Whenever I hear people say: "I am not made for working remotely, I won't be as productive", my first question is; "have you tried it?".
Most teams that are currently working remotely probably worried about a similar thing, but gave working remotely the benefit of the doubt and went ahead trying it out. A lot of these teams will tell you that they are just as productive working from home if not more productive.
In this post, I want to go over the most common assumptions that people tend to have when you tell them that you are working remotely. It's remarkable that most of the time the conversations turns out into the other person talking about why they are not working from home themselves.
"I won't be as productive" or "I won't be as motivated"
Sometimes we need to do a task that isn't particularly interesting but needs to get done anyway. At the office, you have your team breathing down your neck waiting for you to finish the job. At home, you don't feel that pressure and rather do some chores around the house.
You are an adult
My take on motivation and distractions when working from home is; you are an adult, you should be able to decide when it's time to work and when to take a break. Those tedious tasks are part of any job, so get them done and move on to the fun work!
Take action to avoid and allow distractions
At home, there will be no co-workers checking in on you physically. They won't be able to see exactly what you are doing and at what time. You have to be your own boss in a way, especially the boss over your distractions.
Managing distractions is not isolating yourself in your home office. It's more about managing your breaks and what you do during those breaks.
Here are some things that you could do against distractions;
- Disable every none relevant notifications, yes even those related to your work. Most of the time you get pulled out of your work by a notification which makes room to do something else for a few minutes (scrolling through social media, for example).
- If you are prone to get lost in social media, use a website blocker during your work hours. I got rid of my habit to go to Twitter on every new tab automatically. Read more about this here.
- Use a Pomodoro timer or other system that schedules your breaks for you and reminds you when it's time to work again. This way, you don't need to think about it yourself.
- Have a five-minute break? Don't open Youtube, but get up to get some coffee.
"My boss will think I am less of an employee"
Your boss won't allow you to work remotely if he/she thinks that you are not living up to their expectations. Think about it, would you still have a job at that company if they thought about you in this way?
However, I do think your boss has the responsibility to check in with the remote workforce regularly. How are they doing? How are they feeling? Do they need anything? Keep regular contact to avoid these kinds of thoughts from developing.
"I won't be able to stop working"
Buffers state of remote work report shows that 22% of remote workers have a hard time unplugging from work. The good thing is, you can do something about this too! I wrote this article about this a few months ago.
"My internet sucks at home"
Often this is more of an excuse than a real issue. Most of the time we think we need an excellent internet connection to work from home, but there are not many jobs that require you to send 100's of MB's over the internet each day. Most home internet connections now a day are perfectly capable of sending emails, documents and doing some video calls now and then.
There are still places where internet coverage isn't so great. In my opinion, your company is responsible for you having a good internet connection. For instance, Doist (the company behind Todoist and twist) offers a high-speed internet reimbursement for their employees home office.
Another solution would be to work over a mobile 4G connection, which is capable of giving you enough speed and bandwidth to get some work done. While this can get expensive, most ISP's offer a 4G solution for home use instead of maxing out your phone bill each month.
"I don't want to be lonely, and I need people around me"
Buffers report also states that 19% of the remote workers feel lonely while working remotely. This heavily depends on your personality, but there are ways to work alone from home and still have people around you.
Try to deal with loneliness the same way as you would deal with distractions - create systems.
What you can do about it as a team
Let's start with what you can do as a team. If you have a remote workforce, think about ways to bring team members together.
- Buffer created virtual water coolers, chat, or video groups which people can join whenever they feel like hanging out.
- Some remote teams schedule a weekly one on one video calls. You are not allowed to talk about projects, and the person you are talking to is picked at random. You may find out that some of your teammates are also massively into that sport you love.
What you can do about it yourself
- Instead of texting, pick up the phone.
- Go to meetups, concerts, conferences, or other events.
- Spend time with friends and family after work hours.
- Some people who work remotely, work from public spaces like cafes or co-working spaces one or two times a week.
- I like watching live streams of other people working. For me, the Science & technology community on Twitch is an ideal place for some background noise, accountability (they work, so I should work too) and small talk with other community members.
There are many options when it comes to countering loneliness, but it will not work for everyone. Some people feel much better when being in the presence of other human beings. But if you don't try working from home for a couple of weeks yourself, you'll never know for sure.