COVID-19: The impact of Coronavirus on Remote Work (and our lives)
The world is living in challenging times. The coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak is having a huge impact on our lives. Everyone had to adapt the way they work, and, even simpler than that, the way they behave in society, in order to keep themselves and their families safe.
(Luckily) The technology nowadays is able to keep many jobs active with little efforts in times of a worldwide pandemic. We always knew Remote Work was going to be a reality in the future. We just never imagined it would be so soon, and for such a tragic reason. Let’s break down what has changed and what will be the impact of this virus on our lives.
The world has been forced to work from home
Let’s keep on the positive side here. Many businesses were forced into remote work and millions of employees are experiencing work flexibility, zero time lost in commuting and proximity to the family while they work. And this is not happening only for small businesses, it is also being incorporated by the largest ones all over the world.
Both huge and small businesses are encouraging remote work. In some industries, it may be temporary, but for many others, this firsthand proof of the benefits of remote work will be enough to build a remote work culture in the organisation and may not want to go back.
“We’ll never probably be the same. People who were reticent to work remotely will find that they really thrive that way. Managers who didn’t think they could manage teams that were remote will have a different perspective. I do think we won’t go back.” – Jennifer Christie, Twitter’s head of human resources in BuzzFeedNews
The world stopped commuting
Commuting to and from work takes up a lot of people’s time. The average commute time in Lisbon is 163 hours per year which is approximately 1 hour per workday (Source: TomTom Traffic Index). And Lisbon is the only 81st in the world’s rank. This is precious time you could be spending at home with your family, exercising, relaxing, walking your dog. Apart from the fact that the daily commute also costs you money. Airtasker surveyed 1,004 full-time employees across the U.S. and reported that when compared with office employees, remote workers saved $4,523.04 on fuel each year.
Pollution dropped and the world is breathing again
Pollution and greenhouse emissions had a humongous drop all over the planet. China had an overall decrease of 25% on emissions, the Himalayas mountains are visible from India for the first time in decades and satellites have detected that highly urbanized areas are cooler than ever.
This happens not only because the world stopped commuting but also because many factories were forced to stop. These environmental benefits are far from realistic but are a good sample of how remote work can affect our planet. We can only hope this air breeze serves as an example and lead to more persistent changes.
Employers mindset has forcefully been shifted towards online work
“Not one – not one! – study suggests that working in an office eight hours a day, five days a week maximizes employee productivity, satisfaction, or performance.” Forbes
Flexible work has been on the rise for a few years already and several studies (Example by Business News Daily) have proved that remote workers are more productive, satisfied and engaged. Not only will you be more productive for your company, but they will also save a lot of money on office expenses. Forbes reports CBRE’s estimates that the typical company in the U.S. spends upward of $12,000 per employee per year for office space.
If you are an employee, this crisis is your chance. During the forced office closure due to Coronavirus, you can prove your company how reliable and productive you are remote while they could potentially be saving money. They might embrace remote work!
Read also: 10 Remote Work Hacks and Tricks
Remote work breaks free of geographic limitations
Remote work companies don’t need to hire locally. Remote workers don’t have to limit applications to the companies around a certain area or in a city where they live. It also means that you don’t have to move to a new neighborhood or city to continue advancing your career. Imagine a company being able to hire the best talent worldwide instead of being limited to a restricted area.
True, it also means there is a lot more competition. But there are so many more options and it is unavoidable that skills will be more valuable than a geographical location. It really just allows you and the companies to find the perfect fit.
This is a key factor to keep in mind as we wait for the Coronavirus crisis to be over.
Remote work generates more family time
Remote work greatly improves our freedom in working hours and location. You know that dance class you couldn’t make it to on time? The dentist appointment that you had to take your son to but were running late? The unwell mother you wanted to check in on twice a day but only managed twice a week? All that changes with a remote work culture.
Of course, with this virus, conditions are a bit different… But imagine having control over your time and how you spend your days. Imagine the impact remote work can have in millions of families and how more present can many parents be.
Most employers don’t care when you get the work done as long as you get it done by their deadline. Instead of a coffee break with colleagues, people can now share breaks with their partners or go for a 20 min playtime outside with their children. Of course, it is a new challenge, but otherwise, all these moments would be lost. Not to mention again the time lost in commuting to and from work.
Be careful though not to lose track of your work needs. Experienced remote workers recommend having a clear office space and office hours and communicating it clearly with the other members of your household. COVID-19 has forced you to work from home. Take advantage of it!
Remote work lead to more active and healthy lives
When you work from home it is way easier to fit your own exercise routine in your daily schedule.
Due to Coronavirus, we can’t go outside and all sport classes are canceled. However, since we are locked at home is vital for our mental health to exercise daily as even just a few minutes a day can really help our inner peace. There are a lot of great online resources such as online channels, apps and groups to help you with indoor alternatives. We regularly use Fitness Blender for workouts and Yoga with Adriene for Yoga.
Being stuck inside is an oppressive Coronavirus limitation but it is not (at all) part of the remote worker lifestyle. Indeed Inc. reports that remote workers are able to maintain healthier lifestyles than the office employees, as they clock an extra 25 minutes of physical activity each week.
Related: How to Practice Yoga at Home
Taking care of your house has never been easier
Household chores are a challenge to many people, especially if you don’t want to ruin your days off. That extra time and flexibility that remote work delivers, can be used to go grocery shopping or to cook the meals you want (we could still be better here if we planned better our days). The laundry basket is no longer always full to the brim.
Pro tip: You can even use household chores to break down your day. Don’t use them to procrastinate though. Hubspot suggests using laundry cycles as work cycles and committing to finishing something at that time. Remote work leads to more free time and healthy lives, but cooking a delicious 5-star gourmet dinner is not a smarter use of your time. Unless you are a chef and you are producing online content (in which case, we would love to collaborate with you!).
Work online from your hometown
The COVID-19 outbreak has been an eye-opener for many workers that left family and friends behind and moved to a new city or country for work. Many workers are now locked down away from those who they held dear and can’t provide them with any support or help.
Working remotely breaks you free of physical constraints. It won’t matter where you are in the world as long as you are getting the job done. You can be close to your family and friends all year round. You won’t have to take months of leave any more to go back to take care of your elderly parents. You won’t spend a fortune going back home for the holidays every year. Do we have to keep going? Ok, we will…
Travel while you work remotely
The absence of physical constraints allows people not only to be closer to their families but also to travel the world while getting work done. And this is one of the strongest factors in our opinion. We have been working online for over 2 years now and in the meanwhile, we have traveled to nearly 30 countries now.
This is the beauty of the Digital Nomad lifestyle. While we explore new cultures, realities, people, food, experiences we get work done from coworking spaces, coffee-shops or our own living room in our short-term rental.
Once the pandemic is over you could continue working remotely, at least a few days a week or a few months in the year. That means you can take little day trips or long weekends. Or you can dream big and travel the world like we do!
Remote work isn’t for everyone
COVID-19 is having a huge impact on our lives. Working from home is one of the main changes to it and you might feel thrown in the deep end. But don’t be scared. You didn’t choose it, you didn’t prepare for it, it is okay if you realize you don’t like it. Remote work isn’t for everyone…
But for now, you have to make lemonade out of lemons. Because of Coronavirus you don’t have a choice so give it your best go. If you are struggling, there is a lot of good advice out already. The Harvard business review has good tips on how to cope with working remotely and here is a list of 12 FREE Remote Work Tools to help you with this transition.
The COVID-19 epidemic is a world calamity. One positive is that we have just been handed a free pass to try living our life as remote workers. Maybe you or your employer weren’t ready but now we can’t but try to make the most of it.
Unfortunately for a bad reason. But let’s all do our best during this world-wide remote work experiment and make something good come out of this.
How do you think this COVID-19 pandemic will affect the Remote Work movement?
NOMADX is a real estate technology platform developed to meet the needs of the rapidly growing global community of location-independent remote workers, or “Digital Nomads”.
As Digital Nomads ourselves, we know what the market is looking for: trusted, affordable accommodations in highly-attractive locations worldwide at 50% less than AirBNB. We also offer educational masterclasses to help master the lifestyle as well as community events to help foster new friendships.
Please join our community of Digital Nomads and remote workers from around the world:
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Matilde & Miguel are a Portuguese couple who combined the passion for traveling with entrepreneurship and became Digital Nomads. They created the TravelB4Settle brand in late 2017 and since then they focused on Content Creation and Digital Marketing. Their main goal is to inspire and educate others to become Digital Nomads and help businesses all around the world to grow their presence online.