Busting the myths of working remotely

Pros and cons of working from home

While working from home in pajamas is some people’s dream job, it might not be the right fit for everyone. In a recent webinar, Brad Rogers, Director of Recruiting at LibGig, and John DiGilio, VP of Research Services at LAC Group, discussed the pros and cons of working remotely, along with what employers look for when hiring remote employees. They also took a look at many of the myths and misconceptions that still swirl around working from home. Finally, they had some advice for remote employees and their employers.

According to recently-released data from the US Census, 5.2% of workers in the US worked at home in 2017—or 8 million people. That share is up from 5% in 2016, and 3.3% in 2000. Among the people who do work remotely, 90% say they plan to continue for the rest of their careers.

The good, the bad and the ugly pajamas

Both Rogers and DiGilio have firsthand experience with hiring and managing remote employees. They cite many of the “pros” to working remotely, including:

  • Flexibility – The flexible schedule afforded by working from home is one of the most-cited benefits and is especially attractive to millennials who expect this more than their older peers. Flexibility is in keeping with the more recent philosophy of “work is not somewhere you go, but something you do.” It also ties directly to the desire to balance work with family and personal time.
  • No commuting – This can be a huge benefit, depending on geography. While the average commute for Americans is about 25 minutes, depending on the metro area—such as Washington, DC, New York or Los Angeles—commutes can be numbingly long, not to mention expensive.
  • Personalized office – While not often mentioned, working from home allows people to work in an entirely personalized environment—with the music, photos or even smelly lunches that might otherwise be discouraged in an office setting.
  • More job opportunities – The growth of remote work has opened up more jobs to more people by not having them dependent on location. People from around the world can apply, and be considered for positions that may not have previously been available to them.

Every “pro” needs a “con,” and there are certainly a few associated with working from home. Rogers and Digilio mentioned:

  • Communication hurdles – Physical separation from coworkers automatically means less face time and interaction with supervisors. If the company culture values personal meetings over phone calls, emails and chat, a remote worker could have trouble staying in the loop.
  • Lack of camaraderie – Without a water cooler or break room, it can be harder to get to know people and build culture. Many people build lasting friendships with coworkers, and those relationships may not be as strong for remote employees.
  • Lack of structure – It takes a certain type of person to work remotely, and not everyone is able to manage their own duties and responsibilities without supervision. Work-from-home jobs require focus and discipline in order to stay productive.
  • Potential to be overlooked or excluded – Again, depending on the organization, it’s possible that remote workers may get passed over for promotions, especially for jobs where they’re expected to manage others. They may also find it difficult to be recognized for their contributions to the company.

Rogers and DiGilio also talked about popular misconceptions—held by employees and employers alike—about working from home. These myths largely revolved around time management, productivity, scheduling and supervision. They also presented what they look for in a potential remote worker, and some of the traits that will make a remote employee successful.

They built on this discussion by examining a “day in the life” of a remote worker and what they’ve learned as managers of remote teams. Register for the replay to hear more of their insights and advice for building strong remote teams that function smoothly and effectively, despite not working face to face.