As the technology continues to advance, the concept of a traditional workplace evolves with it. Where there used to be rigid hours and centralized workspaces, are now flexible schedules and remote work options. Companies are now sold on the idea of virtual employees. Dully in part because they can hire from anywhere in the world — offer more competitive salaries and diverse candidate pools — thus save on their office overhead.
Conversely, independent professionals or “remote workers” aka “digital nomads” also favor this set up because their employment is not tied to one location, they can reduce their commute expenses, work from literally anywhere and live a more flexible lifestyle.
In theory, this seems ideal, but there are pitfalls to working from home. There are a lot of incremental issues that build up and have an impact on your daily productivity.
We have uncovered a few challenges that impose an inherent risk to productivity:
Surrounded by Distractions
There was a valid reason why workplaces were centralized before. Apart from making everyone accessible to the rest of the office, it also removes an employee from personal distractions that can affect productivity. There are so many things that distract you at home — from your child having a tantrum to your neighbor borrowing the lawn mower or your favorite friend calling to talk. These distractions hinder your momentum towards continuous and high-quality work.
Feeling of Isolation
This was once only experienced by professional writers who spend months locked up at home trying to finish a novel. Now, a lot of people seem to operate on that lifestyle. They spend all day at home, not interacting with anyone apart from the Skype calls here and there with their bosses and teammates.
This has an effect how you socialize with people. It also affects your creativity. If you’re always alone, you miss out on opportunities to learn from people outside your team. You can’t make connections with people on your way to work or while your grabbing lunch. These are seemingly menial things that eventually affect a remote worker.
Lack of boundaries
Perhaps one of the most important things that an office can give an employee is a physical demarcation between work life and personal life. When you walking in your office, you mean business. You can screen your calls from home, deal with your Thanksgiving plans later and work productively throughout the day.
Having your home as the base for every part of your life mixes those indentures and makes it difficult to remember what role you’re playing. It seems like work doesn’t end and that doesn’t help with productivity.
No Shared Culture
A lot of companies invest in team building activities because they believe that people who work together should trust, care and respect each other. It’s hard to do that when they’ve never met. We all live connected lives even those that live on the opposite sides of the planet — where beliefs and traditions are different.
When there is no shared culture, employees are stripped of a shared sense of identity which contributes to people going the extra mile for their teammates or even the company. That may also be a huge reason why some remote workers move from one client to the next. There is not a feeling of attachment to people you’re working with, bosses you report to or the companies you work for.
Everyone agrees that there is room and need for remote workers in this day and age. But the for decision makers, owners, executives, and managers is how do we continue to foster team play, culture, and productivity for employees? And for remote workers, they questions are just as equal. How do those of us as remote workers contribute to being a better employee that fosters team play, culture, and productivity? It’s a question for both sides to pose an honest answer to and challenge themselves.