There are plenty of advantages of working remotely for workers and their companies. Research has revealed that companies offering remote options enjoy more creative and less robotic employees, lower attrition and a terrific hiring benefit. For the remote employees there is better work/life balance, greater control over the working environment, and the ability to make their own lunch in their own kitchen in their sweatpants, to name just a few. But there are some things that initially appear to be drawbacks to remote situations for the employee until you see how to avoid them.
Here are a few of them:
You WILL Feel Left Out Occasionally
If you missed a company meeting – and an important announcement – you will feel left out. There will be times when even the tools of technology won’t keep you totally in the loop.
What can you do about it? You can decide how involved you want to be with your company as a remote worker. Use of online tools to stay in touch with your team or peers. Oh, and don’t be afraid to show your face around the office from time to time if you have the option.
Networking is MUCH Harder for Remote Workers
Think about the last time you heard about a changes in other businesses or in your sector or about moves made by key people in your job market? Being remote sort of takes you out of this loop.
What can you do about it? You must make the effort to stay connected with your industry and even your company community. Get out on your own and attend events. Yes – this will force you to put on real pants instead of just sweatpants. But staying connected is worth that every now and then. And – yes – LinkedIn can help you stay connected.
Productivity Expectations May Differ
One complaint of being in the office is that constant interruptions of meetings, people dropping by your desk for a “quick chat,” and the myriad other distractions that are part of working in any office inhibit maximum productivity.
Working remotely eliminates these problems. There are another entire set of distractions for the remote worker. Laundry, dinner prep, walking the dog, putting a friend’s birthday card in the mail – all easily inspired on the quick trip to the kitchen for more coffee. It’s unrealistic to assume that you can work all day, every day, with no interruptions. That, however, doesn’t mean that it is less important for remote workers to make sure they are productive.
What can you do about it? Just because you’re working from home doesn’t mean that you should be working all the time. Maintain what you determine your office hours to be as best you can. Be sure to turn the office on when appropriate and be able to turn it off too. Be disciplined while you’re working and don’t end up in your garage rearranging your tools just because you decided to put a screwdriver back where it belongs.
It Gets Lonely
Even if you’re an introvert, you are human and may feel lonely after you’ve worked 40 hours in your home office. And if you’re a social person, you will notice a yearning for some human contact.
This aspect of remote work is one that most people who are new at it are surprised by and have to deal with. On one hand, solitude can be immensely beneficial to productivity. On the other, constant isolation can quickly become its own terrible distraction.
What can you do about it? This is one of the easiest-to-solve of the working remotely drawbacks. If you need the bustle of being around other people, coffee shops make excellent workspaces. Starbucks and Caribou as well as local coffee shops have become offices for contractors and remote workers over the past decades. Your loneliness will subside, but your addiction to non-fat lattes will be full-blown.
Many companies with significant numbers of remote workers create solutions for loneliness and employee connectivity by having events to include the entire company several times a year and smaller groups on a more frequent schedule.
Again – this is an ailment the occasional visit to the office will cure!
Remote Work Is a Skill
If you’re in charge of hiring and firing at your company, hire for remote working as if it’s a skill – because it is.
Working remotely forces you to become a more skillful communicator. It also forces you to be more resourceful, especially if you’re working from an area with limited connectivity or cell coverage. Computer problems? You may just be your own IT guy now. Miss a deadline because you couldn’t find anywhere with Wi-Fi? It’s on you to make sure that doesn’t happen.
This kind of preparedness can be a desirable quality in a potential hire, as can the strong work ethic you need to succeed as a remote worker. Communicating online has never been easier, but it takes skill to communicate well online.
What can you do about it? Rather than view this as a problem to be solved, instead think of it as an opportunity to cultivate a new skill. Transitioning from a full-time in-house environment to working remotely can be a major shift for some people. Fortunately, being productive as a remote worker is a skill that can be learned like any other. It just takes time to settle in, just like it does during those first few weeks at a new gig.
It’s Not for Everyone – and That’s OK
Perhaps the least-discussed aspect of remote work is the fact that it’s not for everybody.
Some people lack the work ethic it takes to focus in an entirely newly distracting environment, especially if said person is working from home. Others simply can’t work without the buzz of a busy office or the casual banter of their cubicle colleagues. Whatever the reason, not everyone is suited to remote work – and that’s okay.
What can you do about it? If you’re considering making the shift from the office to working remotely, only actually doing it will show you whether it’s right for you or not. If you try it and it doesn’t work out, it’s simply something new you’ve learned about yourself.
However, it’s important to give yourself enough time to gauge whether it’s a good fit. It might take a while to adjust, so be sure to give it a fair shot if you’re thinking about making the switch. If you try it and it really isn’t for you, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.
To summarize, just like anything else that is worthwhile, working remotely takes effort, discipline and focus. But then doesn’t being productive anywhere require those same things?
Would you like to see even more comments on working remotely? People love to share.
You might also like to read about 3 working remotely facts that aren’t too good to be true and statistics on the remote workforce.