Building a Remote Workforce

The Truth Behind the Top Myths About Remote Working

by Hazel Butler
The Truth Behind the Top Myths About Remote Working

Remote working myths abound, and there are a lot of rumors surrounding the topic. Here are some truths about remote work and why it's a positive choice.

The last 12 months have seen more people than ever before working from home. Many initial detractors have been surprised to discover that it has plenty of upsides. It's high time we debunked some of the remote work myths that have been swirling around for years.

Hiring remote workers can be very beneficial for businesses in a lot of ways, while workers themselves often find the ability to work remotely—either part-time or full-time—very rewarding and a lot more flexible.

It’s time to clear up the confusion and silence the naysayers for good. Here’s the truth behind the top myths about remote working.

MYTH: Quality and Productivity Suffer When Working Remotely

Quality is often perceived as requiring a personal touch, or at least, an in-person presence. Productivity is likewise seen to be something that’s only achievable in a team environment when there are others around to motivate and monitor you. There’s a perception that if a worker is to be productive and create quality work, they need to be physically present at their place of work to do it. "Away from the office, there are too many distractions."

Yet, a study conducted by Harvard Business Review clearly shows the opposite is actually true, with productivity increasing by 13.5% when workers were allowed to operate remotely.

The absence of coworkers and common rooms actually reduces the number of distractions people have to contend with, making it easier for them to maintain their focus. Without the interruptions of conversations, people wandering in and out, or requests from colleagues to look at or help with things, there’s no need to break focus and then spend time refocusing.

The result is a boost in productivity and quality.

MYTH: Only Traveling Nomads Work Remotely

The surge of the "work from wherever" mentality gave rise to the notion that remote working was something for traveling nomads whose bohemian lifestyle demanded they be able to perform their jobs from anywhere in the world. While there's a certain romantic appeal to this vision of remote work, and it's certainly possible, it's reductive and doesn't apply to most remote workers.

The vast majority of remote workers do their work from a home office, or occasionally close to home from a friend's house, coffee shop or park.

The fact that remote work allows you to work from pretty much anywhere with wifi doesn't mean you can't work remotely from a single location. 

MYTH: Remote Work Is Antisocial

While the social side of remote working is more deliberate than being in an office, it’s not absent. Many former office workers (especially introverts) are delighted to have the opportunity to do their best work free from the burden of superfluous social interactions.

While working from home can—at times—be lonely, there’s still a great deal of social interaction going on throughout your day. In fact, many remote workers choose to view their time saved commuting as a way of off-setting social time so it can be spent with their favorite people instead of their co-workers. (Who wouldn't prefer to socialize with their best friend over Karen from Finance?)

Many remote jobs also involve collaborative elements that require frequent conversations with coworkers. This may be via email or instant messaging, but these days, video chatting is just as common.

In addition, just because you’re remote working doesn’t mean you won’t need to participate in meetings and discussions (though there should be a reduction if your company understands the value of asynchronous communication). There’s also no reason to exclude remote workers from regular social events, and many companies host virtual social events specifically for those who can’t attend in person.

MYTH: Remote Work Isn’t Long-Term

Some people approach the concept of remote work with a temporary air. It's viewed as something that people do as a stopgap. Perhaps a short-term health issue makes it impossible to commute, the office has been forced to close for a time, or it better suits someone to spend some days of the week working from home.

The pandemic has certainly led to many people working from home on a "temporary" basis, in that when restrictions lift, we're expecting to go back to normal. But is that truly a realistic expectation? Or has remote working become the new normal (or at least the next normal)? Should we expect to work remotely at least some of the time in the future?

The other cause of this particular myth is the fact that many remote positions are for contract work, which is, by its nature, less permanent than other roles. While it's true that many contractors take advantage of remote working to broaden their prospects, it doesn't mean all remote work is temporary. In fact, the opposite is true at Crossover, which lists only full-time permanent position.

MYTH: Remote Working is Impossible for Most Jobs

There are some jobs that would indeed be impossible to do from a remote location. Building a house, for example. And yet, more and more, we are seeing that remotely performing roles is entirely possible for most people. Even open heart surgeons are realizing the advancements that remote surgery would enable.

It may be that there are parts of a job that can be done remotely, allowing split time between on-site and remote work. Continued advances in technology are also broadening the possibilities of what workers can do remotely on a daily basis.

Between cloud computing and storage, video technology, and remote access software, the days of it only being possible to do certain things from home are long gone. 

What's the Reality of Remote Working?

While there are many myths about working remotely, the reality is that years from now these myths will seem incredibly short-sighted. Remember how many jobs didn't even require the internet 20 years ago? We have seen time and time again that true innovators aren't constrained by what's possible today. They're already looking ahead to the next normal.

Technological advances have given us the means to create and maintain an unprecedented level of connectivity across great distances, and businesses are waking up to the advantages this brings. Scouting for the best talent in your industry or hunting down your dream job is infinitely easier when you're not limited by geography and the practicalities of commuting to work. It's not a question of IF remote work is the future. It's a question of WHEN.