Out of Office…Indefinitely: 5 Myths About Working Remotely
In each company, it seems everyone is working for the weekend, a vacation, or happy hour. They strive to add the desired ‘out of office’ to their email, but what happens if they’re never in the office to begin with? Remote work is the answer to escaping the dreaded monotony of a 9 to 5, but, it’s not always as glamorous as it seems.
While it’s true that remote work allows for a more flexible lifestyle, that doesn’t necessarily mean it comes without its challenges. Isolation, lack of structure, and overworking are all hurdles that come with the perk of rolling out of bed into your office. These are the most common myths of remote working, and a few pointers for barreling over these hurdles.
Myth #1: You’ll never miss working in an office.
This one really surprised me. One of the allures of remote work is never having to clock in, deal with annoying co-workers, or attend a meeting that could have been an email. Those who are first transitioning from the cubicle to the casa are ready to run off to a remote island with nothing but a Wifi connection. But, you may find yourself in more of a Tom Hanks Castaway situation.
Believe it or not, you may actually miss the bad coffee, the forced fun, and card signing office life demands. For me, the reason I missed the office was for the forced structure and the friendship. Remote work can be isolating if you don’t do it right. Some ways to avoid becoming a total Castaway and naming your toaster Wilson, are:
- Join a group of other remote workers.
- Find a coworking space where you can go every day.
The support of seeing people who have the same lifestyle can not only improve your quality of work, it can also improve your mood. It will also help to have a steady and structured ‘office’.
Myth #2: Not having a schedule is liberation.
One of the best parts of working on your own is being able to make your own schedule. But, when you’re the boss, you can be lenient on your schedule and your deadlines. If you’re someone who likes to sleep in (like me), you may find yourself working later and later in the day.
An easy solution to combat this challenge is to schedule certain events into your calendar away from work and the house. Scheduling events can create a sense of structure in the remote lifestyle, and a sense of urgency in your work. If you are indeed working from home, it’s important to leave and see the outside world. Schedule some ‘can’t-miss’ appointments in the day like a paid fitness class or a concert with friends. This will help to create a balance and a change of scenery. Scheduling these events into your calendar will hold you more accountable.
Myth #3: You Can Travel While You Work
Cue images of Instagram posts with tanned bodies on laptops at the beach.
Full disclosure: I am pretty sure every beach I’ve been to doesn’t have Wifi, and I don’t want sand anywhere near my laptop.
One of the many reasons that remote working is so attractive is because you can work from anywhere. While technically this is true, this can be a blessing and a curse. You may be able to join your friends on every vacation, but there’s a caveat– you still have to work.
If you travel solo, you can enjoy the scenery on long lunches and in the evenings, but your work still needs to get done. It’s important to prioritize work, but make sure you’re being productive so you can enjoy wherever you happen to be– quite the balancing act. Also, don’t forget the time zone changes! Your 12 pm check in with your California client turns into 9 pm in Europe, and 2 am (or later) in Southeast Asia!
Myth #4: It’s Free!
Remote working does not come without a cost. When working from coffee shops or coworking spaces, prices can add up. Also, your MacBook is going to get quite a bit of action. You want to make sure you have the proper insurance, after all if you don’t have a laptop– you can’t make money!
Depending on the nature of your remote work, your costs will change. If you’re self-employed, you will likely need to invest in an accountant, some efficiency tools (ex. Slack), a contract, a lawyer, a conferencing platform, advertising to gain clients…. The list goes on! While you will experience quite a bit more freedom, that freedom isn’t necessarily free.
Myth #5: You can go home whenever you want!
In remote working, you can make your own hours, which is one of the greatest things about it. However, this double-edged sword can lead to overworking and unrealistic expectations of your time from friends. Since you’re not technically going to work every day to face a boss, people assume that your time is expendable and you’re available at all hours of the day.
If you’re working until projects are done, sometimes it’s hard to ‘go home’ leading to overworking. On the other hand, if you’re not intrinsically motivated, you may find yourself not working enough! To battle these challenges:
- Make yourself a schedule and practice schedule chunking,
- Leave room for some ‘you time’, walks, exercise, etc.,
- Explain remote work to family and friends,
- Find what motivates you, maybe it’s a coworking buddy, a space or maybe it’s some solo work. Whatever it is– follow it!
Now that the myths have been debunked– I have to say, remote work is still fantastic. Nothing beats the freedom of being able to travel and work from wherever, whenever with no set schedule. But, it can be challenging and definitely takes time to get accustomed to. In order to get acclimated quickly, I recommend planning a separate workspace, scheduling time for yourself, creating realistic expectations, and creating your own deadlines. Now get back to work!
Cara Chatellier is a digital marketing strategist & content writer who works completely remotely. She loves podcasts, exploring new cities, making vocal impersonations, and being with her family and friends. You can reach her here at firstname.lastname@example.org or carachatellier.com.