First Time in a Remote Team
It has been almost 2 months since my dream to work in a remote team came true. The feeling — a mixture between excitement, freedom and high level of responsibility. And, of course, the awkwardness of missing actual daily human interactions.
Many people told me that they would love to be on my place and work from the couch, but do they actually realise what all of this means? A recent study made among remote workers has shown that once people taste the joy of working remote, they would never go back.
This post is dedicated to all of you who need to evaluate for themselves whether working from home is their thing. What does it give you? What does it take away from you? Or at least my perspective as a newbie in that area.
Office: Obviously when you work in a regular corporate environment you will have to go to the office every single day. Even if you have the chance to occasionally do home office, you still belong to one specific location with your own desk. It is inevitable for some professions to go and do stuff in person (surgeons, builders, mechanics), but this article is not dedicated to them. At least not at this stage.
Office gives you certainty, regularity and routine. This means that every day when you wake up you know where you will go to work and that there is always a dedicated desk for you and only you. Yep, it might be boring, it might be repetitive, but at least you save yourself the hassle to consider today’s work spot.
Home: Home is where you choose it to be. You have the freedom to create your own work environment at your place and know that every morning, you will go to your home desk and that will be just you. But you can also choose to go outside. Consider co-working spaces, cafes, the calmness of the beach, the mountain bliss or any place with only one rule in mind. Proper cell phone coverage.
For people willing to explore the world, working remote gives that freedom. But although travelling is quite fun, it comes with the burden of tons of planning. Where to go, how to travel, where to sleep and work, would there be a reliable Internet connection and so on. So many things to consider, with lots of pre-planning in place, which could be a deal breaker for most of the people I know. Unless you decide to outsource that work to someone else.
Office: It is a nine to five job (in most cases). You have to be there in the morning, you will enjoy a lunch break and 1–2 more short breaks throughout the day and you leave. And that’s it. Efficiency is rarely accounted for. It might be the case that you have spent a day doing nothing but the fact that you have crossed the doors of the office, means that you have done half of your job. Once you leave the office though, you can’t be bothered with work.
Home: Daily routine at home is something totally different. Although there is still a stereotype that people working from home do nothing but lay on the couch, I will have to strongly disagree with this. You need to be at your best when it comes to time management, organisation skills and keeping yourself focussed and motivated. It is much easier to evaluate efficiency because it is based not on the time you have spent at work, but on the actual work done.
However, if we talk about a lifestyle, remote work gives you huge flexibility. If you are good at time management, this will open a great door of opportunities. Forget about the alarm clock!, spend more time with your family, do sports, enjoy simple things in life and have your freedom. Something that a regular job can hardly give you.
I am no expert in other fields, so I can only share my insight and experience working within the IT industry.
Office: Meetings, meetings and meetings again. I cannot understand how people could come up with such a large number of unnecessary meetings to discuss whatever. Some days you may even think that offices are built to facilitate meetings. On the other hand, it might be the case that what you are doing requires personal contact. Or you are the kind of person to take things forward only once you meet someone in person. Or you just cannot imagine being stuck somewhere alone to do your job. Well, in such cases, that is fair enough. Don’t consider running away from the office.
Home: Being a sales person, where my job is to establish relationships with other businesses, that could be a tough one. In this role face to face meetings have an important aspect. But so what? Living in today’s economy everyone is so busy that the chance to meet them happens only once you have passed a few levels of internal evaluation. And why not meet elsewhere following that? Why stay stuck at the office? As long as you are close to your target market, working from home would actually give you more flexibility to come up with creative places where you can easily do your pitch.
Office: Only people who have spent enough time in an office know how busy and distracting that could be. Putting lots of people at one place where they spent most of their lives together, means that you get to deal with all sorts of emotions. “I cannot stand that guy and refuse to accept his ideas”, “She is so annoying”, “Isn’t it too hot in here?”, “How about switching that light off? My eyes hurt.”, “Why am I seated away from that window? Can’t see a thing.” That list can last forever. And that could be you in there — trying to do your job and get caught up in all that drama. It is certainly not for everyone.
But as much as having lots of people together could be a challenge sometimes, it is still a great asset to work with people side by side. Undoubtedly you share ideas much easier, faster and brainstorming sessions in person are something I would never want to replace.
Home: Working from home can often be lonely. That is why remote workers have dozens of tools to use to keep themselves productive and at the same time maintain a good and constant relationship with the rest of the team. Loneliness can be minimised in a way if you have the chance to meet your mates and work together in a fun setting.
And now the actual evaluation of whether that kind of lifestyle is suitable for you. It is 3 points against 1 for me. And the winner is — my home. How about you?