Monday, March 16, 2020

7 Things That Might Surprise You About Remote Work

1. It's not cheaper. This, as with all the others will vary. Like obviously remote work does not require a car, bus, or metro ride. So you will save that money and that time. You also will not have access to company pens, company toilet paper, or company coffee and tea. So, now the supplies are all yours. This could still put you in the win column, but you will also discover as with most budget shifts, it helps for a little and then your budget shifts to adjust to that, and it is gone.
2. It's not quieter. If you live alone in a remote cabin maybe. Although I bet the coyotes beg to differ. They do construction during the day. The mow lawns during the day. They cut off utilities during the day. You will discover a ton of things that are planned with the assumption that less people are home.
3. It can be very hard on your mental health. One thing the rise of the internet has shown us is that there are tons of wonderful folks all around the world, and it is easier than ever to connect with them. Connecting via phone, email, video chat, and social media is great. It is not the same as seeing people in person. The conversations that develop when you can just sit and allow for silence, or not, are different. Again, contagions are
bad, and there are reasons for social distance right now.  But figure out ways to get people time, whether it's a long scheduled video chat where you and someone else agree to do something silly together and just chat, make time for people.  And if your household contains those that are moving about more freely - say you live with a healthcare worker - then figure out how to balance your possibly divergent needs.  They may need a chance for silence when they arrive home whereas you have stored up all these things to just tell someone all day long.  
4. It's not less tiring. I hated commuting.  I really did. I voluntary switched to a longer metro commute becuase getting reading time in made me a happier person when the traffic and other delays were someone else's problem.  But not commuting did not release a huge store of energy.  The exhausting part of jobs is the focus and decision making they require.  You will still be tired at the end of the day.  You just won't have the activity tracker steps to show for it.  
5. You will not discover how many meetings could have been emails. I mean maybe your company is very efficient.  But instead you will discover how many meetings can be long ponderous conference calls, or video chats, or web meetings.  We have not eliminated meetings in remote work.  Sometimes they are more efficient.  Sometimes they are necessary.  Sometimes they turn into very long chat messages or sixty two emails that make you wonder if a quick meeting could have solved that.  
6. You will not have more time. A day is a day.  You lose the commute but you are also now chief supplies officer.  If you are social distancing or live somewhere not near quick food, you will likely be eating at home more.  Possibly if your commute was four hours, you will get some time back.  But time expands, and habits and schedules are hard. 
7. You will not be more productive. Again, a day is a day.  Part of this is the human brain's tendency to overestimate our own capacity.  Part of this is working with people remotely that you used to work with in person requires adjustments.  Part of this is just that you also won't be more awake, so this idea that like you got a whole hour back every day that you will totally use for something that is not self care is not only generally incorrect it is not a great idea.  You will need self care.  You aren't a failure for not producing more.  You are human.