Many people talk about the advantages of telecommuting, but there are also some major disadvantages to teleworking.
In exchange for more freedom, less stress, and no commute, you miss out on in-person collaboration and bonding with coworkers, and you may be at a disadvantage for promotions/raises if other workers are in the office each day.
Coming up, I’ll share the perks/pros of teleworking but also the main disadvantages to consider.
Telecommuting is a work arrangement where employees work from a home office or other remote location, rather than a corporate office or company-managed location.
These jobs are also referred to as teleworking positions or remote positions.
Year-over-year, telecommuting is becoming more common as it saves the company real estate and electricity costs and allows fewer interruptions for employees working for the company.
Also, some smaller tech organizations are 100% remote, and all employees are telecommuting. These companies often refer to themselves as “distributed” companies, when their entire staff is working remotely.
Advantages/Pros of Telecommuting
Telecommuting provides some major advantages, including working without a commute and therefore improved work-life balance.
You’ll likely have more flexible working hours so that you can shop, go to the gym, or do other errands mid-day instead of saving them for the evening.
However, this depends on your role, and some companies may still require that telecommuting employees be available at specific hours.
You may also have fewer distractions at home. Many workers get distracted in the office and end up socializing with team members instead of performing their own work.
At a home office, employees tend to have more privacy and quiet space to focus and think.
So if you’re someone who likes to work without much interaction, you may find yourself happier working at home, as long as you set up a great workspace in your home (this is money spent well in my experience, and your employer may even help pay for it, which is another advantage to telecommuting!)
Most people know the perks of telecommuting, though, so let’s discuss some of the downsides and disadvantages next.
Disadvantages/Cons of Telecommuting
While the benefits often outweigh the downsides of telecommuting, it’s still important to know the disadvantages. These are the cons of telecommuting.
1. Harder to build relationships with coworkers
As a telecommuter, you may miss out on socializing and bonding with your boss and team members.
You won’t be able to attend happy hours after work, casual outings, lunches, etc.
If the entire team is teleworking and not based on-site, this isn’t a big disadvantage. But if you’re the only team member who is working remotely and you’re hours away from everyone else, then it can hurt your career long-term.
It’s human nature to feel more connected when we’re actually interacting face-to-face.
However, the next best thing is video calls, so try to do this whenever possible. There’s a huge difference between a video call and a regular voice call in my experience (in terms of how personal it feels), so that’s one way to balance out this con to teleworking.
And of course, try to meet people in person when you can. There’s really no substitute for face-to-face interaction in the long term among employees.
2. Difficult for extroverts
Next in terms of disadvantages, some employees are more extroverted and use social interaction to give them energy throughout the day. These employees may feel unmotivated and discouraged when working remotely.
This disadvantage to remote working can be solved by splitting time between a home office and a coffee shop or co-working space, where employees can have some casual interaction with other workers.
However, if an employer has strict telecommuting policies that dictate workers must stay in their home office, then this disadvantage can become more serious.
3. Limited office supplies and office space
The next disadvantage of teleworking is that you may have fewer tools, technologies, and office supplies available to you.
You may also be accustomed to having plenty of office space such as spare rooms, conference rooms, etc., and you’ll lose that when switching to a home office.
So these are a few of the things that employees working from home miss out on.
You can still buy yourself supplies, though, and the employer should help pay for them in most cases.
You can buy yourself a large computer monitor and other great equipment to make your home as comfortable and productive as possible, which will mitigate some of the disadvantages here.
4. No in-person IT help
When you’re working remotely, you can’t walk down the hall to ask the IT help desk team member to come to fix your computer. So that’s one more downside to telecommuting that employees face.
Most companies will have IT staff capable of helping you remotely, so you’re not going to be entirely on your own, though. I’m simply suggesting that some fixes are a bit tougher and more frustrating when you’re not in the office interacting directly with help desk employees.
5. Harder to maintain discipline and structure
Next, remote employees need to be self-disciplined. You’ll need to set up a routine if you want to succeed.
I asked more than 50 people who work from home what their keys to success are, and 75% of them mentioned scheduling your day as either their #1 or #2 tip.
If you can’t stay disciplined, schedule your day, and stick to it, you’re going to struggle as a remote worker.
So depending on what type of habits you have and how much willpower you have, this is one of the major cons/challenges to a remote working arrangement.
If you find yourself in a remote role, and others in the company are telecommuting, too, consider asking to connect on a video call to share ideas about productivity and building a routine.
6. Data security
Lastly, any time a company is allowing employees to work remotely, there are security concerns related to company data, customer information, etc.
When you’re working in an office space, the IT team can monitor for security vulnerabilities. They’re in charge of the internet routers, file systems, etc.
But remote employees have to manage some of this on their own, at least partially. For example, you’ll likely use your home Wi-Fi for work.
Both the company and employees will need to work together to ensure that data is kept safe.
Overall, going remote, skipping your commute, and saving time each morning should lead to greater productivity, and I believe telecommuting is worth it. But the disadvantages above are worth noting.
Where to Find Telecommuting Job Listings
Now that you know the pros and cons of telecommuting, you may be wondering where you can find these jobs.
To start, we have a list of 18 remote/telecommute job boards that cover all sorts of jobs and industries.
Those are the two best resources to find telecommuting job listings online. If you have any friends or colleagues who have remote positions, ask them how they got the position, too. They may even tell you that their company is hiring!
Networking and asking questions can never hurt, and is often the fastest way to get a job.
Also, be aware that many of the jobs that end up being remote are simply listed as regular jobs online. Remote work is something that you can ask about and negotiate during the interview process. So it’s a mistake to only target positions advertised as “telecommuting jobs”.
Conclusion: Is Telecommuting Right For You?
Remote work has its challenges and drawbacks and takes time to adjust to. However, for me, and for many people I’ve talked to, the pros outweigh the cons.
I’ve been working from home (and from coffee shops and co-working spaces) for five years and absolutely love it.
There are so many advantages to telecommuting and remote work, from not needing to commute, to having more control over your day… all while avoiding unnecessary interruptions and distractions.
So in the end, it’s absolutely worth it!
I’d encourage anyone who has the opportunity to work remotely to at least give it a try! If you’re like me, you may never want to go back!