December 29, 2019
Remote work comes with many benefits to the traditional office. All these benefits, however, come with some serious trade offs to consider.
The benefits for an individual include:
The benefits for companies include:
The trade offs to look out for include:
Having everyone brainstorming together in the same room can lead to truly great idea. But how many great ideas do you need before your plate is full? If you want to reap the benefits of the great idea, you need to put in the work to make them a reality. This work doesn't require long brainstorming sessions. It only requires consistency and effort.
Remote work scares managers because it takes away their sense of control. They can no longer see what people are doing, they can't come in and get an instant answer, and they can't call an impromptu meeting just to discuss a recent issue. This loss of control takes away many of the activities that fill up 40 hours of management work. When everyone works remote, a full time manager may not exist.
Having at least a 4 hour overlap helps to deal with tasks that require a call or screen share.
Keeping remote workers productive require exposing all plans, resources, and schedules. That way people never have to wonder what to work on, or wait an hour for someone to get online.
Having a designated water cooler chatroom can create the spontaneous team bonding that happens from hallway conversations. Except it has the added benefit of allows people to communicate on their own time.
Having people work remote brings their contributions to the forefront. Meaningless metrics like how early someone comes in fall away. When evaluation only take into account the actual work, it become hard to hide shortcomings.
Having the skills and resources for remote work can even benefit those that prefer to work in the office. Instead of office workers missing a whole day of work because of snow day or plumber appointment, they can take the day to work remote while taking care of an emergency.
Meeting, estimate, and constant updates still have a major impact on remote workers. To keep people at their most productive, these need to only happen when absolutely necessary.
You can't rely on your co-workers for face to face human interactions. Instead you have to make the effort to get enough interaction with family, friends, or community groups around your town.
Despite having the ability to work any time, you should still have a set time when work starts and ends. Otherwise, burn out will quickly catch up to you.
Having the support for remote work allows the company to keep people even when they need to move. In fact, it could bolster loyalty by allowing them to live in a cheaper area while making a big city salary.
A remote worker isn't special because they are remote. When they do great work, it's simply great work. Therefore, no matter where they live, they should receive the same appreciation and compensation for the same work.
Remote workers mostly communicate through email or chat. If you can't effectively communicate your ideas through writing, you lose out on much of the benefit of remote work.
Former contractors make great remote workers. Both positions require creating your own tasks, driving goals to completion, and solving problems without someone pulling you along.
In order to disconnect and recharge from your work day, make a physical distinction between work and home time. Some ways to do this include only working in a designated room, having a dedicate work computer, and getting dressed for work -- even if you could go all day in sweatpants.
If you start loosing motivation or get too distracted at home, you can work the rest of the day from a coffee shops, a libraries, or even a co-working spaces.
It's easy for others to see your daily accomplishments when you write code and they have to review it or work with it. But if you spend the day working on admin tasks or brainstorming, make sure you share these accomplishments too.
Copyright © Artem Chernyak 2020