Busting Remote Work Myths

Avatar by Amy Steinberg Published Mar 17, 2020 Last updated Mar 17, 2020

While millions of people now work remotely at least part of the time, there are still a few contingents of people who have set thoughts about remote work. The general skepticism about it creates a good deal of misinformation, but with the right information, you can overcome the myths and create the remote working environment that fits best for you and your needs.

“You Can Stay Home with the Kids!”

While many people want the freedom to have children without paying for expensive infant-and-toddler childcare, this is one of the bigger myths out there. People attempting to care for children while simultaneously working full-time remotely are unlikely to do a good job in either arena. If you are considering the shift to remote work and have small children who aren’t old enough to be in school for many hours a day, please don’t expect to care for your children while you work. As a seasoned professional, you probably know all of this, but please continue to share this information with those who claim they could make this work.

“You Must Avoid All The Distractions…”

Anyone who ever felt that there was too much water cooler gossip, endless meetings, or even just a pleasant amount of chitchat at work may feel envious of your at-home working situation. To some extent, it’s true: fewer people will make the effort to call you up on the phone at home for a non-work-related conversation. However, there are plenty of ways to distract a remote worker with workplace concerns: emails often take longer to respond to, whether important or not, than a quick chat on the walk to the break room. Instant messaging software for companies increases opportunities to lapse into idle e-chat. It’s silly to assume that workplace distractions vanish just because you are out of the office, though it is always nice to avoid a distraction or two. 

“I Bet Your Home is Way Too Distracting For Work!”

This is one of those myths that somehow goes both ways. The idea that everyone who works from home hears a silent call to do laundry, make dinner, play video games, or take naps is rooted in a core of truth, which is that it is literally easier to do those things when working from home. However, most successful remote workers have figured out how to compartmentalize the items that need to be done outside of business hours and the tasks that are appropriate during the workday. Other companies opt to create a standard of performance, rather than a standard of hours at work, and simply require that deadlines be met, regardless of the hours you spend. Is it possible to spend so much time distracted by the items in your home that you don’t meet deadlines? It’s possible. However, the idea that many remote workers are more distracted before or after a shift to remote work is simply inconclusive. It is an individualized issue, just as it would be in an office.

“Don’t You Feel Like You Never Leave Work?”

While millions of people now work remotely at least part of the time, there are still a few contingents of people who have set thoughts about remote work. The general skepticism about it creates a good deal of misinformation, but with the right information, you can overcome the myths and create the remote working environment that fits best for you and your needs.

“You Can Stay Home with the Kids!”

While many people want the freedom to have children without paying for expensive infant-and-toddler childcare, this is one of the bigger myths out there. People attempting to care for children while simultaneously working full-time remotely are unlikely to do a good job in either arena. If you are considering the shift to remote work and have small children who aren’t old enough to be in school for many hours a day, please don’t expect to care for your children while you work. As a seasoned professional, you probably know all of this, but please continue to share this information with those who claim they could make this work.

“You Must Avoid All The Distractions…”

Anyone who ever felt that there was too much water cooler gossip, endless meetings, or even just a pleasant amount of chitchat at work may feel envious of your at-home working situation. To some extent, it’s true: fewer people will make the effort to call you up on the phone at home for a non-work-related conversation. However, there are plenty of ways to distract a remote worker with workplace concerns: emails often take longer to respond to, whether important or not, than a quick chat on the walk to the break room. Instant messaging software for companies increases opportunities to lapse into idle e-chat. It’s silly to assume that workplace distractions vanish just because you are out of the office, though it is always nice to avoid a distraction or two. 

“I Bet Your Home is Way Too Distracting For Work!”

This is one of those myths that somehow goes both ways. The idea that everyone who works from home hears a silent call to do laundry, make dinner, play video games, or take naps is rooted in a core of truth, which is that it is literally easier to do those things when working from home. However, most successful remote workers have figured out how to compartmentalize the items that need to be done outside of business hours and the tasks that are appropriate during the workday. Other companies opt to create a standard of performance, rather than a standard of hours at work, and simply require that deadlines be met, regardless of the hours you spend. Is it possible to spend so much time distracted by the items in your home that you don’t meet deadlines? It’s possible. However, the idea that many remote workers are more distracted before or after a shift to remote work is simply inconclusive. It is an individualized issue, just as it would be in an office.

“Don’t You Feel Like You Never Leave Work?”

Work-life balance is actually just as good or better for remote workers! Yes, there are plenty of people who overwork remotely, but that is due to poor boundaries, the same way that in-office workers burn out at work. A high-performing remote worker will take steps to isolate his or her work environment so that he or she gets the distance from work necessary to remain excited about the work at hand. Many remote workers have an office that they only use for work, with the rest of the home being a separate space for their leisure time.

“I Would Get So Lonely Working From Home!”

While some people might indeed grow lonely working from home, most work that is engrossing and exciting will make the workday fly by. The value of working remotely is also that you don’t only have a solitary environment available to you. There are many options for co-working spaces, libraries, and coffee shops where you can spend some part of your remote work hours, provided you can still focus on your work. Loneliness is a symptom of overly limited thinking, not of remote work itself. If nothing else, the time saved from past commutes can be devoted to social activities outside of work, which is an excellent benefit.

“I Bet You Are Way Less Productive – I Would Be!”

The studies that have been done are fairly clear: working remotely often increases productivity and definitely doesn’t decrease it. An individual worker might not increase his or her productivity at home, but the great thing about remote work is that they can change their environment without disturbing a whole office. By optimizing their remote work environment, a person can meet and exceed their past productivity achievements.