September 10, 2018

Productive or Procrastinative?

What comes to mind when you think of remote work? Netflix, isolation, or laziness? Contrary to what most professionals believe, remote work allows employees of all levels to work efficiently while stimulating a greater work ethic in an environment that is comfortable for them. Unfortunately, remote work and its associated employees have gotten a bad rap, discrediting a movement that only encourages people to want to do good work. Here are some of the most common misconceptions surrounding this new approach to work:

1. There is a lack of communication

The introduction of social media sharing has created a culture dependent on instant gratification. In the workplace, we expect that our close proximity to coworkers and employees will give us immediate answers to any questions that may come up and relieve us of our concerns. Take away the office, and the effects on communication are catastrophic.

Ha! Just kidding. Living in the digital age has granted us access to so many different types of mediated communication channels that it’s practically impossible not to chat with team members. A study conducted by TINYpulse found that 52% of remote workers have contact with their managers once a day, and another 34% communicate with their managers once per week.

2. Productivity will plummet

Remember those communication channels we just mentioned? They’re literally built to incentivize productivity and ensure tasks are met. Programs like Slack, Basecamp, Google Hangout, and Trello all keep employees in constant contact with updates and notifications on upcoming deadlines. Properly managed networks can get work done from anywhere at any time.

3. There are so many distractions

“But how can you get anything done outside of the office?” Believe it or not, the office is actually a more distracting environment than a home office, coworking office space, or even a coffee shop. Jason Fried, entrepreneur and founder of Basecamp, describes a day at the office as a series of ‘work moments.’

“You have 15 minutes here, 30 minutes there, and something else happens, you’re pulled off your work, then you have 20 minutes, then it’s lunch, then you have something else to do … Then you’ve got 15 minutes, and someone pulls you aside and asks you a question, and before you know it, it’s 5 p.m., and you look back on the day, and you realize that you didn’t get anything done.”

Colleagues want a quick chat, managers want to constantly check in, and meetings interrupt your thought process. After a number of workflow disruptions, it becomes increasingly difficult to pick up where you’ve left off. A ConnectSolutions study found that 77% of remote workers get more done in fewer hours when there are fewer distractions like meetings, conversations, and noisy coworkers.

4. Company culture will take a big hit

If we aren’t going to the office every day, how do we feel connected to it? Online messaging platforms allow us to remain connected with coworkers and schedule group meetings, or even casual coffee hangouts. Brian de Haaf, CEO of Aha!, employs an entirely remote team, stating that, “Our culture is not defined by in-office ‘perks’ such as ping-pong tables and beer taps. Instead, our culture is rooted in our company’s values and goals.”

Those who work remotely do not do so to get away from work, they do it to do good, meaningful, uninterrupted work that benefits them, their company, and their surrounding world.

5. You can’t be professional if you work remotely

Because most remote workers aren’t required to wake up at 6AM to shower, shave, put on a suit, pack their briefcase, and be at the office by 8AM for their 9AM meeting doesn’t make them any less qualified than your average Joe. They are dedicated to their craft, and their decision to follow an unconventional path should not discredit their capabilities. Leadership and professionalism can come from anywhere.

6. Remote workers only work from home

While this is common, it’s not always the case. Remote workers have looked to coffee shops, libraries, and coworking spaces to get their work done. These spaces offer appropriate amounts of caffeine, quiet time, and literally 0 interruptions from managers and coworkers. And even if remote work is done from home, so what? Work is still getting done, so does it really matter where it happens? As de Haaf describes it, “Simply put, remote work is the opportunity to do your best work from anywhere. Great achievements are measured by outcomes — not places.”

Currently, 70% of the global workforce works from home at least once a week, while 53% work remotely for at least half of the week. The stigma that remote workers do not get anything valuable done is based on outdated assumptions, and it’s time for businesses to take note. Remote work seeks to motivate employees to get back to the hustle, perfect their craft, and make a difference with the work that they do, regardless of where they are.