Debunking Working From Home Myths – and Ways Everyone Can Work Their Best
Four years ago, I left a full-time position at a marketing agency to go out on my own. The shift to independent consulting was terrifying, liberating and empowering all at the same time. The most marked change was leaving a lively office environment filled with people to work in the quiet of my home on my own.
For me, the flexibility of working from home (or wherever I chose to set up shop) was a deciding factor in making the switch. I said goodbye to battling rush-hour traffic five days a week and gave a big hello to working in yoga pants from my home office. Okay, an athleisurewear dress code is a major plus, but truthfully, as a full-time working mom, working from home afforded me a level of flexibility and work-life balance I couldn’t attain in my previous roles.
But with this new work setup came some concerns.
Will I be productive?
How will I connect with my peers?
What will professional development look like?
These questions don’t just apply to virtual offices. Many companies operate satellite offices, with only a handful of workers in each location collaborating with team members across the country.
If you’re new to working remotely, allow me to debunk some of the common myths you’ve likely heard. And if you still work in a traditional office, you can use these tips to help you and your in-office or cross-country team members work more efficiently and productively!
To round out this post, I slacked with the Approach team (virtual collaboration in action!) to gather a mix of perspectives and truths.
So, here you go:
Working Remotely Myth 1: You feel lonely.
I get why people think this. You’re not in a traditional office. No co-workers popping by to chit chat. No impromptu happy hours. And no summertime lunch-hour lakefront walks with co-workers, a favorite of mine when I worked at the Aon Center in Chicago. But let’s get real—it’s 2019 and our world is chock full of pro tools like Slack, Zoom and Google Hangouts that enable virtual teams to feel close and connected. But if you crave in-person human interaction during the workday, pick a workspace that makes this possible. More on this coming up.
Working Remotely Myth 2: You’re less collaborative.
Collaboration is all about working with others to create something, and this can be accomplished in a lot of ways, including virtually. Earlier I mentioned tools which make it easy to message, video call and ideate with others online. You can share computer screens with one click and facilitate virtual whiteboarding sessions, brainstorms or team meetups—without the hassle of setting up a conference room or snapping pics of notes written on a whiteboard.
Working Remotely Myth 3: You’re less productive.
This myth couldn’t be further from the truth. Approach visual strategist Amy Carruthers sums it up perfectly: “I love that in the virtual office model our agency meetings are intentional and productive. We connect with each other in-person (through Slack, Zoom or conference calls) only when it's absolutely necessary to get someone's personal input to push a project forward.”
Working remotely forces you to be purposeful and deliberate about how you use your time—and the time of your partners, teammates and clients—because it’s not as simple as swinging by someone’s office to get feedback or gut check an idea. Approach teammates use a variety of tools to aid in productivity. Agency founder and president Megan Shroy keeps a hand-written productivity journal; social media manager Maddie Lange loves Asana for detailed online project management; and many swear by managing detailed online calendars. Need more ideas? Check out this roundup of productivity tools for remote workers on the Jeff Bullas blog.
Working Remotely Myth 4: There’s less opportunity for professional growth.
It’s true that professional growth often looks different for independent contractors. You don’t have an employer mapping a career path or a manager checking in on your progress toward a promotion. But this doesn’t mean your growth is stunted. Broadening a skillset or taking on a new challenge is possible.
For starters, consider joining an industry membership organization that offers networking or mentorship opportunities. Or, seek out clients or projects that provide an opportunity to learn something new. I’m a member at a co-working space that hosts lunchtime meetups on Wednesdays. Members can network, swap ideas and learn from each other. It’s also a great network for referring business.
Working Remotely Myth 5: You need a home office.
Yes, a home office works well for some remote workers. Many Approach teammates told me they enjoy creating a home office that reflects their personality and aesthetic. It’s a more inspiring and creative space than a corporate office cubicle. (For inspiration, check out our blog post on Creating a Home Office You’ll Love to Work In.)
But others will find that a coffee shop, library or co-working space is the right fit. I like to split my time between a home office and a co-working space—both provide a quiet setting for taking client calls. But I’m also a fan of discovering new coffee shops where I can spend the day writing.
Bottom line: Work where you feel inspired and productive. Wherever that may be.
These are just a few truths about what working remotely really looks like. As a virtual agency comprised of independent contractors, Approach Marketing is always on the hunt for tools and tips to enable the most collaborative and supportive remote working experience possible. If you’ve got one, or would like to learn more about our virtual model, reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org.