In the early days of remote work, it was easy for some people to have misconceptions about working from home.
Whether from individuals who think they won’t have to work as hard or that its remote work is super glamorous, to the company leaders who think productivity will be destroyed with remote teams.
And as the popularity of telecommuting and remote jobs exploded, more people (and company leaders) have fallen into the stereotypes of what it means to be a remote employee.
It’s important we clear these misconceptions up because remote work is here to stay and is only growing. For instance, since 2009, the number of people who work from home has risen by 159%!
So let’s get into the common misconceptions about remote work and debunk the myths.
What Are Common Misconceptions About Remote Work?
Below are common misconceptions about remote work that employees, company leaders, or even outside observers might think. I know over the years, I’ve definitely heard others bring some of these points up.
But as long as there are some good strategies in place, the company or remote worker won’t fall into any of these stereotypes.
1. Remote Work Reduces Career Growth
A very common remote work misconception is that working remotely can stifle your professional career or future promotions.
While the “professional ladder” may be slightly different with a virtual company, it doesn’t mean there aren’t exciting opportunities for you within the organization.
Although it might be more challenging to build rapport with management since you aren’t face-to-face, you can still build credibility. Keep communication open, share your work and ideas, and express your career interests. Any good remote company will work towards ensuring the remote culture provides plenty of career advancements.
2. Remote Work Means Productivity Decreases
Early on in my remote workdays, I saw plenty of misinformation that remote work can decrease productivity. Personally, I found I am way more productive and efficient from home and in my own office space.
But many other remote workers feel the same too. Since remote work began really taking off, there have been numerous studies and surveys to discover the effects on productivity.
And the majority of studies have found employees are happier, more productive, and feel more satisfied with their work. Here’s one small study you can check out, but you’ll find many others if you do a quick Google search.
A typical misconception is that remote workers will be too distracted by their favorite show on Netflix or always work in their pajamas. Certainly, there may be some people who think they can get away with it, but their work performance will quickly tell the truth.
3. Remote Workers Won’t Stay In-Touch
Since remote workers aren’t in the office, the assumption is that they might not be working or can clock in and then “disappear.” Certainly, someone may test this out that might be new to the virtual working world, but they will quickly find that it’s not easy to get away with this.
There are tons of tools that keep communication lines open and managers of remote companies typically set up recurring meetings to talk about work. Plus, if your work starts to get sloppy or deadlines are missed, it’s going to be easy to spot.
TINYpulse conducted a survey around this topic too, 52% reported having contact with their manager at least once daily, with an additional 34% reporting once-a-week interactions with managers. Basically, more remote companies and workers are staying connected very consistently.
4. Remote Workers Earn Less Money
One misconception about remote work is that you’ll earn less salary because you get to be home.
While there have been some debates and companies who indeed try to do that, overall remote work does not mean sacrificing earned income.
It’s frustrating when I see companies debating this. If you are saving money from not having an office, with reduced energy costs, and supplies – then there is no excuse to pay employees less than they would receive via in-office.
In a Payscale Report, employees who are fully remote earn more compensation than employees who do not work remotely at all. And when the data was not controlled for job titles and other compensable factors, employees who work remotely make 23.7% more than non-remote employees.
5. Only A Few Job Types Can Be Done Remotely
Maybe one day in the distant future, somehow all jobs will be done remotely. But as of today, there is no way every job type can be done virtually.
Yet a common misconception is that there are limited fields where you can work remotely. However, the world has greatly evolved and there is tons of opportunity in various job fields!
There are open remote jobs in marketing, sales, engineering, web development, healthcare, customer service, education, and more. Some fields of course offer more opportunities in remote work than others, but there are so many options today.
You can check out some of the top jobs with the most remote work opportunities here.
6. Remote Work Creates Security Issues
While ensuring company data is protected and online safety is real, a common misconception is that remote work creates more security issues. It doesn’t create more, it just presents similar ones in different ways from being in-office.
There are so many awesome security and cloud-based applications that protect and monitor without much effort. Best practices like two-factor authentication, anti-virus software, and locking your computer after a certain idle time, for example, helps reduce security risks.
Also, if you plan on working outside your home office, you might want to get a VPN like ExpressVPN or NordVPN, which stops your online activity from being tracked or even hacked.
Identity theft and data hacking happen no matter where you are working. It’s not remote work that’s the problem, so the best you can do is protect your computer and internet.
7. Communication & Collaboration Suffers
Probably the most overused stereotype of remote work is that both communication and collaboration suffer. And while it can be different on the “how” to achieve good communication and collaboration, working remotely does not mean these two areas will struggle.
In the early days, I’d say there was a bit more of the “unknown” of strategy or how to ensure employees felt connected virtually. This is where company leaders and managers play a pivotal role by providing the right tools, methods, and setting expectations for those who work remotely.
Some things that work great for companies:
- Weekly virtual team meet-ups
- 1:1s with specific co-workers or leaders
- Work and non-work related Slack or Microsoft Teams channels
- Tools for collaboration (Trello, Invision, Miro, Lucid, Mural, etc.)
8. Remote Workers All Want to Be Digital Nomads
One popular term you may come across is a digital nomad. This is someone who works virtually but is not working in the same location. This might be someone traveling to different states, working from a camper, or hopping to different countries.
But another remote work misconception is that every remote employee is a digital nomad.
Many remote workers aren’t interested in virtual work because they like to travel. Instead, it’s more about removing office commutes, more flexibility, and better work/life balance.
However digital nomads are on the rise and after the COVID-19 pandemic, it sparked even more interest. Today, there are almost 11 million people working as digital nomads in just the United States (and growing)!
9. Remote Workers Are Always Working
Sometimes there is an expectation because someone works from home, that they always have to be “on call.”
Basically, that person will be working 24/7 because they can easily go on their computer or phone. WRONG. And if a company expects that, then that’s not someplace anyone should be working at.
A work/life balance is important and sometimes as a remote worker, it is easier to get caught up in replying to emails late, responding to a Slack message, or doing extra work. But generally, remote workers will keep similar schedules to what they would in-office and should be respected by managers and other co-workers.
10. Only Startups Hire Remote Workers
Certainly, startups and tech companies have been more pioneers in hiring remotely, but it’s not just these venture-backed companies.
Many Fortune 500 companies and other corporations may offer remote work, hybrid work, or even be okay with you being a digital nomad. Usually, the bigger companies offer a mix and aren’t necessarily operating fully remote, but more companies are exploring it today.
So whether you are looking for that startup or a bigger corporate organization, you’ll find remote options from all kinds of businesses.
11. Remote Workers Are Lonely
I’m not going to lie, sometimes working remotely can be lonely and a bit isolating. It’s why I put together this post about overcoming loneliness when working from home.
But overall, I still consider this a remote work misconception. I can’t speak for everyone because we all think and feel differently, but I rarely ever feel lonely working remotely.
And many others would also agree, but you do need to make time to get social with others. If you don’t, it for sure is easy to feel isolated or a bit stir crazy.
Many tools and communication apps make it easier to stay connected with co-workers too, so make sure to get that facetime with teammates.
You can also join social clubs outside of work, volunteer, work from coffee shops, or a co-working space occasionally to be around people. This can help remove any loneliness that might creep up occasionally.
12. Remote Companies Lack Company Culture
Work culture is so important to building a business that employees love to be a part of and are willing to support. And culture is already tough for organizations, which makes it seem that remote companies will have terrible culture.
But I’ll sound the alarm here, this is also a misconception. Fully remote tech companies like Zapier and Buffer have built amazing cultures without ever having a central office. Another reason why both these companies made our Top 100 Remote Companies list.
Remote companies generally focus on autonomy, building trust, and less micromanagement. But they also put the effort into attracting top talent and creating a culture of caring. It’s not easy work, yet there are plenty of companies going remote that have fantastic cultures.
Have you heard other remote work misconceptions or stereotypes? There might be more out there than the list above. Just remember, all of these have been debunked and most have the data to back it up.
Happy remote working!