In honor of Friday the 13th 2017, we’re clarifying 13 telecommuting myths about home-based professionals and the telecommuting lifestyle.
Over 3.5 million people work from home at least half the time, according to a recent report from GlobalWorkplaceAnalytics.com, and 40% more employers in the United States are offering a greater number of flexible workplace options than they did five years ago.
13 Telecommuting Myths You Shouldn’t Believe About Working from Home
Despite the prevalence of remote work, telecommuting myths persist. If you’re thinking about working from home, or examining remote work policies for your own business, consider these telecommuting myths and the realities behind them.
1. Telecommuters Aren’t as Productive as Onsite Professionals
This telecommuting myth is particularly nasty because it associates remote work with laziness. However, a 2014 Harvard study conducted by Nicholas Bloom and James Liang busted this telecommuting myth by revealing that some companies saw increases in productivity levels up to 13.5% once their employees began working remotely. This boom in productivity, according to the study, is largely attributed to telecommuters’ home-based work environments being less hectic than those of a traditional, onsite office.
While working remotely, you don’t have to combat the typical distractions, like office politics, interruptions from chatty colleagues, and an overall noisier environment, associated with an onsite office setting.
The Bloom and Liang study also found that remote workers took far fewer sick days and worked more hours than their onsite counterparts. When telecommuting employees have a clear understanding of expectations and lines of communication remain open, they’ll be just as, if not more productive, than professionals working onsite.
2. Telecommuters Have Complete Control Over Their Schedules
One of the most common telecommuting myths is that remote workers have complete flexibility and control over their schedules. In reality, telecommuters must adhere to deadlines and work shift parameters just like everyone else.
While telecommuters do typically have more freedom with how they use their time, working from home doesn’t necessarily mean telecommuters get to make their own schedules.
As a telecommuter, you’ll still have deadlines to meet, conference calls or Skype meetings to join, projects to collaborate on, and other responsibilities that won’t always be under your complete control.
3. Achieving Work-Life Balance Comes Easy to Telecommuters
While working at a traditional 9-to-5 job, you can usually shut your work brain off at the end of the day, go home, and not worry about work until the next morning. You can enjoy your weekends without having to answer phone calls and emails from co-workers or clients. In a remote setting, where your personal and professional lives exist under one roof, it’s not as easy to switch your brain from work mode.
Most remote workers find themselves opening their laptops after dinner to add the final touches to an important project, waking up in the middle of the night to send and important email, and struggling to create boundaries that make their work week feel like one really long day.
Our top tip for mitigating telecommuting work-life balance challenges is to set a beginning and endpoint to the work day, every day.
Creating a schedule that works for you will ensure you make the distinction between work and personal time, thereby reducing stress levels and making you more productive during work hours.
4. Telecommuters Are Always Available
Don’t believe the telecommuting myth that remote workers are always available for immediate contact. We always recommend that telecommuters set “office hours” for availability.
When working from home, it’s important to establish clear lines of communication with your co-workers and remote supervisors.
Loop your colleagues in on your home office hours so they’ll know the best time to reach you or, if you have already finished work for the day, when they can expect to hear from you again.
5. Remote Workers Don’t Check In
It’s easy to assume that if you aren’t in a physical office with your co-workers it’s difficult to keep in touch and get quick responses. However, advancements in remote communications have made it very easy for telecommuting teams to keep in touch and receive real-time responses.
Utilizing mobile platforms, VPN technologies, cloud-based collaboration programs, and networking sites like LinkedIn, there should never be a time when remote teams cannot collaborate.
Would you like to learn more about how the 100% remote Virtual Vocations team collaborates? We discuss our use of Slack in this article on Remote Collaboration: Methods for Effective Virtual Communication.
6. Telecommuting Is, by Default, Isolating
One of the greatest benefits to establishing a communication plan with remote teams has nothing to do with productivity and workflow.
Effective virtual communication facilitates team-building and professional bonds that create a network of support for distributed teams.
Even if your virtual company doesn’t host an annual headquarters meeting or company retreat, you can foster worthwhile relationships with your colleagues through simple avenues like social media, instant messaging, and regular check-ins just to ask “How are you doing?” Little steps toward establishing a support network for telecommuters go a long way toward combating isolation in remote work.
You’ll find additional information about telecommuting support in our free Virtual Vocations e-Course “Getting Started with Telecommuting.”
7. Teleworkers Have SO Much Free Time
This telecommuting myth relies on the misconception is that if you’re working from home you’ll have oodles of built-in time throughout the day to do things like run errands, clean house, and pick up the kids from school.
While greater scheduling flexibility is the number one reason U.S. professionals seek telecommuting jobs, incorporating too much personal time into your work day is a slippery slope to failure.
The more time you spend pushing off work to-dos, the more you’ll find yourself working late every evening and on weekends.
8. Telecommuters Are Less Professional
Although telecommuters may never have face-to-face meetings with any of their virtual colleagues, they shouldn’t be labeled as unprofessional trolls lurking in their dark, damp, underground home offices, only emerging for an important deadline. Most telecommuters have made the switch from working in an onsite office to working from home, so they have established experience with professional discourse.
Remote workers come from industries like information technology, project management, education, sales, healthcare, and customer service—all among the top 10 telecommuting industries, according to our 2017 Mid-Year Telecommuting Report.
9. Work-at-Home Professionals Make Less Money
Here’s a falsehood fed by other telecommuting myths, such as the myth that working from home doesn’t involve real work, and, like the rest of the telecommuting myths, it couldn’t be further from the truth.
In a 2016 survey of more than 1,800 telecommuters and telecommute jobseekers, Virtual Vocations found that among respondents who were actively working from home at the time of the survey, 39.5% were earning $71,000 per year or more.
What’s more, telecommuters save more money than their onsite counterparts. Our “Telecommute Jobseeker Survey” also showed that 83.5% of respondents experienced decreased costs (e.g. lunches, clothing, gas, etc.) associated with work since they began telecommuting.
10. Telecommuters Never Take a Break from Technology
It’s no secret that the very nature of working from home requires the use of computers, smartphones, and other electronic devices, but the notion that telecommuters are constantly glued to their tech is a total myth.
In fact, most telecommuters spend a lot of time and energy streamlining their work processes to achieve greater work-life balance, which, believe it or not, involves disconnecting from the digital world.
11. Older Professionals Won’t Succeed at Remote Work
Millennials have never known a world without computers, so it’s easy to assume that younger professionals are best-suited for telecommuting, which is rooted in the use of technology to conduct business.
So would it surprise you to know that, according to our 2016 Year-End Telecommuting Report, the average telecommuter is 45-50 years of age, college educated, and has more than five years of experience working from home?
Your qualifications, experience, work ethic, and self-motivation are what make you suited for remote work—not your age.
12. Freelancing Is the Only Option If You Want to Work from Home
While a lot of companies hire telecommuters on a freelance basis, most telecommute-friendly employers seeking work-at-home professionals want permanent staff for part-time or full-time roles.
Within the Virtual Vocations Database, we’ve made it easy for you to locate and apply to permanent telecommuting positions. Follow this link to view every available, permanent telecommuting job posted to the Virtual Vocations Database, then narrow your search results further based on more than 40 telecommuting job industries, your location, and whether you want to work full-time or part-time.
13. Telecommuters Never Have to Leave Home for Work
Wrong—not all telecommuting jobs are 100% virtual. Some telecommuting jobs require employees to visit a company headquarters location at least once a year, travel to meet clients, or attend onsite meetings and training sessions.
At Virtual Vocations, the standard for the telecommute job postings appearing in our database is that they allow hirees work from home at least 20% of the time.
If you’re considering applying to a telecommute job posting that has some onsite or travel requirements, don’t feel intimidated. Most employers reimburse their employees for travel expenses incurred on the company’s behalf and getting together with colleagues a couple of times a year will help reinforce professional bonds and expand your network.
Joining Virtual Vocations grants you access to our hand-picked telecommuting jobs database. Our family-owned company is committed to helping you find quality job leads. We strive to help make your work-at-home job search faster, easier and safer by bringing you scam-free jobs that offer some form of telecommuting or virtual work.
Learn how our service works, browse job leads by location and career category, or search hundreds of hand-screened telecommuting jobs to find legitimate work-at-home job leads that match your skills and background.