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Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Remote work isn’t strictly better than in-person work

It’s important to choose your work environment wisely when searching for a job


By OWEN RUDERMAN — opinion@theaggie.org


The post-COVID era that we are now in has changed the way we live our daily lives in a number of ways. For example, masks are a much more common sight, and many people have picked up new hobbies. But perhaps the most radical change that the COVID-19 pandemic had on our society has to do with work.

It seems to me that remote work — that is, work conducted from home over communication software like Zoom and Slack — has become much more common because of the pandemic. My father, for example, works as a software engineer almost entirely from home. Before the pandemic, however, he worked pretty much exclusively from an office.

At first glance, it might seem like remote work is an entirely positive change. You get to work from the comfort of your own home, which means no commute and no awkward work environment or bland cubicle. It also means that your work hours can be a bit more flexible, and you have more time to spend with your family and friends.

There are probably many other benefits to remote work that I haven’t listed, but you get the point. However, as I began to look for jobs, I found myself not really wanting to work remotely. And many of my peers have expressed similar sentiments.

The same thing kept coming up every time I would talk to people about their work preference — loneliness. It feels like you can miss out on a lot of work culture when you work remotely. It’s harder to get to know people and make friends, and it feels to me like it might be more difficult to network with people and make professional connections with higher-ups. Personally, I’m worried that if I don’t secure an in-person job, I’ll be dissatisfied, lonely and fall behind my peers.

It turns out, my colleagues and I could be on to something. An article by The New York Times reports that a recent study on remote work revealed that there is a hidden penalty buried within all the benefits of remote work: less supervision.

Apparently, there is a “now-versus-later” trade-off associated with this kind of work. According to the article, young workers in entry-level positions receive less feedback from their senior colleagues when they aren’t in the office. Therefore, it’s entirely possible that someone who attends work in person might progress faster in their position than someone who is remote.

Personally, I’m going to try to find a job that gets me into an office or some other workspace. I just feel like it’s the right fit for me. It’s undeniable, however, that remote work is a great option. I might even consider jobs that have me in a hybrid position, where I come into the office on some days and work remotely on others. 

In the end, I think it really comes down to personal preference, as there are pros and cons to both methods of work. However, it is important to keep all these different factors in mind when you are looking for your first job out of college. Do some soul searching and job hunting, and make your decision carefully.


Written by: Owen Ruderman — opinion@theaggie.org

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed by individual columnists belong to the columnists alone and do not necessarily indicate the views and opinions held by The California Aggie.