Written by Whitney Sanders, Operations Administrator & HR Generalist.
Contact her at 1.800.974.4828 x115, or email@example.com.
80% of all U.S. companies now offer non-traditional/flexible work arrangements. In addition to that, remote work, or telecommuting, in particular has grown 103% in the last 10 years. In keeping with that idea, the CareNational staff wanted to dedicate a series of blogs to the idea of these non-traditional arrangements, and the pros and cons that face the individual employee, as well as the challenges that arise to effective management.
Today, I thought it would be fitting to write about my own personal remote work experience, and share some of the insights I’ve gained on the topic recently. Within the past 90 days, due to a relocation within my family life, my work setting has completely done a 180 degree turn, moving from a 100% in-office based position to a 100% remote, Work From Home (WFH) setting. Now, my situation may be on the extreme side, in terms of going completely from one part of the spectrum to the other, but I thought it still brought value to clinical and non-clinical healthcare professionals in Medical Management. While we typically see companies doing smaller, incremental shifts towards WFH, such as partial remote work, there are definitely some key points from my experience that I had not considered before jumping in.
When starting the shift to tele-commuting, the first things that hit me are the personal benefits. That 45-55 minute daily commute that I had to and from work each day in my prior situation? Gone. It went “POOF” like a magic trick! I have since been able to replace that valuable time with meaningful activities and tasks such as squeezing in that home-gym workout, keeping ahead of household chores, or simply getting a head start on my work day.
Another key positive factor of my remote work environment is the ability to save money. I can save money on such things as gas and vehicle maintenance, as well as the money I spent on lunches or going out to eat with coworkers. These costs (and cost-savings) can significantly add up over time.
A third benefit is simply being available for those situations when someone needs to be at home. Such as an appointment for letting the pool technician in the backyard, or letting the alarm company in to fix a faulty panel. Prior to my WFH situation, it was always a conflict between my husband and me for who would be the one to leave work early and/or rush home on a lunch break to handle those types of appointments.
Lastly, another key benefit is the increased production that I’m able to gain from working in an environment with literally ZERO distractions. All of the typical daily interruptions that you would experience in a normal office setting are gone. Co-workers coming over to chit-chat, or to simply ask you questions about work projects, are distractions when you are focused and productive. Even the occasional printer or fax machine break-down (which always seems to inevitably pull in at least 1-3 people to fix the problem) could cost me hours in productivity in a given week. With these types of distractions removed, I’m able to complete projects ahead of schedule and gain 1-2 hours each day of increased productivity.
On the flip side, there are some potential down sides to working in a 100% remote setting. If you consider yourself a people-person and you thrive in an environment with constant face-to-face interaction, then WFH may not be the best fit for you. I consider myself able to adapt to many different types of environments. I enjoy working independently, however I do miss, at times, the human interaction that I had before. Being able to keep up with current events at the office, to share in a co-workers success, or to commiserate as a team when some bad-news inevitably comes… these are all things that I enjoy participating in, but am not typically involved with now, except maybe after the fact.
Another item to consider is that without the normal daytime distractions that help you benchmark your time, such as other people leaving for lunch around noon, or people restlessly packing up at the end of the day, I can become out-of-sync. Sometimes I find myself looking at the clock and realizing I’ve been sitting at my desk for 5 hours without moving! Or I’ll see that it’s 2:30 pm in the afternoon and I haven’t eaten lunch, so that is why my tummy hurts! So in the days of the fit-bit and other tools meant to help you manage your time (which I do not have, yet) I’ve had to get creative with how I benchmark my time, since relying on others in the office to do that for me is no longer a possibility, and I am beginning to suspect my cat cannot tell time at all. (Oh Yeah, you also get really, really bonded to your pets, like Cast Away Tom Hanks and Wilson close.)
Another item to consider is the type of role that you are in and how that might impact your work responsibilities. For example, I work in a department of just two people, so our daily morning huddles that we once had in person to discuss priorities, have moved to “phone-based” huddles. For those items or trainings that do need to be discussed in person, I’ve learned to build an ongoing list. That way, when I am in the office a few times per month, I have an agenda to make sure I follow up on those important matters.
So in conclusion, this blog is not intended to determine what the best remote or non-standard scenario is for every organization and team. I simply wanted to highlight the recent shift I made and the impact it has had on both my work life and home life. I am fortunate to work in an industry where remote work is even possible, and for a phenomenal company that recognizes the value of talented individuals. CareNational is a great place where flexibility is considered a positive, and each individual scenario is looked at on a case-by-case basis to see what can be made to work for everyone.
In many of the health plan and other Managed Care Organization clients we have, the WFH/tele-commute shift is occurring more and more to balance any given company’s need to lower costs, such as overhead expense on office space, while at the same time providing more flexibility for workers, improving recruitment strategies, and increasing retention of current employees I am definitely in favor of the work-from-home dynamic, and even though my particular change was very drastic, overall the pros have outweighed the cons. I truly believe allowing some form of non-traditional or remote work structure is the future of every successful company.