I started to work in 2012 in Software Development and in those times the notion of working remotely was not even on my radar. Even during university years, my idea of success was to find a good corporation, start from the ground and built my career way up into that same company that, of course, will be paying me a lot of money. And I did that. Or at least for a while.
Many things have changed since then, not only on the professional side of things, but also in my personal life. I found that what pleased me in the beginnings in a job, now is something that I try to avoid at all costs. And that would not have happened if I would’t have changed companies whenever I felt they are not for me, because it helped me discover what I actually like.
The first time I heard about working remotely was in university from a couple of people that were freelancers. And in the IT world that means you are self-employed and using a platform to search for your clients. Sometimes you might have multiple clients, sometimes you might have none, always being unsure about the amount of future work. I kind of liked that idea, but being at the beginning of the road, the uncertainty was not appealing to me. So, I boxed it in my brain as being something that I will not do.
Until two of my friends, two dreamers that I am very grateful to have known them for making me see another perspective, that said they found remote jobs and they will travel the world for a year while working. I remember those times when most of our friends didn’t understand it, including myself. Of course, everyone thought they are courageous by doing this, but there was this unknown element for us that made us think it isn’t possible. Funny thing is now, a few years later, almost all in our friends group have remote jobs and travel the world.
So, the perspective is now changed. I am on the other side of the pond, with people thinking the same way that I was thinking about working remotely. I am not a freelancer, I just work for a company that allows its employees to work from wherever they want. People who understand they have only admiration, but people who are not they have a little judgement. For them, I sometimes feel this is both an awesome thing and a bad one. And maybe all of it happens because of some misconceptions people keep having about work in general.
So I will try to bust some of the myths and maybe with this post I will change the perspective of some of you, the way my friends did it for me. Also, keep in mind that I am only talking from a software developer perspective, so my opinions could mean zero in other work fields.
You can’t work without supervision
I heard numerous time managers saying that they prefer people being in the office because it’s the only way to be sure their employees are working. Or measuring overtime by just counting the hours spent in the office. Well, this is the wrong idea from the start. It’s like they already admit their employees are not motivated enough to work and they will do it by only having a scary supervisor behind them by all means. Or that there is no other way to measure their productivity other than their presence in one place.
Your work/productivity should never be evaluated by counting hours or presence. Your work should be evaluated in results. You could be present in the office 12 hours a day and still not produce any results. Of course you can measure velocity: how much you can produce in the office versus how much you can produce working from home, but you always have results (omg, could I not have thrown a corporate word in there 🙂 ).
Also, it is about trust, which is the most important. Not trusting your employees they actually work when out of office is like not trusting yourself building the right team. If people work better in the office, that is awesome, that means you chose the right people. Trust them too.
So, the misconception I want to erase from this section is that people who work from home can’t actually be trusted because they don’t have a supervisor.
People who work from home are not serious about work
Oh wow, can I roll my eyes harder about this? I heard this a few times and is also confirmed by the questions I often get asked: ‘Do you see it ok in the long run?’, ‘How long are you planning to keep doing it?’. Like working from home is just a phase, a rebellion that will fade out when I will get it out of my system.
Falling outside the norms. Probably this is what’s causing all the judgement. But working from home is as serious as an office job or any other kind of job. It requires responsibility, self-organising and planning almost all the time. Your personal life and work life might get merged and you might need to train your brain to switch between the two faster. You might find yourself working night hours and sleeping less.
For me, apart from the advantages this lifestyle comes with, working from wherever brought more challenges than having an office job. So, saying about a remoter that he/she is not serious about work is a misjudgement. I think that even by choosing a remote job, it shows a person is quite serious about their career.
You have all the time in the world
Working from home does not mean sleeping all day. Does not mean we have all the time in the world for ourselves. Does not mean we can run errands or help other people that work in offices with theirs because they can’t leave the office. Working from home does not mean cheating the working system. It actually means work and sometimes even more than you would do in an office.
A thing it also means is flexibility. It is appreciated more than anything else and is the main reason I chose to do it. But, the thing that I think is the hardest to understand by people around me is that if I skip work days I actually need to recover the lost time.
I sometimes find it harder to explain my family that I can’t do something they ask me to do because I have a call planned at that time or that I have a deadline to meet. So, by asking me then ‘well, don’t you work from home?’ they actually ask ‘can’t you do with your time whatever you want?’. Well, no, a job is a job no matter where you do it.
Remote work has this label on it like being a dreamy thing. I will not say it isn’t as you have this blog filled with experiences that come with it (I also advise you to read this). But I always advise people that want to start doing it to take some time to think before jumping into it. You can’t know beforehand if this lifestyle is for you, but you can get informed about what it involves. If it sounds too good to be true it usually is, so you must be comfortable with all the challenges that come with it.