Remote work

Thinking of switching to remote work? It saves time on the morning commute, but can come with certain downsides. Photo: Pxfuel

Switching to remote work? Pros and cons of remote work in 2023

Thinking of switching to remote work? It saves time on the morning commute, but can come with certain downsides.

Remote work

Thinking of switching to remote work? It saves time on the morning commute, but can come with certain downsides. Photo: Pxfuel

Thinking of switching to remote work? Many global companies continue to work fully or partially remote post-pandemic. It saves time on the morning commute, but can come with certain downsides.

Here are the pros and cons of remote work in 2023.

TikTok will have you thinking remote work in 2023 is rather glamorous, and that you can join the weekly standup sipping a Mai Tai by the pool. But the truth is that remote work comes with many downsides too.

Let’s discuss the pros and cons of remote work in 2023. 

The advantages of remote work:

  1. Flexibility

Working remotely gives you the flexibility to travel and work from anywhere. The remote workers we spoke to appreciate having more control over their time and found no issues getting in touch with their colleagues abroad. Nicola McEwen is an accountant working remotely from Cape Town. One of her remote clients, Wimbledon-based wholesale manufacturer Mustard Foods, is easily accessible.

“No matter where my contacts are in the world, technology has made it feel like they could be in the office next door. I am able to pick up the phone and have conversations with my UK colleagues easily, and the distance does not impact a thing,” says McEwen.

  1. Work/life balance

Ditching the morning commute means more time for family and home duties. Most of our interviewees reported a better work/life balance by working from home. Saneah Dolley works from Cape Town as a Personal Assistant to a UK Director.

“By working remotely, I can be present at home, especially with a baby. And I love not having to dress corporate everyday. Crocs are my life currently!” says Dolley. 

  1. Increased productivity

Working from home gives you the flexibility to work when you are the most productive, not when the company says the day starts. If you’re a morning person, you can get up early to get your work done without distractions, and when your mind is the most alert.

“Working remotely enables me to have more flexibility which increases my productivity. I am able to connect to my laptop at any time of the day, which means I can be proactive by answering emails and responding to clients and colleagues quickly and efficiently,” says McEwen. 

The disadvantages of remote work:

  1. Isolation

Working on your own at home can increase productivity but can also get lonely. Our interviewees reported having fewer distractions at home but sometimes miss the office environment. Lerusha Reddy works from Johannesburg as the Global Design Manager for an international NGO.

“Working remotely means you don’t get much human interaction and it can get really lonely. It also takes a lot longer to explain something over Slack than just going to someone’s desk and explaining feedback,” says Reddy.

McEwen agrees, “I sometimes miss the interaction and day to day banter of an office environment and contact with people – however, this could be a positive as well, as my time is more constructive.” 

  1. Time zone and working hours

Depending on where your company is located, you could be working very different hours compared to most South Africans. London is one hour behind us, or two hours when they turn their clocks back in October. Whereas New York is six hours behind South Africa which means you might be joining Zoom meetings rather late in the evening. 

Without clear working hours, some remote workers tend to work well beyond 17:00.

“Working at home, it can be difficult to ‘switch off’ so you end up working later than 5 or 6 everyday,” says Dolley. 

  1. Laws and system differences

Depending on your field, you may need to familiarise yourself with the bureaucratic systems of a different country. As an accountant, Nicola McEwen had to familiarise herself with UK payroll processes.

“We have full access to Mustard Foods’ UK accounting system which has made the work very straightforward. The only complication is that we may not be as familiar with certain accounting/payroll processes, like the different Pension Funds or National Insurance Regulations, and we would often need to do a bit of digging if there was something we were unsure of. However, with the access we have to any information on the web, this problem is not a major problem to have,” says McEwen.

  1. Increased screen time

Without going into an office, remote workers spend more time at their computers on Zoom meetings or instant messaging on apps like Slack to communicate with their colleagues.

“Due to remote working I have a lot of meetings so some days I’ll be in five hours of back-to-back meetings. This leaves me quite drained and tired at the end of the day,” says Reddy. 

How to apply for remote work: 

The most accessible place to find remote jobs is LinkedIn. Set your search parameters to ‘worldwide’ instead of just South Africa, but be aware that some remote work in Europe or Asia might require additional language skills. (  

Other remote job seeker platforms include Indeed and Upwork, but Upwork requires you to create a profile and hourly rate to apply for freelance jobs. 

Another route is to get in touch with international job recruiters in your field. They will have the contacts and listings suitable to your skillset. 

Checklist for your home office: 

  • A workspace free from distractions
  • A comfortable office setup equipped with necessities
  • High-speed reliable wifi
  • Backup power 

“Ensure you have the necessary backup infrastructure – inverter, solar, or UPS – as working can become challenging with loadshedding now a way of life. And have an outdoor office, away from the family,” says Dolley. 

Before switching to remote work, consider the pros and cons carefully and make sure you have the right conditions and infrastructure in place.

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