So, the COVID-19 outbreak has caused the world’s largest work from home experiment. The virus is sending ripple effects worldwide, including a push for employees to work remotely.
And it isn’t all bad. The benefits are pretty clear: zero commute, no office distractions, higher productivity and more time for family and friends.
Sounds like a dream come true? Almost, but this flexibility comes with trade-offs. For those that work from home, can you relate to these frustrations about remote work?
One of the greatest pitfalls of remote work is isolation. You don’t get the ‘vibe’ from a bustling office or the casual chatter with colleagues. And it’s beyond that too – there isn’t much interaction with the wider world, save for that coffee that you’ve ordered.
Even for those who are intrinsically introverts, remote work forces us to work harder to have human connections. Over time, it can make us isolated and lonely. You may feel alone, even when you are connected to so many people online at one time.
It is harder than it sounds to do conference calls surrounded by your kids. Or you might have family members bugging you to get chores down – definitely a dampener to productivity. And you don’t get that deep focus mode you were expecting even after escaping overly social colleagues in the office.
Yes, you are home on a weekday, but that doesn’t mean you are available for personal duties. Family members might not understand the concept of remote work and give you the privacy that you need.
Plus, when you are in the comforts of home, who’s to stop you from a quick nap?
#3 Blurred Lines Between Work And Home Life
With work just a screen away in this always-connected world, workers may feel their professional and personal lives become increasingly intertwined.
As remote workers, there’s a greater responsibility to be reachable and available at all times. This makes boundaries hard to follow, work can easily flow into personal time and employees may find it harder to shut down after work.
Work is infinite. With a traditional office, it is easier to leave what you do at the workplace. But without an office routine, remote workers might find it hard to stop on time. Giving in to an urge to check something real quick may just spiral into an all-night session, again.
It sounds silly, but feeling guilt as a remote worker is more common than you think.
Remote workers often feel guilty for having flexible work arrangements. While there’s the freedom to run personal errands in the middle of the afternoon, you may feel terrible doing so.
Say you took the afternoon off for a doctor’s appointment. Remote workers tend to feel that they are getting things done ‘on company time’. Such uneasiness may force you to pay it back more than others. And the guilt may send you right back to work after visiting the doctor, working into the night or weekends to make up for it.
In comparison, you might not even experience such guilt if you were at the office slacking off, browsing the web or going for a coffee run.
#5 Barriers To Collaboration And Communication
Advocates will remind you of all the apps and tools available for remote teams to stay connected. Slack, Zoom, Asana, Todoist, the list goes on…
But it’s still a lot of effort put in for smooth team communication and team bonding, compared to a traditional office setting. Not that it’s not worth it, but it’s always a steep start.
When it comes to new tools, you’ll have to endure the tech frustrations. How does this even work?
Plus, remote work makes it harder to speak to your colleagues. You can’t just swing by your co-workers desk for a quick question. Communication becomes… troublesome. Not a plus point for sure.
Remote work is also less suitable for collaborative work and innovation. Face-to-face interaction still triumphs for innovation an developing relationships, so if remote work is supposed to replace that, it’ll take lots of effort.
Which will make your remote working experience a tad less rosy.
#6 Environment Not As Conducive As The Office
If you don’t have a conducive environment to work from home, remote work can be tough.
Cafes might sound like an obvious alternative, but anyone who has tried to look for a decent café to work from all day can tell you it’s harder than it sounds.
A place with stable WiFi, plenty of plugs, and fairly large tables? Where you won’t be chased out?
I don’t know about you, but the only place that ticks off all that is my office.
Or co-working spaces, if you are willing to fork out the fee.
Point being, there’s hardly anywhere better to work from than home or office. So if you don’t exactly have a nice set-up for the former, remote work isn’t going to be a bed of roses for you.
Save for the rare few who can permanently work from cafes.
Far From Rosy
Are the downsides of remote work bearable for you?
Remote work is not without its challenges. First-time remote workers may be caught off guard by the sheer number of inconveniences. And it might take a while to get used to new routines, or for companies to improve on remote work policies.
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