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Working for a remote company or owning a thriving E-Commerce business is what most people want — but is it what they need?
Making money from the internet is a relatively new opportunity that some people have monopolized and made huge wealth from. Owner of the global shipping business, Amazon, Jeff Bezos is rumored to have a net worth of around 160 billion US dollars.
Amazon is one of the few global companies that have recently hit the trillion dollar valuation mark. Along with technology provider, Apple, Amazon made the news earlier this year for reaching a trillion dollars on the stock market.
Although these types of success stories are rare, they do show how lucrative the online marketplace can be and just how much potential there is for individuals to earn from it. Despite the positive impact it can have on our finances, how does working remotely fare for our mental and physical health? In this blog post, we discuss both the health risks and benefits associated with flexible working.
The Health Risks
High profile publications like Forbes frequently discuss (and endorse) the act of working from home. Despite the positive portrayal of earning money remotely in the media, working from home does come with its own occupational health risks. These include:
Working in Isolation — As a remote worker, online entrepreneur or skilled freelancer, you don’t have to work with that inevitable office personality that gets on everybody’s nerves. The downside to this though is that you frequently work alone — meaning you don’t get to work with anyone. Working in isolation is risk assessed in most physical workplaces, but in the online sphere, it’s often dismissed. The truth is, workplace isolation is rarely seen as a good thing and in traditional workspaces, people see it as an issue that needs fixing.
Receiving Unpredictable Pay — Depending on the type of work you carry out online, the pay can be unpredictable. As opposed to receiving a monthly salary at an office-based job, online entrepreneurs can be dripping in dollars one minute or downright broke the next. This poses an issue for the less financially savvy who might find it difficult to create realistic projections for themselves and reign in their spending habits when the money comes rolling in. Although you might understand that your drop shipping business is going through a lull in the off-season, your mortgage broker won’t.
Experiencing a Lack of Support — Poor communication and team integration is a common concern for those with flexible work arrangements. Harvard Business Review have spoken about this at length, discussing how remote employees suspect they’re perceived as less important than office-based workers.
There is also conflicting information to counteract this, as a survey of British workers reveals the overwhelming majority of the public now view remote and office-based work as equal. For whatever reason, remote workers often feel “left out” and suffer from what they consider to be a lack of support.
Creating a Work-Life Imbalance — Contrary to the popular belief that remote work creates a better work-life balance, the opposite could be true. In a traditional office job, work hours are restricted to nine to five, leaving employees free to enjoy leisure and family activities after-hours. In the remote realm, the opposite is the case. With no day “off limits” remote workers can delve into work on a Sunday afternoon, stay up late finishing off projects and get less than the legally required work breaks and time between shifts enforced in most countries under employment law.
The Health Benefits
Don’t get too disheartened by the above health risks, as there are also plenty of health benefits associated with making money online. If you choose to work online, you might find yourself financially, physically and mentally better off.
Skip the Commute and Save Time — The small things matter and that thirty-minute journey to work being removed is one of them. With those extra thirty minutes, you could create a morning gym routine and protect your physical health. Failing that, you could stay in bed and benefit from an extra hour of sleep — the more appealing alternative — which has some surprisingly convincing health benefits.
Align Life Priorities with Work Ones — Both your mental and physical health is tested at pivotal points in life such as post-pregnancy. Working online is shown to particularly benefit new mothers as they can prioritize both their career and their newborn — effectively helping to close the gender pay gap. Making money online means that minimal physical effort is required to go to work, allowing new parents to continue making enough money to support their household after the birth of their child.
Be “Virtually” Surrounded by People Like You — If you work for an agency, remote company or as a part of a team, the chances are that you’ll be “virtually” surrounded with people just like you. Your chances of creating genuine work friendships will increase because of this. Friendships have amazing health benefits including boosted happiness, reduced stress, and improved self-confidence. Successful friendships are rarely talked about — at least not as much as financial success or career success is — but they should be, as creating strong bonds and ties with your community can add to your overall quality of life.
Work for a People-Focused Company — If you’re working for a company on the web, it’s likely that you’ve picked an organization that’s firmly focused on creating a positive workplace culture. The fact that this company offers flexible work arrangements is a good indication that they have a strong HR team, people ethos and desire to treat their employees with respect. Companies with this type of package might further your health benefits by shelling out affordable healthcare, financial support and workplace tools like webinars and team building activities.
It’s up to You
It’s a pretty even playing field when it comes to working online, as a productive person might use the extra time and flexibility to their advantage. On the other hand, a few poor decisions might leave you behind on mortgage repayments and feeling socially removed.
Making money online can have a variety of outcomes and ultimately, the decision to work this way is up to you.
You could end up like Jeff Bezos, who, by the way, started in a cramped office complete with a spray-painted Amazon sign. Or, you might end up returning to the corporate world with your metaphorical tail between your legs. It all depends on how well you manage the advantages and disadvantages of this marketplace.
One thing is for sure, making money online is not an occupational health hazard nor is it a Balinese spa retreat. When it comes to better health, the responsibility lies with you and your actions.
Rory Whelan is a communications expert with over twenty years experience in consultancy, television, media and telecoms. Since 2012 he has held the role of marketing manager for eReceptionist, leading the product to become the favourite call management company for UK SMEs.