Wondering Wanderer

So you too want to work remotely?

August 12, 2019

First it was individual offices, then cubicles, then open floorplans followed by remote friendly workplaces. The reality is that some of us have always been more productive working remotely. However it seems lately that working remotely has been sold as the magical cure for team performance. In my opinion, not quite.

It takes a certain personality type to pull it off

If you want to work remotely so that you could juggle your other responsibilities, you are probably doing it for the wrong reason. It’s true that it is convinient to toss in a load a laundry while you work. I admit, I’ve been known to fold laundry during a conference call to help me focus. However, this is a side benefit, not a reason to work remote. Can you organize your day by priorities and stick to it even when there are other obstacles in your way (a sick kid, running to the grocery store because you forgot last night, your dog had puppies)? Your employer is not paying you to do your chores when you work remotely. If you want the flexibility to do your work in chunks, what you really are looking for is flex work arrangement, not remote work.

It takes a certain space to provide the means

Do you have dedicated space for your work area in your home or wherever you work? Trust me, coffee shops get old very quickly and are painful for everyone else on the conference call. Do you have reliable internet connection that can support your daily workflow? I admit, I have failed a few times to secure decent enough internet connection and have had to fall back to regular phone lines to get work done. Do you require frequent breaks to socialize with co-workers during the day? Probably not a good choice for you either.

It takes a certain team to make it work

Not all teams are created equal - some require face to face time, some never meet in person. If most of your team can only function in the same physical space and decisions are made in hallway conversations, you are better off finding a new team if you alone are going to be remote. Everyone on the team, including management, needs to buy into remote work or the consequences are miscommunication, missed deadlines and frustrated stakeholders. If the overall impression of remote workers within the company is that they are on “vacation” then there’s not much that can be done to adjust that misconception. Additionally, there need to be options to communicate effectively with all team members (be it Slack or some other real-time application).

Why remote works for me

I like working remotely because I am able to work without distractions and I don’t waste any time on commute. I feel more productive and motivated when I don’t have to worry about silly things like what to wear to work and if I am going to get soaked on my way to the office.

Despite being an introvert I like to get one on one time with my team - this is much easier being remote than in the office. As a side benefit when I do get to meet my team members in person I have better grasp on what’s going on in their lives.

I also like to travel - but keeping my work schedule is always number one priority over sightseeing. I have been to a few places over the last 12 months and most of the time my team has no clue where I am based: Locations I've worked from in the last 12 months

Katrin Valdre

Written by Katrin Valdre who has a permanent address in Portland, OR but does not believe in one physical location. You should follow her on Twitter