Working remotely – basically working from somewhere other than a traditional office – is becoming increasing popular with both individuals and companies. In fact, at the start of this year, The New York Times reported on a Gallup survey that stated that 43% of working Americans now spend at least some of their time working remotely. At Treehouse, 52 members (which is the majority)of our team work remotely full-time from cities across the US (and even as far as the UK). We can also confidently say that the remote aspect of our company has contributed to our culture and our success.
There are a lot of perks to working remotely, whether it’s in a largely remote company like Treehouse, as a part-time opportunity from your office job, or as a freelancer. Based on our experience over the last 7 years, here are 7 reasons we recommend you consider working remotely.
1. Explore as a digital nomad
Working remotely gives you a great deal of freedom, so if an agile workspace appeals to you, working remotely is the best way to make that happen. Provided you’re able to commit to working the hours required for your role, theoretically you can work from absolutely anywhere, all you need is stable internet. At Treehouse, some of our employees have chosen to work while traveling or spend time living abroad. This sometimes means staggering their hours to overlap with our regular US hours to allow for meetings, but in large part, the culture of our team and the tools we use facilitate the digital nomad lifestyle.
2. Embrace the flexibility
While you’re working remotely, you’re able to make decisions that work for you. You’re often able to create your own schedule in terms of how you approach your daily tasks and responsibilities. This can help increase productivity and efficiency. For digital nomads, this can be valuable, but it’s even more so for parents. At Treehouse, 48 of our team members are parents (which is more than half of the company). Due to the remote nature of the team, this allows for parents to make adjustments to their daily schedule that work around their families and routines. For example, that might mean an earlier start to the day with an earlier finish, leaving more time to spend with their kids after school.
3. Harness the tools that make a remote company culture
Although remote teams may be physically spread out, the increased popularity of the remote structure means there are an abundance of tools that help teams work productively and build a strong company culture. At Treehouse, we use Zoom for all of our video conferencing, and we spend a significant part of our week in face-to-face meetings and work sessions. Another fundamental tool for us is Slack, which we use to communicate with one another, to coordinate on team projects, and to chat on our company-wide channel.
Slack also offers a great place for the bonding aspects of our company’s culture. We have channels like “Remote Work Tips”, where we can share challenges and advice, and “Props”, a channel dedicated to acknowledging and celebrating colleagues for the great work they do to reflect our company values. What’s more, Slack has an impressive and growing number of 3rd party apps that are integrated into the tool, including Zoom, Google Drive, JIRA and InVision (all valuable collaboration tools that we use daily at Treehouse).
For more on Treehouse’s remote culture, check out this post by our CEO and co-founder, Ryan Carson.
4. Choose your ideal working environment
If you’re not drawn to the full digital nomad lifestyle, working remotely still gives you the opportunity to find or create the perfect work environment for you. That might be a home office, a co-working space or a local cafe. In many cases, remote companies will even offer a budget towards setting up your home office or working in a co-working space. Personally, after years of experience, my work space is a combination of all of the above with an office at home, a pay-as-you-go hot desking membership at a local co-working space, and the occasional afternoon spent working from my local coffee shop.
5. Find your focus
Whichever remote working environment you choose, the assumption is you’ll be working somewhere that has less distractions, allowing you to be more productive. Being in control of your working day with limited external influences, will naturally help you find your focus to complete projects and tasks. Although your teammates will never be hard to reach with the convenience of tools like Slack and Zoom, you may find your self reliance increases and as a result the time you spend meeting with colleagues is more focused and productive. In fact, the same New York Times and Gallup survey mentioned earlier uncovered that people who work remotely 60% to 80% of their time have the highest rates of engagement (compared to people who work full time in an office alongside their colleagues). In my personal experience, when you don’t get to see your colleagues every day from 9-5, you’ll enjoy the virtual time you do spend with them even more.
6. Expand your job search
One of the reasons so many companies are onboard with remote work is that it allows them to attract talent that wouldn’t otherwise be accessible. The same applies to you. When you start to look at remote positions, you’re no longer restricted by your city or commuting distance. Most remote positions will specify if they require applicants to be in a specific timezone or country, but that could still mean you live in New York and work for a company with an HQ in Portland. Remote work removes that artificial boundary, opening up the opportunities to find the perfect position for you. What’s more, remote companies today often offer increasing competitive packages and benefits to attract the right talent to their teams.
7. Save time (and money)
Now we come to the most practical of the perks, the fact that you’ll save both on precious time and money if you work remotely. When it comes to time, there’s the obvious: no longer do you have to endure a grinding and exhausting commute. Or if you work at a co-working space, you can choose to always travel outside of rush hour. It’s also almost impossible to be late for work, which works in your company’s favor. Closely tied to saving time is saving money. As a remote employee, you’ll save on the cost of a commute, the premium cost of buying snacks and lunch five times a week (as you can rustle something up at home) and even – depending on your industry – you may even save on the cost of an office wardrobe!
Those are some of the greatest perks of working remotely, but it’s important to also mention that there are challenges to remote work. Tune in next week for a roundup of the greatest ones we’ve experienced at Treehouse, and our (tried and tested) recommendations for how to overcome them.