Do you unplug after work? If so, you are in the lucky majority. I have to confess I am one who falls into the unlucky minority. I believe the only time I truly unplugged is at the dinner table when I am with my family. Looking at the stats, remote work is on the rise, increasing 91% in the last 10 years, according to FlexJobs. So what do the numbers really mean about the future of work? Some 38% indicated they worked remotely more this year compared to just last year alone. Couple that to the fact that 55% worked remotely the same amount this year as last year. However, new research shows while there are benefits of being a remote worker in a virtual world, there are also a number of challenges.

A survey of 200 full-time remote workers shows that unplugging after work hours is the biggest pain point 40% of respondents encounter when working in their virtual environment.

Here’s a snapshot of the day-to-day life of a remote worker: 94% of remote workers primarily work from home; 46% never have to travel to work-related events; 32% travel one or two times a year; and only 9% travel five times or more each year. 59% say working from home is very or somewhat conducive to developing meaningful relationships with coworkers, and 13% of full-time remote workers plan to take more than four weeks of vacation this year.

Here are some other challenges for remote workers: dealing with non-work distractions (32%), developing strong relationships with coworkers (25%), loneliness (23%), troubleshooting technology problems (21%), and working across different time zones (19%).

While remote workers tend to have difficultly unplugging after work, offers seven strategies to consider: set expectations regarding your availability; schedule regular blocks of time away in your calendar; have an accountability partner; embrace your hobbies; tackle your biggest or most urgent to-dos sans tech; have a contingency plan in place; and focus on being present for those around you.

But for all the challenges there are also a number of benefits. Remote workers tend to be more productive, happier, and more engaged at their jobs. Even more, 83% say they couldn’t imagine returning to an on-site office and only 1% say it would not be a big deal to give it up.

Life-balance and a solid work ethic are two wonderful lessons for the future worker that just might be encouraged for a happier work life. That means creating personal boundaries is a must. While I have yet to master the aforementioned that talent, I encourage the next generation to leverage technology and know when to use it and know when to avoid it. Three key points: not every email is critical, respond accordingly, and unplug completely. Just a thought!

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Peggy Smedley
Peggy Smedleyeditorial director