06 Jan Project Management | 5 Remote Work Myths to Leave Behind in 2020
As remote work becomes more and more prevalent across businesses globally, people have formed opinions about what, exactly, it means to be a remote worker.
This has also caused tribal knowledge to be passed around cubicles about the dangers of working remotely. Let’s examine some of the most popular remote work myths, and set the record straight.
Remote Workers are Less Reliable
Although this myth has been pretty thoroughly debunked across internet think pieces, it still seems to come up in hiring meetings and coaching sessions, so let’s put it to rest once and for all: remote workers are not less reliable or less productive than their onsite cohorts. In fact, statistics have shown time and again that remote workers are more productive, work longer hours, and are less likely to take time off than onsite employees.
Because remote workers can’t be physically monitored in the same way onsite employees can, they can help assuage fears about reliability by over-communicating with their teammates and manager. This all boils down to how your team works, but if you find that coworkers are looking for you after hours, it can help to set regular office hours, or provide hours of availability. Setting your status on platforms like Slack can help with this, too. Exchanging phone numbers for emergencies can allow you to work more flexibly, while maintaining availability to your team. Once you’ve worked out a system, it’s important to be consistent with it.
Remote Work Stagnates Your Career Growth
The lore of the office was once, “Don’t go remote! You’ll be forgotten and never promoted.” However, statistics show this is simply not true. The salary breakdown of remote workers surveyed was 74% earning less than $100k per year, and 26% earning more, compared with 92% of on-site workers earning less than $100k and 8% earning more. In addition, there are 18% more executives working remotely than there are working on-site now. The possibilities of promotion in the remote realm are there — so how can you act on them?
Communication is key for anyone moving to remote work. This shows itself in many different ways — because you’re not onsite to casually overhear and offer support for your teammates, you’ll need to be proactive about it. Reach out regularly to offer a helping hand to your teammates so that they know you are a reliable partner for them. You’ll also need to be very direct and proactive with your manager. By letting them know what your career goals are, and helping to set milestones to reach those goals, you’ll ensure that you’re taking all the right steps to reach your potential, no matter where you work from.
Remote Employees Work from Exotic Locations
For some people, when they picture their remote coworkers, they envision laptops on the beach, conference calls from woodsy cabins, and jet-setting teammates hopping from foreign coffee shop to foreign coffee shop. However, the reality is that a majority of employees prefer to perform their remote work from home.
For those with a spare bedroom or space in their home, setting up a remote office can help ease the distractions that come from working onsite with co-workers. Walk-ups for questions or coffee breaks disappear when you can close a door and be totally alone in your own space. Reliable internet, an ergonomically sound chair, and a desk you love will get you well on your way to home office bliss — and the more you can upgrade your accessories, the more you’ll enjoy escaping into your office-away-from-the-office. By spending more time working from home, remote workers can enjoy savings on work travel, daily office expenses like lunching out at a restaurant, and coffees for those who set up shop at cafes.
Remote Work is Isolating
While it certainly is true that working remotely can cause some loneliness — 19% of remote employees report this as their biggest challenge — it is by no means an insurmountable or inevitable pitfall of the remote lifestyle. Remote workers attend more meetings weekly than their onsite counterparts, and report higher job satisfaction. So how can you make sure you’re keeping your remote employees engaged?
Work-related meetings alone will definitely not cut it. It’s important to host virtual team building activities and celebratory meetings to keep remote teammates included. Particularly if you have a hybrid team with both remote and onsite coworkers, you’ll want to be mindful of things like onsite team members talking over those who are working from home on conference calls, or after-work offsite activities that continually exclude your remote employees.
It’s Impossible to Build Team Culture Remotely
Without the option for offsite team lunches, motivational posters around an office, or coordinated clothing weeks (think “pajama day”), you may wonder how it’s even possible to build company culture in a remote setting. But it’s not only possible — it’s necessary. Company culture can act as a guiding light for your employees when they’re stuck on a project and unsure of their next move. If you identify what you want to be at the heart of your culture, whether that’s your customer, creativity, collaboration, or anything in between, you’ll create a shared baseline from which your employees can make decisions.
There are a number of ways to go about building company culture for remote work, but as long as you implement core values that are shared company-wide, you’ll be setting off on the right foot. From onboarding new employees to coaching tenured ones, bake your culture into everything you do, and it’ll become second nature to your team.
As you beef up your remote presence or look to finally dip a toe in the remote-working pool, don’t assume any possible pitfalls are inevitable. Plan ahead, communicate clearly and consistently, utilize technology (like collaboration software) to help your team stay connected, and rock the world of remote work.