The advantages and disadvantages of remote work

Remote work, i.e., working outside a workplace usually by means of advanced computer technologies, is very popular nowadays, especially among young people. Sometimes, it is also referred to as teleworking. Women, shortly after giving birth to a child, are

Remote work, i.e., working outside a workplace usually by means of advanced computer technologies, is very popular nowadays, especially among young people. Sometimes, it is also referred to as teleworking. Women, shortly after giving birth to a child, are the ones who most often decide to take up this kind of job. As they do not want to leave their loved one without care, and as they cannot quit their job, they decide on a compromise and turn towards the option of remote working. The biggest tendency of taking up this kind of job by young mothers can be seen at the U.S. job market.

Approximately every third office worker decides to switch from working at a workplace to teleworking. Though such way of working is still not very popular in Poland, it is highly probable that this will change as more and more people have been showing interest in teleworking recently.

What is remote working all about?

In Poland, the definition of remote work, or teleworking, can be found in the law regulation from the 24th of September 2007. The regulation refers to the changes of the Civil Code (Polish: Ustawa z dnia 24 sierpnia 2007 roku o zmianie ustawy Kodeks Pracy.). The law was passed on the 16th of October 2007. If we refer back to the content of this law, we find that telework is a type of work which is done regularly, outside a workplace, by means of specified ways of electronic communication – mainly the Internet. This is not the only law that, in a way, describes remote work. In the law regulation from the 18th of July regarding the provision of services via electronic means (Polish: Ustawa z dnia 18 lipca 2002 roku o świadczeniu usług drogą elektroniczną), we find that the methods of electronic communication include all technological solutions, e.g., teleinformatic devices and related software that make it possible to individually communicate across long distances by means of data exchange between teleinformatic systems, especially, emails.

Teleworking should be perceived as a regular type of work. Furthermore, it may concern only those employees who have an employment contract with their employer. Therefore, one cannot engage in teleworking if one has a business order and not an employment contract. The self-employed do not engage in teleworking as well. Who is a teleworker then? It is a person employed on an employment contract who performs his professional duties at home, outside a workplace, and who sends the results of his work to his employer by means of electronic communication.

Why teleworking?

It has to be stated that there are many various reasons why people decide to take up remote work. Women have different motivations than men. Let us first discuss the reasons why women take up teleworking.

If a woman decides to take up remote work, she is most probably a young mother. Most women do not even consider parting with their children after their 5 month maternity leave, or even a 3 year long upbringing leave. They prefer to unite the possibility of earning money with their maternal duties, though this is not an easy task. One has to be self-disciplined and very well organized if teleworking and family life are to coexist together without any major clashes.

Remote work makes it possible to fulfill both professional duties and family responsibilities. The other thing is that women who want to return to work from their maternity leave sometimes experience problems. Employers have no intention of creating adequate conditions that would allow their women employees to reconcile work with motherhood. Though such discrimination is fiercely rejected by the society, it still exists. Many women who come back from maternity leave are demoted to some lower positions at work, or have their competences decreased, and, in consequence, their payment as well. In order to avoid such unpleasant situations, women decide to take up teleworking. Thanks to this method, employers do not have to change the working patterns at their companies. The tasks are still performed by a well qualified group of specialists.

Maternity is not the only reason for the choice of remote work. It happens sometimes that a woman simply loves her work and that it is her source of self-fulfillment. This can motivate her to switch to remote working. Such shift would allow her to spend as much time on her passion as possible. In such a case, teleworking is a woman’s individual choice. Man may have a similar motivation when they choose this kind of work.

The disadvantages of teleworking

Remote work has its light and dark sides. First, we provide the disadvantages related to teleworking. They are as follows:

Working outside a certain type of social system – teleworkers do not have direct contact with their supervisors and coworkers. They can feel alienated after some time. Such alienation can negatively influence the results of their remote work. An employee can even have the impression that he became a slave at his own home. He can also feel stripped of the informal everyday contact with his coworkers, i.e., coffee brakes, or chats during meals. I order to minimize this negative effect, a teleworker has to interact with his own friends as often as possible. He should also spend some time on informal chatting during his visits at work. What is interesting, as teleworking does not oblige an employee to look good, it can lead to untidiness. A person may not put on his or her clothes and spend an entire day in front of the computer dressed in pajamas or a nightgown.

The need for organized work – the lack of some control over work can be a blessing for some, and a nightmare for others, especially for those who have problems with self-organization. Sometimes, the lack of appropriate control and someone in command can lead to a decrease in efficiency. A high degree of self-motivation is essential to make teleworking effective. There is a great need for self-reliance, responsibility, and consistency.

The necessity for effective time management – if a teleworker does not have the ability to organize his time properly, it may turn out that instead of working for 6 or 8 hours it takes him 12 or 14 to complete his task. Remote work can be extended throughout an entire day and several hours at night. One has to have a high degree of self-discipline to stick to the timetable.

The problem of setting up a border between professional and family life – it is hard to focus on a job when children are running around the house, dinner is burning in the oven, and some neighbor makes a lot of noise. Many people think that if they work at home, they might as well do all the household chores at the same time. There should be a clear dividing line between work and family life. We should stick to the idea that, though we are physically at home, we are at work, and nobody should burden us with any other tasks.

The advantages of teleworking

Judging by the fact that more and more people decide to take up remote work, one might come to the conclusion that for these workers this type of money earning has more advantages than disadvantages. Some of the advantages of teleworking are as follows:

The comfort of working – remote work is comfortable because we spend time at home, so in favorable conditions. Additionally, one can do his or her work while sitting in a favorite easy chair and listening to favorite music. There is no need for formal clothing. Women do not have to prepare make-up while men do not have to shave. Our boss cannot constantly keep his eye on us, so we can freely chat with a friend or play with our dog if we feel like doing so. As teleworking does not require us to be physically present at a workplace, we might be employed by a company that is placed in a different city, a remote province, or even a totally different country. Remote working is also one of the best methods of money earning for the disabled, as they do not have to struggle every day through the streets to reach their workplace.

The ability to combine work with other duties – if we are good at time management, we can combine professional duties with household activities, e.g., childcare.

No need for going to work – teleworking helps save a lot of time as we do not have to walk, drive, or commute to reach our workplace. Additionally, we do not have to spend money on gasoline or tickets for public transportation.

No direct supervision – this option is very important for many people as it ensures psychological comfort. Nobody is going to shout on us, at least not directly. There is always the option of emailing or telephone communication.

The possibility to adjust the timetable to individual needs – one can begin work early, e.g., at 5 or 6 a.m., and finish at 1 p.m., at the time when many people are about to begin their work. The standard working conditions characteristic for many workplaces do not allow for such timetables. Similarly, we can leave our work for evenings and spend mornings and afternoons on household chores, childcare or our interests and pleasures.

Remote work has its advantages and disadvantages. It is up to an individual, with all his preferences, abilities and demands, to see whether or not teleworking will prove to be a good way of performing professional duties. Before taking up remote work, one should carefully analyze whether or not this method of money earning will prove to be profitable or not. The division of work could prove to be a satisfactory compromise. One could choose, e.g., 3 days of teleworking and 2 days at work at the office.

We also have to consider if our professional duties can be carried out outside our office at all. It may not be possible in all cases, however, most office duties should not pose a problem in this matter. Self discipline, responsibility, and good time and work organization are crucial to make teleworking successful. If we master those qualities, our work will prove to be effective, and we will have time for our everyday family life.