Remote work? For the rest of my career? Sign me up

Aeryn Kauffman, Columnist

Another day, another 24 hours of bare face and comfy clothes. I could get used to this.

There’s nothing to do outside of the house, but inside, I couldn’t be busier. There’s more homework than both my previous quarters by far, but I’m happy with remote school and work. There are things I miss. I likely learned better in person, I walked a lot more between classes, and it was nice to meet new people in passing. But there are quite a few perks to totally online school.

First, it’s way easier to show up on time. All I have to do is login to my laptop. With online classes, I don’t have to turn on my camera, either, which is great for bad hair days and no makeup days. In person, I wasn’t always in the best mood to go to class, but it’s easier to hide a bad mood by simply turning off the camera. You can’t do that in person.

You can do your school work pretty much whenever you want to. This means if I stayed up late working the night before, I don’t have to peel myself out of bed early the next day. Video lectures can be watched at double speed, paused and rewatched. No more relying on written notes of in-class lectures.

It’s also great to be at home where you can take a quick break when you need to. I’ve been cooking a lot more, too, because I don’t have to worry about commuting or being tired out from water polo practice. These past few weeks I’ve had some of the best meals all year, simply because I have the time to cook.

My feelings aren’t unusual. In a 2015 research review, remote employees experienced more work satisfaction, less stress and ironically, more productivity. Employees were actually less distracted at home than they were at their workplaces, logging four more hours than office workers.

However, one large potential downside to working remotely is social isolation, according to the American Psychological Association. For some, coworkers are their only outlets for socializing. I definitely miss socializing in person from time to time, but calls, Zoom meetings and instant messages usually fulfill my social needs.

Another potential downside to working remotely is if employers never see workers in person, they may expect more from them than office workers. A study from The Bureau of Labor Statistics showed remote employees were more likely to work overtime than office workers. Employers may have demanded more of them because the boundaries between work and home were blurred. 

Still, the benefits outweigh the downsides. You get more freedom to work at your own pace from the comfort of your own home, and you don’t have to deal with distractions from coworkers. If we can address the issues of social isolation and burnout, we should allow more employees to work fully remote. Addressing social isolation may be a case-by-case basis depending on every individual’s needs, but the burnout factor can be confronted with labor laws or company policy changes. Part of it is a perception issue, though. Everyone I know who works remotely seems to have a lot expected from them just because they don’t work in an office. If more people switch to 100% remote working, the stigma will slowly fade.

Further, more students should consider fully online school if they find this quarter has worked for them. Be careful not to overwork, though. 18 credit hours is still a full time job, even if it’s online.