5 Things Nobody Tells You About Working RemotelyReading Time: 7 minutes
Have you newly been introduced to working remotely?
In the current world we all live in, the corporate space of work bears a specific stereotype. Many a times, this stereotype sounds something like this: Wake up real early in the morning, have (or not) breakfast (or coffee for most), get that suit/formal dress on, catch that dreadfully early bus or train, get into your office building, get to your desk, turn on your computer, chug away at your scheduled office activities for the day, catch the 6pm bus or train back home, reel from the insane stress levels you’ve had to endure for the day, sleep, wake up, and repeat!
Of course, there are multiple variations to this stereotype, but for many, this reality encapsulates the entirety of how their work lives progress. However, there’s a contender on the prowl to this stereotype; one that is in many ways, a usurper of the conventional practices of work.
In this article, we’ll be delving into the topic of working remotely. We’ll cover the things that essentially, no one has told you about. We’ll look at the good and the bad. So, without further ado, let’s get cracking!
But First…What Exactly Does Working Remotely Mean?
Perhaps you’re wondering what it means to work remotely. Well, if you are, tune in and concentrate!
Working remotely, otherwise referred to as Telecommuting, Telework, remote work, and mobile work, is a form of work practice in which employees do not commute (either by bus, car, train, flight, etcetera) to a central point/place of work, like an office building, warehouse, facility, or store. This basically means that you can conduct your work in the comfort of your home or living space, with the aid of technological components such as a mobile phone, laptop, and, of course, the internet.
Remote working was birthed as a sort of ‘aversion’ to conventional working practices, where individuals were compelled to meet at a central working space, such as an office, from whatever location that they were in. This arrangement, although structured, is often times more rigid. Hence, the arrangement of working from home came as a form of flexible substitution to an otherwise rigid form.
Working Remotely: The New Norm?
You may be thinking through the concept of remote work and be going, “but hey! This sounds like an excellent idea!”. You’re absolutely right if you are, and you’re not as well. Working remotely may be an excellent idea to others, but then again, it isn’t always a one-size-fits-all.
Before we delve into the latter, let’s take a look at the former. For one thing, working remotely boasts an immense amount of benefits to not only the employees in question, but also the organization as a whole. A few of them are:
For starters, working at home gives you the advantage of having a flexible lifestyle. With a remote work set up, you wouldn’t have to commute to an office building. This eliminates the conundrum of traffic and ultimately leaves you less stressed than you would’ve been if you had to commute.
In addition, working remotely gives you access to be in your comfort zone, which, ideally, should make you less nervous in performing tasks, and giving you more control over your schedules. This flexible working style possesses the capacity to greatly improve the productivity of workers by miles.
2. Increased Autonomy
Working remotely gives employees the ability to be more autonomous/independent in the sense that they work and deliver output on their own terms. The world is home to a diverse set of workers. This includes workers with different personalities, different modes of thinking, and different times of productivity. With the option of remote working, workers have the option of delivering tasks at their own pace, within their most comfortable times, and in an environment that best facilitates their thoughts and regimens.
3. Reduced Cost
This point is particularly directed to the organization (or employer). Needless to say, office space is expensive. Whether you have to buy this space or rent it, as long as you choose to sustain a body of workers within this space, you’re going to incur some form of fixed cost.
However, with the option of working remotely, organizations can, in effect, reduce the amount of office space needed, and actually save cost. Of course, this isn’t a one-way street for every single organization, but the truth simply stands that remote working saves cost and reduces waste for the organization at large.
If family is a priority to you, then working from hope poses a way to connect with them. You can take care of family and work at the same time. Since you’re basically at home all the time, your family gets to see you a lot more often than they normally would if you were working in a traditional arrangement. Plus, the flexible arrangement offered by remote work lets you prioritize your schedule. You can have enough time to adequately cater for and interact with your family. This has been proven to improves overall happiness and keeps employees a lot more satisfied with their work.
What Is It They Don’t They Tell You About Working Remotely?
The afore-mentioned points on the pros of working remotely, though all good and great, don’t outrightly classify remote working as the perfect solution. So, what don’t they tell you about working from home? Well…
1. It’s not THAT easy to be (and to stay) productive
Comfort, albeit pleasurable and ideal, can often be a thorn in the flesh of one’s goals.
Of course, you may argue that working remotely makes a worker way more productive. While, of course, this is true (see the Harvard Business Review on productivity and working from home), many a time, the home can be a place fraught with distractions.
Ideally, when an employee leaves his office space and chooses to work remotely, the distractions from coworkers, the temptation of engaging in idle conversations, and even the nudging desire to just take a break and hang out are essentially removed. However, the argument stands that working from home may actually provide the same or similar distractions that one might face in a traditional office setting.
For one thing, greater comfort can expose you to the danger of procrastination. Ever had that feeling where you got too comfortable and said to yourself, “I’ll put this off till later”? Yeah, us too. In addition, your family, pet, and even digital devices can all constitute sources of distraction. They can seriously derail you from being productive. Also, the elimination of the ‘rigid’ office aura may actually make you perform less than you ordinarily would, as the ‘pressure’ to deliver isn’t so obviously present (unless you choose a coworking station or customize your workspace in your home).
2. Feelings of Loneliness
Human beings are, by nature, immensely sociable beings. A prolonged removal from the space of social interactions can often lead many people to fall into a melancholic state. In some extreme cases, workers can become depressed.
Working remotely constitutes a scene where you’re physically removed from the bustle of a central working space. For many people, this may be good for their attention and focus, but 9 times out of 10, they end up feeling isolated and disconnected. Traditional office spaces have the advantage of stimulating face-to-face/physical interaction with other people around you. This, in many cases, has been seen to be a healthy practice to maintain. Although, the introverts may revel in the glory of working alone and remotely, many people need actual human interaction to sustain their emotional and psychological wellbeing.
Fortunately, this problem of isolation can easily be solved by engaging in coworking spaces. In a coworking space, you won’t be in a traditional office arrangement, but you’ll be immersed in a casual environment with other people whilst getting your work done. Coffee shops, for instance, are a great alternative in this regard. Taking advantage of these kinds of spaces will not only make you forget your loneliness, but you’ll also be able to have actual social interactions; and that’s always a good thing.
3. Your organization presence tends to zero
As an employee engaged in a remote work option, your organizational visibility may take a sharp fall. In a traditional office arrangement, most (if not all) employees maintain a level of visibility. This is acknowledged by the organization. They interact with their managers and supervisors, participate in brainstorming exercises with coworkers, interact with their managers. They can attend impromptu meetings regarding certain pertinent issues.
All these components may be lost on remote work employees, and in some way, they ‘lose face’ with respect to their organization. This, however, can be remedied with the use of video communication digital tools like skype, zoom, etc. Ideally, you could talk to your manager and coworkers, and even have meetings with these tools. So, in a sense, you’re not entirely ‘invisible’. Nevertheless, many people will argue that these tools don’t initiate the same feeling as being physically present within the organization.
4. It’s harder to network
Being a remote worker can substantially decrease your networking ability as opposed to working in a conventional office space. Without the daily banter with coworkers, you lose out on immediate information regarding the ‘next big vacancy’, ‘the next networking seminar’, or ‘the upcoming promotional criteria’. The speed of information transfer within the traditional office context is one that is not entirely reciprocated in a remote working environment.
That being said, most remote workers would then have to rely heavily on impersonal channels like job boards or conference mail subscriptions to get updates on possible offers and networking opportunities.
5. Work-Life Balance will be jeopardized
For many remote workers, it may be hard to appropriately balance your work-life schedules. Since you attach your home/living space to be your work space, it may be difficult for you to “switch off” and focus on other activities that aren’t strictly work oriented.
In a traditional office setting, your mind is primed to distinguish your work space from your comfort space. You understand that once you get to your desk, the work begins. Later, once that chime goes off for you to leave your desk for home, your work activities end. This can be very difficult to differentiate. Working remotely and can potentially put your personal life (and even health) at great risk.
What’s The Take Away Here?
The choice to work remotely or not solely rests on your personality as an individual. Does everything easily distract you? Do you work better curled up on a sofa? Do you need to be motivated by your manager and coworkers? Or Do you work best in complete and utter silence? Understanding your personality will make you more prepared. You need to structure the atmosphere in which you want to work in for the purpose of making you as productive as possible. For more on remote work, check out Our Complete Guide to Remote Working or our handy Remote Work Hacks.