In this special Telecommute Week 2019 guest post for the Virtual Vocations blog, Corey Schaut—marketing and internal communications coordinator at Worldwide101—discusses four common remote workplace myths and gets real about the realities of life as a telecommuter.
4 Remote Workplace Myths Busted in Honor of Telecommute Week 2019
It’s the 4th annual Telecommute Week! A great time to join with our friends at Virtual Vocations to celebrate how far remote work has come in the past few years. I recently saw a statistic from GlobalWorkplaceAnalytics.com that non-self-employed work from home has grown over 140% since 2005. Remote work is no longer just something that employers begrudgingly allow on rare occasions—both employers and employees are recognizing that it’s a preferred way to work that benefits workers’ wellness and employers’ bottom lines.
That said, concern seems to persist over whether people can really be productive working outside a traditional office setting. The past couple of years have seen some large corporations moving away from remote work, all while data seems to make the case for its productivity and cost-saving benefits.
For the past seven years, Worldwide101 has been a fully remote workforce, and our experience has put us firmly in the latter camp. In honor of the millions of telecommuters who get their jobs done effectively and efficiently every day, here are four remote workplace myths that we can officially bust:
1. Quality remote positions don’t exist or are too hard to find
You CAN find quality remote work—and the fact that you’re on the Virtual Vocations blog shows you’re on the right track! There are a million great resources out there to help you get started. Sites like Virtual Vocations focus on listing legitimate, quality remote jobs for flexibility seekers. Increasing numbers of employers are realizing that experienced talent is seeking to leave behind the commute and the cubicle life in favor of the opportunity for better work-life balance that remote work can provide. New positions pop up every day, so don’t get stuck in the false notion that you can’t find a great remote job.
These jobs aren’t low-paying, unskilled gig work either. For a really long time, virtual work has been primarily associated with freelance or the “gig economy.” And while it’s true that many gig workers work virtually, that’s not the full story anymore. A lot of great companies are moving to a fully remote model for their employees—including my company, and even large corporations like Dell, Salesforce, American Express, and Xerox. These virtual employees have the same benefits and pay grades that you’d find for their corporate counterparts.
2. Work at home jobs don’t exactly require skill
This is another bogus notion about remote work–the idea that if you work virtually, it must be in admin, customer service, or sales. That’s simply not true. Many experienced people are actually leaving high-level positions at Fortune 500 companies to pursue diverse projects they’re passionate about in a remote setting—this includes marketing, project management, bookkeeping, consulting, development, and the list goes on.
It’s worth noting that remote work actually requires some very specific advanced skills which are also some of the most sought after by employers. These include traits like strong communication skills as well as the ability to be a proactive self-starter, a great time manager, and master at learning new concepts and proficiencies.
In fact, we’ve done a series of interviews with some of our team at Worldwide101 in recent months to better understand why they chose to work virtually. We thought it might help us to form our messaging and attract great new candidates for our team.
We expected the obvious answers would be the front-runners (i.e., flexibility, working at home, no commute), but we were incredibly surprised that one of the top answers we got was “continual learning.” All of our team echoed the same response: the diversity of their work with different clients in different industries and learning different tools every day was their favorite perk.
This makes sense when you stop to think about it. People are naturally curious and we all crave knowledge. Working virtually for a variety of different people or companies provides a way to engage in work and with people you may never have encountered otherwise. The constantly changing environment and demands of such work keep things exciting and you engaged, which is really what we all want in our jobs, right?
3. Who wants to sit at home alone all day? Remote work is lonely
Extroverts, don’t feel left out. You, too, can work virtually and like it! Today, companies with remote workers understand the urge for human connection in the workplace and have adapted to create ways for their teams to connect and build an inclusive culture. Some offer cool company retreats or other incentives for employees. But even without such programs, there are creative ways to get connected to coworkers when you are a remote employee.
At our company, we have a stuffed dog mascot named Pugsy. Pugsy travels the globe to visit all our different team members and does a lot of exploring in each location. Our team takes photos of Pugsy on his adventures, and we share them in a monthly newsletter (based on the photos, our team guesses where Pugsy has been for a sweet prize.)
We also have a channel on Slack called “The Watercooler” to share pictures of our kids and dogs as well as funny memes. It’s a great way to stay connected in a personal way and to get to know your remote coworkers, their personalities and quirks—all of which makes for more effective teams. We’ve even replaced the “I’ll just pop over to my neighbor’s cubicle and ask for advice” moments with our “Questions” channel, where we can crowdsource recommendations, troubleshooting, and more.
4. Working at home = pajamas and all the daytime TV you can handle
While you probably don’t need to be “dressed to impress” when you work from home, but the truth is that working at home doesn’t mean a day off. Those of us who work remotely know that treating our work seriously is the key to success. Any legitimate company offering remote positions will be setting goals and monitoring the productivity of their remote workforce as they do with employees in their office. It’s in your best interests to make sure you’re meeting the goals and standards set out for you. And, as any hardworking employee knows, giving your best effort can be difficult if you’re spending your time watching crime drama reruns in the middle of the day.
Oh, and about the pajamas: With most meetings conducted via video conference, I’ve found that it’s definitely a good idea to put on a clean shirt and look presentable, just as if I was going to a meeting in an office.
Since I’ve yet to meet with anyone in my job who appeared to be wearing loungewear during a meeting, I consider that last myth busted, along with all of the other ones that preceded it.
What about you? Have you found other remote workplace myths that you’ve been able to bust? Share your answer when you connect with Virtual Vocations on Facebook and Twitter. We’d love to hear from you!
About the Author
When she’s not losing at board games to her two children or keeping track of her husband’s crazy schedule as a police officer, Corey Schaut is the marketing and internal communications coordinator at Worldwide101. She loves to tell good stories and eat great food almost as much as she loves her family.
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