At first glance, remote work looks like it has all the perks and none of the frustrations of an office job. No dress code. No commute. No loudmouth neighbor in the next cubicle. Freedom to stay home or travel or visit the beach whenever you want. But remote work has its challenges, just like anything else. And some of those challenges stem directly from the things we love most about it.
No mandatory office hours? Great! But what happens when that urgent email comes in after dinner, or a client wants to call you on the weekend?
Easy access to the beach? Dream come true, right? But what happens when you can’t enjoy your favorite activities there, or the week is filled with stress, because you have to bring work along and you keep putting out ‘virtual’ fires?
Working remotely is a wonderful blessing, and sometimes the only feasible job option — but it’s not without frustrations. Here’s what the #WITeam loves and hates about remote work.
What We Love
Flexibility of being able to work anytime, anywhere—
- Scheduling our work hours for the times when we’re most productive, and taking breaks during our “off hours” to clear our minds and recharge.
- Working around kids’ school schedules, activities, nap times, or bedtimes — without paying someone else to watch them every day.
- Being able to work ahead to sync time off with other family member’s work schedules and/or working during vacation, without having to take actual unpaid vacation days.
- Fitting work around the rest of life: personal needs that pop up during the day, phone calls with family members, walk breaks with our pets, school or volunteer activities that often happen during standard work hours.
“I love being able to work in the early morning hours and knock things out while the kids are asleep (especially in the summer or on school breaks), which means that later in the day I can say “yes” to doing things with them.” – Carrie K.
Freedom from office hassles—
- No commute to waste time, fuel, and wear and tear on our vehicles.
- No official dress code — we have freedom to choose comfort in yoga pants and no makeup, or dress for a professional mindset (right down to the pearls, as team member Carrie prefers) — whichever works better for each person on each day.
- No sterile, windowless cubicle life — I get a window view in my favorite room of the house, and others routinely work by their pool or backyard patio.
- No inane water-cooler talk, office ‘Chatty Kathy’, or nuisance interruptions from coworkers.
- No office bathroom or public restroom, and no stale office air to make us sick.
- No bland coffee or bagged lunches.
“Time is valuable and not wasting it in the car is great, not to mention the savings on gas . . . Being able to get started earlier and end my day earlier than if I had to [commute/get ready for work] leaves more time for all of life’s other responsibilities.” – Sarah K.
- Working alone means fewer interruptions, more extended periods of productivity, and better focus (especially for introverts!).
- Relying on our own self-discipline and motivation not only results in better work, but helps us build character too.
- More opportunity for creative freedom.
- Working with a great team, even though we are spread across the country.
“I like the freedom of skipping a trip to the office on snow days or when there is other bad weather. I have the best of both worlds with splitting time between the office and home so there’s nothing I really dislike about this set-up.” – Becky R.
What We Hate
No face-to-face interaction—
- Communication takes longer and it’s more difficult to keep the team on the same processes.
- As a newbie, it’s sometimes tough to not be able to walk over to the office/desk of the person you need an answer from.
- It’s harder to catch onto inside jokes when you miss conversations that are taking place virtually.
- No team lunches or in-office contests to build camaraderie and have fun together (see how we get around that here).
“I love surprising co-workers with coffee and I can’t do that… but maybe I’ll just send bags of coffee to people’s doorstep.” – Lindsey V.
No official boundaries or “work hours”—
- Always being “on” — feeling like we need to answer client emails during dinner, take work calls over the weekend, or work on tasks during family vacations.
- Handling in-home distractions like laundry, maintenance, or noisy pets (dogs + lawn service + client call is a BAD combo!) while trying to focus intently on a task or important call.
- Guilt trips from those who don’t see remote work as a “real job” with real commitments, and assume we’re always available for lunch, errands, or volunteer activities.
The Bottom Line
The truth is, fitting work around the rest of life is wonderful and messy and rewarding and unpredictable. We must learn to balance the comforts of being home with the expectations of those around us, both from our communities and families as well as our clients and coworkers. But we grow through it all, and our work is better because of that.
In the words of one team member . . .
“The only downside is that I don’t live on a tropical beach. Although that might be more distracting, I dare say.” – Mike D.
Tell us something! If you work remotely, what do you love or hate about it?