Many people are skeptical about remote working, and some of that skepticism has lead to myths being spread which paint an inaccurate picture of the true nature of remote work.
Here are a few of the myths remote workers often hear and why they’re misguided:
Myth #1: Remote Workers Need to Prove They Work
In a traditional workplace, your boss or business owner can easily find out if you’re working. Your boss can walk up to your desk and look at your computer screen or she can call you into her office to discuss what you’re working on. However, this is not the case if you’re a remote worker. Your boss can’t easily check up on you. As a result, many people believe remote workers need to consistently prove they’re working so their boss knows they’re doing their job.
This myth is dangerous because it leads people to believe they need to be always-on and respond to every email or notification as soon as possible. Many remote workers tend to be available almost all of the time so they don’t build the impression they’re not working as they should be. This can cause a number of problems.
Firstly, remote workers can often find it difficult to do any deep work when they are thinking about the fact that others may want to know if they are working. Secondly, responding to notifications during every moment you have can make it difficult for you to achieve a good work-life balance.
Remote workers are the same as regular workers. They have to work the same hours, and they have the same work to do. Sure, they’re not in an office, but that doesn’t mean they need to constantly prove they’re working. If you feel you need to prove that you work, realize this: the proof lies in your outputs.
Don’t feel that you need to prove you’re working every moment of the day. If you can meet your goals for the week, everyone will know you’ve been working. Also, you should set aside some time in your calendar for deep work and tell your coworkers you won’t be available during that time. Or set your status on Slack when you’re working on something and do not want to be distracted.
Myth #2: Remote Workers Are Available All Day
Many people assume that working remotely means you are available all the time. After all, if you work from home and spend a lot of time in your home, then it seems reasonable to assume you would be happy to work or respond to a message outside of traditional office hours.
However, this is completely false. This myth has caused many remote workers to spend more time working than they need to. This is because their home is their office, and when they’re at home, they feel as if they should be working like they would in an office.
If you’re a remote worker, you should set office hours just like everyone else. Those hours may be different than others — for example, you may like to set aside two hours each evening to work — but you need to establish them. And make sure everyone knows when you will be working.
Take the lunch breaks you need and move away from your work computer after hours. Don’t respond to messages if you’re in the middle of watching a movie before you go to bed — create a barrier between work and the rest of your life.
Luckily, many employers have begun using various remote employee time tracking services to streamline this process for everyone.
Myth #3: Remote Workers Are Lazy
This myth follows from the myth that remote workers need to prove they’re always working. Many people believe that if someone is not sitting at a desk in an office, then they are not actually working.
However, this myth is also false. Just because you’re not sitting in an office space, that does not mean you’re incapable of doing great work. If a remote employee spends time setting good goals and deadlines, and they keep the team updated with their progress, there is no reason to assume they’re lazy.
Further, people can be lazy in an office too. Most office workers will be able to name a few occasions where either they or one of their coworkers has become distracted and accomplished very little in a day because they were tired or bored.
The best way you can address this myth is to work hard and do your best to meet your goals. When you have proof you’ve been working, nobody can dispute that you’ve been productive. Interestingly, the Global Workplace Analytics Costs and Benefits survey found that teleworkers in a large number of companies actually have between 35 and 40 percent increased productivity over those working in an office.