Ever heard this?
“Remote meetings are great but nothing works better than actual face-time in real life.”
True or not true? Comments below if you wish.
But let’s take a look at what three influencers, with mature opinions abou the pros and cons of working remotely actually said, and how they see remote work evolving as it becomes more common. We also got some revealing insights into the current state of remote work, and some tips and advice for people who might be thinking about switching to remote work.
The statistics point to an ever increasing number of people across the world working from their laptops. Great! No more boss, no more traffic jams, and a lie-in every day, right?
Well yes, there are some great perks, but it’s all too true that making the transition to remote work is big undertaking. It’s disruptive to anybody who is used to commuting to the office and working ‘traditionally’. One of the hardest challenges is the lack of experience in remote work from the company side.
If you are moving remote through a company, the organisation may (or may not) have strategy in place from HR to provide the assistance you need, according to Jérôme Petazzoni:
For remote work to work, either you or your team (or organization) should know how to do it. If your first experience with remote work is in a team who has never done it before, it will be particularly difficult. You should also be aware of the difference between "remote first" and "remote friendly" cultures in organizations.
Companies advertise their “friendliness” to remote work. But you can smell a rat, right? The concept of “remote-first” is to build the structures of the business around the practices you will find in remote-work, even if the staff are on-site.
Having a Slack forum is a kind-a-cool way to show your business is remote-friendly. Workers chat and share memes as the day goes by, it’s fun. But a remote-first attitude is an ideological shift to working more efficiently remotely, and taking bold steps to fundamentally change what we consider working remotely to be. Check out what Laurel Farrer had to say on this:
In a virtual work environment, [management, communication and experience] all have to be carefully designed. The support, accountability, motivation, and accessibility that one gets in a colocated environment is suddenly 100% their responsibility. So, it is crucial for any virtual worker to acknowledge that remote work is different and to get equipped with the tools, habits, and strategies that are unique to this lifestyle.
It takes more than a communication platform to have a fully remote business: A frequent complaint in traditional office work is about the time wasted in endless, soul-destroying meetings. So how is the experience we all have of futile, endless strategy meetings transferable to a remote business? Is there an opportunity here to increase efficiency?
That is the golden answer, which technology is trying to solve. To have a remote platform where teams can meet and share information quickly, without the need to waste time. So with some clever thinking, we can expect to see remote work actually driving more efficiency and at the same time, giving people back their personal time.
The opportunity to take more of your time and your work into your hands is one of the biggest benefits you can have. Robert O’Kruk offers some motivating advice to anyone who wishes to take the step toward remote work:
The golden piece of advice I would offer is to take advantage of the freedom, low cost of living, or decreased working hours that remote work allows. Use this time or money to focus on what you're passionate about. Create projects you care about or spend time doing what you love.
So if you are thinking about leaving the office: Why? Why really really, do you want to go remote? Sipping a Gin and Tonic at two in the afternoon, overlooking the Danube? I guess it’s easy to believe that if you have more flexible time, you will have a more pleasant lifestyle, you can live anywhere and there won’t be that much to do.
Once you are on your own, the work needs to get done, and if you say yes to too much, you can end up with a cliff-edge scenario. You take on so much that no matter what you do, there’s always work left unfinished. You lose the odd client not by being slow, but by simply not having the time, and losing track of the projects.
This is a common scenario for remote workers. Laurel Farrer:
Even after working remotely for 12 years, burnout is the battle that I still have to fight on a regular basis. I love my work, so my passion for it combined with 24 hour access to my "office," my hard work ethic, and my tendency for perfectionism is kind of a recipe for disaster. It's not uncommon for me to bury myself so deeply in a project that I skip meals and sleep for several days in a row.
There is a double edged-sword here. You can work in the field you choose, and it makes your work more enjoyable. But you can completely lose track of cost-time ratios and end up working for less than you expect. Even though what you are doing is what you want to do, it’s still a job, and there are still bills to pay. Laurel’s mitigating strategy:
To stay balanced, I have to enforce strict time blocking rules and office hours, completely unplug during personal time, and clearly articulate KPIs to maintain my work-life balance.
It takes a little time to find the groove of your working day. But everyone goes through it, and everyone (at least that I know) comes out the other side with better discipline.
I have burnt out while self employed. For me it was directly related to working on projects I was not passionate about and working too many hours. My advice to avoid burning out is to set times that you stick to where you're online and working. Pair that up with some daily yoga and meditation and you'll be thriving.
Compare this to Jerome’s answer:
I haven't developed something successful [to avoid burnout], unfortunately (independently of working in an office or from home).
Even the most experienced remote workers find it hard to juggle projects, make time, and even spend time with family. So when you ask yourself, why, why really do I want to take up remote work. Try not to think too much about sun-loungers by the pool, summed up perfectly by Laurel Farrer:
Flexibility and independence aren't the substitutes for hard work, they are the reward for it.
If you would like to speak directly with remote workers to ask questions and find out about their experiences, the Digital Nomad’s Forum has thread on every topic and is well modded by Robert and his team.
And if you would to see more from the contributors to this post, here are their details:
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