating. I feel more focused when working remotely, which helps me increase my productivity a lot. I love working remotely, I have colleagues around the world: US, Colombia, UK, Spain, Serbia, Bulgaria. I learned a lot about different cultures: it feels like travelling around the world without the need of a physical move. Working remotely helps me improve my skills of independent-working and problem-solving. Also, I can self manage my time; I can travel anywhere I’d like and still work.”
The ability to travel the world is something we all wish for. And usually, we are unable to do so because for at least 11 months we need to be in an office. But remote employees are lucky like that.
One thing that is true and is a struggle for most people is concentrating when in an office with a lot of buzz and chit-chat, where you get interrupted from other employees who have a lot of questions.
Levon Tamaryan, a Technical Lead at Scopic for more than 5 years, said:
“It’s more comfortable to work remotely. I usually can’t concentrate in crowded areas.”
You Can Manage Your Own Time
One of the most significant and most obvious benefits of working remotely for employees is flexibility and the freedom of managing your own time. Who wouldn’t want to have that?
Borislav Yordanov, Scopic’s Technical Lead specializing in AWS Cloud, surely does.
“In my opinion, the biggest plus of working remotely is the ability to have flexible working hours and the lack of strict control over your working process. This gives you freedom to show the best of your performance.”
When you remove the strict discipline out of the equation, people’s creative juices start to flow. And Borislav is not the only one thinking so. Marine Hakobyan, a marketing specialist who’s been working remotely at Scopic for over a year now, shared her thoughts:
“Working remotely is very comfortable. You can choose your own working hours and basically be the boss of your schedule when working remotely. If you have a doctor’s appointment or have to meet a friend in town, you don’t have to worry about begging your boss for a few hours of leave. You can easily do your own things when necessary and work during the hours of the day that are more convenient for you. It is perfect, especially for people like me who don’t like being controlled too much.”
And it has been proven that especially when it comes to creative work, controlling employees does not pay off. Take a look at this: Richard Florida’s Creative Class work categorized jobs by those who require independent judgment, decision making, and idea generation. He found that nearly 77% of worldwide jobs require little to none of these three creative acts. This means that their creativity is not being tapped. Why? Because employers control their employees and leave no place for independence.
You Can Work On Various Projects With Different People
Apart from the obvious benefits of working remotely for employees, there is one advantage that you might not have thought of. What happens to most people when they work for a very long time in the same organization, is they get used to the workflow, to their clients, to the topics and the projects they work on: they have no new challenges.
The latter brings us to Scopic’s software developer Zviadi Varshanidze’s quote:
“One of the benefits of remote work is learning something new every day by communicating with smart people around the globe. The good thing about Scopic is you might end up working on projects from very different disciplines and different contractors from all over the world.
Chances are, if you’re working in a remote company, you’ll be working with clients from everywhere. And you’ll get the chance to learn about different cultures, which is always exciting.
Scopic’s Recruiting Manager, Jade Lansing, had a similar thought:
“A truly global environment, from the comfort of your couch. Daily, you might collaborate with people in 15 or 20 countries, creative ideas from different backgrounds, a network of team members from around the world.”
The Bad: Downsides of Working Remotely
Now it’s time to read about the “bad” aspects of remote work – just like in everything else in life, remote work comes with its downsides.
You Need Tools To Manage Everything
One thing that a lot of remote companies implement in their work is time tracking. That’s how they can keep track of the work done and see the productivity of their employees. But time tracking does not always come easy for everybody. It can be distracting or stressful.
“Time tracking is something a lot of people struggle with. Scopic has developed an internal tool that makes this easier. Many remote employers still require you to be in a specific location or time zone, but Scopic brings qualified talent from very remote corners of the world in nearly every time zone. (Shout out to anyone interested in joining our team from the Pacific Islands, we don’t have anyone in GMT-10 yet),” says Jade. So if you’re listening to her, people from the Pacific Islands, hurry to apply.
Moreover, employers need the right tools (besides time trackers) to be able to properly manage their virtual teams. They just need to find what is right for their company and their team.
You Might Feel Isolated
Most people who work 9-to-5 jobs dream about remote work. They spend their whole day communicating with other human beings and get drained. A day at home with no mandatory conversations with anyone seems like heaven. But once you’ve done it for a while, it feels different.
“If you work remotely for a long time, you start to feel isolated from people and sometimes can feel uncomfortable in crowded places. Sometimes, it can also be hard to keep motivation on the same high level,” says Ilaria.
And it’s true. When we spend too much time alone, we forget what basic human interaction feels and looks like. In fact, most of our employees think that the one downside of remote work is the lack of social interaction.
You Can Have a Hard Time When Brainstorming With a Team
As they say, one mind is good, but two is better. Brainstorming is needed in almost everyone’s work. And when it comes to remote work, brainstorming can be a challenge.
“It is harder to sync with your team when you are not in the same room looking at the same whiteboard. Brainstorming is harder because of the same reasons, which leads to having more than one meeting to get on the same page with everyone on the team,” Borislav said. And he’s not the only one.
Ivan Markiv, an experienced QA at Scopic, also thinks that the downside of remote work is the lack of communication. “Because face-to-face interaction is generally lost, video conferencing can sometimes offset this. But it’s not a perfect replacement.” But this is part of how remote companies work.
You Don’t Know When And Where To Work From
The idea of earning money while sitting in your house, on your own couch is thrilling. But what if you have a family and kids?
“Working from home is challenging when you have a family and children. The problem can be mitigated by renting or building an office space if you can afford it,” says Zviadi.
Let’s say we solved that issue. There’s another one remote workers have: when to work. Even if you set realistic hours for yourself, you might have to chat with a team member that is 12 hours ahead of you. “People are in different time zones which makes meeting arrangements harder,” sums up Borislav.
The Ugly: difficult aspects of remote work
And now, let’s learn about the ugly side of remote work. Be sure that part of Scopic’s culture is trusting our employees and making sure they feel safe at their workplace.
You Might Be Monitored Via Video
When you work in an office, your boss can see you whenever they want and check what you’re doing at the moment. So there is no issue of trust. But when it comes to remote companies, trust can be hard to come by.
Even though this is not true for Scopic, this is an issue that usually arises when companies don’t know how to properly work with a remote staff or are just starting the process and feel unsure. “Some companies use video monitoring to confirm that their employees are actually working. It can create quite an invasive and not a very comfortable work environment,” concludes Jade.
You Might Not Get Paid
You’ve heard the stories. You know how freelancing and working for early-stage startups can be unreliable. You’re putting all your hopes in them succeeding and being decent people. This usually happens more with freelancers. What helps is checking out reviews for the companies before starting to work with them.
“We’ve heard many stories of people not getting paid for months at a time, or struggling to find reliable freelance clients. Working for an established company like Scopic insulates you from these challenges, so you can focus on enjoying the freedom of remote work,” says Jade.
We have a real-life story for you from Oleg Chepurko, a 3D graphics developer at Scopic, about his previous remote work outside of Scopic:
“I worked as a freelancer, and I did some work for a client in the summer of 2016. The client didn’t pay me, saying that he has some bank issues. I didn’t send him the assets, only a video proving that my work is done. To my surprise, he sent my payment on Christmas (after half a year). This came for me in a perfect time and let me have a better Christmas.”
You Might Lose Track of Time and Have Sleepless Nights
When without supervision, it’s easy to lose track of time, decide to go out with friends, and leave your tasks for later. But since you can’t miss deadlines and be unreliable, you’ll use those sleepless nights to get the job done. Marine knows about this best:
“Remote work can be stressful sometimes. In a way that you may struggle to find a healthy working schedule for you or get distracted easily. You might end up having less time for work during a day, which can result in sleepless nights just to cover the missed working hours.”
Martha, who’s a project manager at Scopic, also shares the same thoughts:
“You have to be very organized and focused to not lose the track of time and to know when to stop the working day.”
Now that you know everything there is to know about what it’s like to work remotely, you can decide if it’s for you or not. And as one of the best designers at Scopic Eugen Lapshin says, “there is always a lot of remote work, don’t forget to live”.