The pros and cons of remote working in tech PR

Michelle By Michelle

Over the past few years, remote working has become a key part of the experience of working at Spark. Given that a lot of our work can be done anywhere we have access to a laptop, decent internet access and a steady supply of biscuits; it can be just as easy to work from home as it is to come into the office. VoIP, VPNs, Skype, Slack and Yammer make it easy for remote workers to stay in touch with colleagues in the office and always be available for clients and journalists.

As well as giving London-based Sparkies the flexibility needed to wait in for a delivery or electrician on occasion, it also offers a more permanent solution for those of us that have decided to leave the hustle and bustle of London for pastures new; such as Solihull (Tris), Leeds (Michelle), and Glasgow (David).

That flexibility allows Spark to hold onto some of its best and brightest when their lifestyle decisions take them away from London, which is a huge benefit for everyone. It also means that as the team continues to grow (there are now more than 20 of us!) we don’t end-up with a supply and demand crisis over the lack of desk-based real-estate in the office.

As with all things in life though, there are pros and cons when it comes to remote working. The reality might surprise those that think it’s all about daytime TV, working in your pyjamas and drinking straight from the milk bottle. With that in mind, we thought we’d share an overview of the pros and cons of remote working based on our experiences.

The Pros:

- No distractions – Being part of a close team is one of the great things about Spark, but it has to be said, the peace and quiet of a home office means that you can focus on tasks with few distractions. This is particularly useful when working on writing or planning projects.

- No daily commuting – The Spark home workers have put in many previous years of commuting, and no longer having to do the daily commute is a definite plus point which boosts that work/life balance.

- Fine dining – One advantage of home working is being able to cook/make something nice for lunch and avoid the dreaded Boots’ ‘meal deal’.

- Control of the airwaves – Whether Radio 1Xtra or Classic FM – having full control of the office radio at home is also not be sniffed at.

- Cats on your desk – Finally, and this probably only applies to Michelle, but there’s also something lovely about having a cat on your desk while you work.

The Cons:

- Longer commute – It may not be a daily occurrence, but we remote workers do still make the commute at least once every two weeks, and it can take some of us around six hours each way. We are at the mercy of some very unreliable train and plane companies. Delays and cancellations are not uncommon!

- Missing Friday drinks – Us Sparkies are a social lot, but most of the time those not in the office have to join in ‘Friday Drinks’ over Skype, which isn’t quite the same.

- Human company – Being a remote worker means you have to be pretty comfortable being on your own. But every now and then, all of us can get a little lonely without the hubbub of the office to distract us, and look forward to our office visit.

- Brainstorming – The phone is a great tool but for creative work, but there’s no question face-to-face has its advantages, especially when planning and creating – so we do try to fit all brainstorming sessions into our office visits.

Ultimately, remote working is a different experience for everyone and offers its own advantages and disadvantages depending on the type of person you are. One thing’s for sure though – it’s a hugely beneficial part of the working culture at Spark.