Despite the existence of a global pandemic and it being 2021, the remote work structure has still not been embraced by everyone. The hesitations are understandable, but they may be rooted in misconceptions about remote work and workers. So in this article, we are looking at 7 popular remote work myths and the truth about each of them.
1. The Myth: Remote Teams Are Less Productive
Some companies hesitate to adopt the remote set-up because they think employees would be less motivated and productive under it. A number of points influence this perception. Firstly, it is believed that the home is too relaxing an environment for a serious worker. Next, there are much more temptations outside the office that come from the bed, tv, family members, roommates, etc. Besides that, there is a misconception that employee productivity is only possible when workers are in the physical company of their supervisors and colleagues.
It is possible that some employees may abuse the opportunity to work from home and not perform optimally. Nevertheless, more often than not, remote work can improve productivity. Great Place to Work studied over 800,000 employees from Fortune 500 companies; the study showed that productivity increased when remote work took over from March to August of 2020. What could be the reasons? To begin with, the comfortable and relaxed home environment may improve the attitude of workers, and make them feel less on edge. Furthermore, when employees are allowed to work remotely, they feel empowered and trusted; this motivates them to deliver better work, and not misuse the freedom given. Also with remote work, staff members are able to organize their schedules and operate in a way that suits their unique personalities and situations, resulting in higher productivity. Lastly, working from home saves time, such as commute time, that can be used to work.
Indeed, remote workers could be tempted to chat idly with family members and roommates; however, the temptation exists in the office as well, but with colleagues.
To conclude, if expectations and deadlines are clearly outlined, and there is effective communication, the chances of a worker slacking off are very low, whether they work at the office or elsewhere.
2. The Myth: Remote Work Destroys Company Culture and Community
Is it possible to create a strong and welcoming community for staff when no one can meet face-to-face? This is a crucial question to ask because strong company culture and community influences everything, from how productive employees are to how successful staff collaboration is, and down to the way decisions are made. For some, the answer to the question is no. Some individuals believe that remote work cannot foster a strong community and company culture because in-person communication is limited, and there are little or no physical staff retreats or events such as networking, workshops and dinners.
If community could not be built online, communities on Facebook and reddit would not be thriving. More so, exciting community-bonding activities can still be organized online; it’s about how much care is given to planning and executing the events. Besides that, if one hires people who are passionate about the company from the get go, a strong company culture can still be a reality, even with remote work. In addition, companies should value communication, and recognize employees’ achievements. As a result, workers will likely not feel left out.
3. The Myth: Remote Workers Are Lonely
This assumption is tied to the previous myth. When some people think of remote work, what fills their minds are images of sad-looking employees huddled up and working quietly in dark corners of rooms, with no form of human interaction. The perception is that since workers are not in the same location, some may be carrying out tasks on their own. This is an important misconception to address because loneliness can engender demotivation and depression, as well as obstruct worker’s access to networking opportunities.
To begin with, a staff member could work in the most jam-packed office and still feel isolated. It is not about the quantity of people employees are surrounded by, but about their participation in fruitful relationships, as well as the efforts made by companies to make their staff feel welcomed. Furthermore, just because employees are not working in the same office, does not mean they should be without human interaction. Remote workers can join online co-working spaces where they will meet individuals from all over the world and form many diverse relationships. Also, when the pandemic comes to an end, remote workers can decide to operate from outside their home: they could work at coffee shops, their friends’ houses, libraries, or even in-person co-working spaces. That’s not all: if the company encourages online communication and collaboration, then the remote staff will have many opportunities to engage with one another. Quite often, the nature of remote work necessitates more communication among employees, so the idea of less interaction will likely not be the norm.
4. The Myth: Communication Suffers Under The WFH Structure
A team without great communication is like a spoon without a handle; therefore, people fear remote work because they believe that communication cannot thrive under it. It is likely that the people who buy into this myth are equating overall communication to in-person communication. In other words, they could be viewing in-person communication as the only form of successful communication. Another layer to this myth is the fact that some workers live in different locations; consequently, different time zones make quick and instantaneous conversations complicated. Lastly, when communicating online, staff members may find it harder to get their thoughts across, as their facial cues and body language may not be detected, even on video calls.
Is talking face-to-face more desirable? Yes. Does that mean communication among remote teams is hopeless? Absolutely not, the only thing is that it may require more effort. Furthermore, innovations such as slack, social media platforms, email, and zoom have made effective communication easier. The technology can even be utilized for non-work communication i.e., there can be weekly online coffee breaks. Besides that, the communication channels and the time periods when employees are available have to be identified early on, in order to set up clear expectations concerning communication. Lastly, online communication methods can actually enrich conversations because people may not have to speak immediately; therefore, they have the opportunity to meditate on their words before saying them. This helps them to form better statements and present disagreements in a more respectful manner.
5. The Myth: Managing Remote Staff Is Nearly Impossible
To some, it seems like the remote team is a manager’s worst nightmare. An even deeper assumption is that managers cannot work remotely. The viewpoint is that since remote workers are not working in the same physical environment as their managers, the latter cannot conveniently monitor how tasks progress and how workers spend their time.
This assumption is flawed because it implies that great management rests on the ability to see the employees. However, great management is about the ability to get a team of people to accomplish a task and to perform in a manner that aligns with company values. This goal relies more on skills and the proper tips than on proximity to staff. We’ve already discussed tips on how to manage remote staff successfully, which you can find here. As an example, most of the projects we carry out at RemotePass are managed remotely with the help of slack, notion, and email.
Another point to remember is that a good number of employees do not appreciate it when their managers micromanage their lives; it reveals that no trust is placed on them, and it could make them less enthusiastic about their work. Lastly, it can be good to give employees more flexibility over their work routines. Although one can be a knowledgeable supervisor, one cannot know an employee better than the employee does. The employee probably has the best insight on how he or she can work best to reach targets.
6. The Myth: Remote Work Is Just for A Few Jobs
It is common to associate remote work with a group of people, e.g. entry-level staff, freelancers, and IT professionals. Individuals are of the opinion that roles such as manager and CEO cannot be performed successfully from outside the office. In addition, some assume that remote work is reserved for those who did not experience career advancement. Moreover, freelancers and full-time employees are expected to operate remotely and, in the office, respectively. This is due to the fact that freelancers work with companies on a contract basis and are usually not part of the company’s culture or long-term goals.
Simply put, remote work is not just for a select group of individuals. Freelancers and other remote workers do not usually choose remote work because it is what they could get; they choose remote work because of its advantages: the convenience, familiar environment, flexibility, and freedom. Additionally, freelancers, and remote workers in general, are not unprofessional and inexperienced people; they are known for their expertise in their particular fields, that is why companies look to them to carry out specialized projects. Another point is that even CEOs and managers can work from home, given the availability of excellent tools for communication, project management, design, data, etc.
7. The Myth: Remote Work Is Only Possible for Small Teams
“Even if remote work is possible, it can only be done in a small or young company.” The reasoning behind the previous statement is that a small or young team means less issues with coordinating time zones, shorter chains of commands, and less people to manage and communicate with online; consequently, online collaboration will not be so complicated. Also, meetings and company events will be more effective, because the smaller number of participants implies that nobody will be ignored. Furthermore, it appears easier to pinpoint who is responsible for a project.
The pandemic has shown that even large companies can operate on a remote work structure. Business Insider reported on 21 big companies, including Uber, Google, Airbnb, and Apple, that allowed their employees to work remotely long term. Furthermore, large companies can usually afford great technology to make remote operations easier. In addition, large companies, and businesses in general, can adopt the hybrid model to take leverage the best of the remote and in-person work set-ups
Now it’s your turn! Comment below what myths about remote work you’ve heard or believed, or your general opinions about remote work.