Remote work is often considered the better alternative to office work. There are many good reasons for that: there's no commute, it's better for the planet, you have more time for yourself and your family, and you're usually much more flexible in determining your working hours.
But the difficulty with all this good news about remote work is that many underestimate the drastic changes that come with switching from an office job to a remote job. This is particularly true when it comes to personal relationships. Your social dynamics will change entirely, and it's important to at least be aware of those changes.
Remote Work Changes Things for the Better
On the positive side, remote work usually provides you with the flexibility and freedom to spend more time with your family and friends. You will also have more time to do the things you love and be able to do them at unconventional times.
Examples can include going for a run Monday morning, seeing your retired grandparents more often, doing groceries when there's no traffic, cooking for your partner so dinner is ready when they come home, taking a work break to play with your kids, et cetera.
This is genuinely a wonderful change that immediately improves the quality of your life and is usually cited as the biggest benefit of remote work. With this one (big) change of switching to remote work, your work-life balance immediately improves.
But Here Are Some Things to Consider
But there are other important things to consider. First on the list is that you will essentially spend almost no time in person with your colleagues. When you're the only remote worker in the house and you have no kids, this means you will have very few social interactions during your workday.
Extroverted remote workers will immediately sense this and will naturally want to hang out more with friends and family before or after work. The sudden loneliness of remote work may actually be more dangerous for introverted remote workers, who aren't naturally inclined to message a friend for a coffee or a drink after work.
So introverts, take note. Remote work loneliness creeps up on you. Don't think you can go a whole month without seeing anyone. It's a steady path to burnout. Make a conscious effort to hang out with people, because it will stop you from feeling isolated and disconnected.
Another thing to consider is that the boundaries between your professional and personal lives will blur. After all, you're now living both lives in the same house. It's important to keep them both properly separated, which may involve:
- Telling your family and friends you're actually working throughout the day and may not be available to do chores or hang out. You may have more freedom as a remote worker, but this doesn't mean others can use that freedom to move you around.
- Choosing a time when you'll start and stop working. Otherwise, your day will have no structure and you'll either not work enough or work too much (probably the latter). Again, remote work usually gives you the flexibility to move your working hours around, but it's generally still a good idea to stick to some kind of schedule.
Finally, if your partner also works remotely, you will suddenly spend much more time together. This can create an entirely different dynamic in your relationship, something that many couples will have noticed during the pandemic. Proximity can make you grow closer, but it can also do the opposite and create distance.
Whichever way it goes will depend on you. Again, you'll just need to be more conscious about it. If you're in a relationship, it doesn't matter if you're both in the same house the whole day, still schedule time for each other and keep communicating openly and honestly about your feelings, wants, and needs.
Remote work will have a drastic impact on your personal relationships. Usually, the changes that come with remote work are for the better, but you also need to realize that they will not always be unequivocally positive. Sometimes, they'll just be different.
None of these changes are unovercomeable or even reasons why you shouldn't work remotely, but it's important to be aware of them so 1) you don't feel lonely and 2) you use remote work to build stronger, healthier relationships with the people closest to you.