When we switched from being in office to working from home full time, there was a heavy sense of doubt around how effective our remote work would be. Many (including me) had never worked remotely at all before. That switch seemed to be quite intimidating as we all were independently responsible for our productivity in an environment that was often reserved for our relaxation. Now that we have been forced to work from home for almost a year, there are several benefits I have discovered during this season of remote work. I’ll outline 5 of my favorite benefits below.
Do we really miss the days of sitting in rush hour traffic, patiently waiting for someone (anyone) to actually drive? I certainly don’t. I know someone who drove an hour and a half just to get to work. Imagine driving 3 hours every day just to go to work! Now that we are confined to our houses, the daily commute is from our bed to wherever our workstation is located. This means more time for sleeping, cleaning, childcare or, in my case, making homemade lattes with my new espresso machine. The amount of money we can all save on gas, stopping for coffee, and other pre/post work activities is fantastic!
This shorter commute also makes the post-work ritual much easier. With the flexibility that remote work provides in structuring your day, you can get a jump on certain nighttime tasks like preparing dinner. Whether starting a pot of water to boil for pasta or putting something in the oven, the shorter commute helps you complete these tasks while you’re still energized and productive from the day instead of tired and ready to relax after an annoyingly frustrating drive home.
Virtual meetings are more convenient not only in terms of location, but inclusivity as well. Instead of having to gather in a conference room, you can pop in and out of a video chat as needed. Meeting virtually also makes it easier to talk with coworkers from other departments, or even other branches, within the company. This has been a major benefit here at Summit as we continue to expand into different regions and markets. Some employees used to drive 45 minutes for weekly meetings at another branch. Meeting remotely cuts out that driving time and allows more time for actual conversation. As the sole member of my department in my office, I especially appreciate our remote weekly meetings that allow me to see everyone. It leaves each coworker on the same playing field; no one feels left out if they are the only person attending the meeting remotely.
Interviewing just got easier both for hiring managers and potential candidates. Managers now have a much bigger pool of potential employees they can hire from because they don’t need to factor in a commute or proximity to the office. Similarly, anyone who is interviewing for a new position doesn’t need to worry about having to constantly disrupt their workday at their current job to leave the office and go to an interview. Instead, they can turn on their webcam at home, attend the interview, and get back to work. For new hires, the onboarding process becomes a bit easier because it removes a lot of pressure of the first day of work. How intimidating can a first day at a new job be when you are attending from the comfort of your own home?
Everybody must miss work at some point. Whether it’s going to a doctor’s appointment, picking up kids from school or daycare, or getting your car worked on, life happens. Now that we are working remotely, instead of missing a chunk of your workday to complete these tasks, we have the luxury of doing our work after hours, from the comfort of our homes. This allows us to make up for lost time without being stuck alone in the office at night or being unable to access your workspace.
Given the intimate nature of having meetings from our homes, the elements of our personal lives are more prominently on display than usual. You can see the posters in people’s homes, the general style and feeling of their decorations, their invasive and attention seeking pets (anyone that meets with me will see my big fat needy cats), kids in the background, family pictures on the wall – the list goes on. This naturally allows us to get to know our coworkers on a more personal level than we would have solely in an office environment.
During these strange times, it is easy to focus on everything we have lost due to the pandemic. Loss of face-to-face contact with loved ones and coworkers or the loss of favorite pastime activities like going out to dinner or seeing a movie (not to mention office happy hours) are cultural norms we miss more each day. That is why it is important to see the positives, even during a pandemic. For many of us, this time of working remotely is the first time this benefit has been available to us. The pandemic has changed a lot of the ways in which we live and work. Many of the positions that previously were thought to not be possible at home are now executed flawlessly daily. Our adaptability to this change has opened our collective minds to the possibility of new ways of working. It is this adaptability that we have to keep in mind as we continue to work from home. Not only are we making it work but we are flourishing. Let’s keep our mind focused on the benefits and enjoy being able to attend work in our pajamas for a little while longer!
Hannah recently joined the Summit Staff as a Marketing Assistant, and works in our Richmond office. She primarily focuses on proposals and other writing tasks. She was originally born in Richmond but grew up in Charlottesville before moving back to Richmond to attend Virginia Commonwealth University. Outside of work she enjoys biking, baking, books, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer.