Where the Sweet Perks of Remote Working Go Sour

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This is a guest post by our friends over at NOMAD. Caroline Lang will walk you through the pros and cons of working remotely.

The long list of pros for remote working

Digital nomads and remote workers have begun to create a subculture. Their ways of working oppose the standardized 9–5 rhythm that a lot of corporate and small businesses still find themselves in.

They utilize their flexibility to work in personalized peak productive times – whether that’s late at night or at 5 o’clock in the morning.

As location independents, they get to enjoy the added benefit of being able to work from anywhere. The flexibility of working remotely allows you to create the ideal workspace and working environment for yourself. Countless individuals swear by it as a lifestyle – citing money and time saved as a major perk.

It makes sense: working from home drastically reduces the costs usually spent on your commute, your workwear, even your morning coffee and lunch break.

Similarly, remote work gets rid of that chunk of time you’d spend sat on the tube, subway or bus, giving you valuable time in the mornings and evenings to get work done.

Remote working also allows you to better focus on non-work related matters – from spending time with your children to taking your dog for a walk to caring for a loved one.

Likewise, the extra time enables you to prioritize your own personal wellbeing: you can spend that rescued hour in the morning at the gym or take enough time to cook a healthy meal at night.

The perks are certainly plentiful – enough to make your everyday 9-5er turn green with envy – and the list for the pros of working remotely can go on and on.

Nevertheless, recent studies have shown that remote working can have significant downsides – often leading to burnout. Admittedly, this can be a little difficult to understand when you look at Nomadic Matt or Connie Biesalski’s Instagrams at the beach. How can someone who gets to work in their pajamas or with a piña colada in their hand suffer from burnout?

It’s not always pajamas or piña coladas: The downside of remote working

Remote workers like Nermin Hajdarbegovic have noted that a lot of their burnout-like symptoms stem from the fact that the rest of their team is still in an office environment.

If you’re part of a larger business but only one of few remote workers, it’s not only easy to feel somewhat excluded, but also to feel like you have to prove yourself.

When you’re sat two desks away from your CEO, it’s easy to see your hard work. You can get by with room for compromise when others sense your presence within the office – even if a lot of work doesn’t actually happen at work.

Remote workers find themselves having to work harder and longer to demonstrate concrete results – proof, so their team and their managers can say, ‘Yeah, they really are working hard.’

Staying online longer, responding to emails late at night or setting shorter deadlines are all ways in which remote workers seek to emphasize their worth within a company – without realizing the effect this can have on their health. There are solutions to staying productive while working from home:

  • Speak to your manager about ways to clock in and out, even from home.
  • Apps like Toggl can facilitate this process.
  • There’s also project management software like Asana that creates overviews of everyone’s tasks within the team.

That way your manager can understand the projects you are working on and the deadlines you are working towards without having to check in constantly.

Set yourself goals for each week, present them to your boss and say ‘This is what I’ll have achieved by Friday.’

That’s all it takes really; remote working is predominantly based on trust.

If you can’t trust your employee to work from home as much as they would in the office, you’re either not ready for this new way of working or you probably shouldn’t have hired them in the first place.

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Don’t be kept home alone, find other remote workers

Unlike Kevin McAllister, chances are the most exciting part of your day is when the Deliveroo guy rings your doorbell.

Remote working comes with the ease of having everything on-demand; when you’re sleepy, you’ve got your bed, when you’re hungry, you know where the fridge is and so on.

A trip to the post office or a walk around the block quickly becomes justification for spending the rest of the day in your slippers – with little social contact at all.

With all its perks, remote working can come with the huge side effect of loneliness.

Whether you’re a freelancer or part of a larger team, losing the social aspect of work can have serious effects on your mental health, let alone your physical.

Going to an office forces you to be on-the-move and being physically present with your colleagues is still a much better environment for collaborating than Skype from your dining room table.

As such, remote workers have to jump through extra hoops to avoid suffering from a lack of team cohesion.

The battle against loneliness can be fought by considering other places to work from.

Coworking spaces are ideal for remote workers – they come with the added benefits of bottomless coffee and free networking events, not to mention the curated community of like-minded individuals.

Working in a space that is filled by other location independents can do wonders for your well-being, give you a good sense of when others switch off for the day, and surrounding yourself with friendly faces can contribute to preventing burnout.

If you start cracking under pressure, the community around you will notice and provide support – something your cat at home can’t.

There are several apps and platforms that make it easier to stay in the loop with the rest of your team if you’re working remotely:

  • Skype for regular calls,
  • Slack for instant messaging
  • Zoom for online meetings can all contribute towards maintaining your network and touching base with your coworkers.

Self-control can be an issue

As much as there’s a danger of not working enough when you’re out of the office – getting distracted by household chores or your favorite Netflix series – a lot of remote workers actually find that self-control is needed to do just the opposite: finding the will to stop working.

Home can easily become misconstrued as the workplace, which means that work starts influencing our daily routine: checking emails at breakfast, finishing up a blog post or replying to a customer in bed.

The question then becomes: When does the work end?

It takes a great amount of self-control to not let work take over if there’s no one around to monitor you.

When you start doing too much and working longer hours for less money, it’s crucial to find a way to manage your own time.

Find technology, like Toggl, that will let you log in and out so you and your managers can track exactly how long you’re working per day. Not only will it reassure you that you are doing enough but it will also give your team an idea of the hours you’re putting in.

Give yourself a deadline each day to log off by, even if the work for that day will have to be picked up again tomorrow.

Health and wellbeing still come first and staying up for hours on end is not worth the burnout you’ll experience.

Switching off can help you better switch on

When you don’t let your subconscious become active, it can drastically reduce creativity. Without a proper work-life balance, it can be difficult to allow your subconscious to truly take charge because you’re constantly switched on.

Strategic thinking and creative problem solving are dependant on your ability to activate the subconscious.

Remote workers are prone to falling into this trap – if you’re still checking your emails before bed, you’ll struggle to truly let your mind switch off and relax. Here are some useful ways to boost your creative mind:

  • Schedule in some down time and commit to a window for exercise or meditation
  • Keeping a gratitude journal
  • Change scenery every few days. It can be as simple as having breakfast on the terrace or taking a bubble bath at night.

A final say on the pros and cons of working remotely

The perks of remote working are very charming and they can lure you in easily. Saving money and gaining time are certainly high motivators to stick it out at home.

But treat yourself as if you’re in the office by developing a work-from-home schedule that works for you.

Perhaps next time you’re feeling overworked and stressed out, you’ll consider mixing up your routine a bit, try out a coworking space and teach yourself when to say “That’s enough for today.” So to you remote workers out there in every time zone: good morning, bon appetit and good night.


About the author:

Caroline Lang lists the pros and cons of working remotelyCaroline Lang runs the Marketing and Content for NOMAD, an on-demand workspace provider in London. She specializes in the delivery of meaningful and inspirational content at the intersection of work and life and gets excited by the possibilities of tomorrow.

 

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About the author
Adam Rogers

Adam Rogers is the Content Marketing Manager at Kayako, the effortless customer service software that helps teams be more productive and build customer loyalty. Adam loves guitars, music, books, and his wife Lacey.

  • Marina Pilipenko

    The biggest Con of working remotely for me is that it is hard to be seen as productive employee in the eyes of both manager and the team. You start to work harder than you did in the office and the whole point of going remote might be lost.

    I agree that time-tracking and project-tracking tools help in this matter. For instance timesheet software actiTIME allows to track time by tasks, set deadlines and estimates. The managers can access this information anytime and get real overview of your achievements.

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