Myths and Fallacies of Remote Work
Many Assumptions About Remote Careers Are Not True
A lot of Americans have one of two different responses when they hear the words ‘remote work from home jobs’: fear or eye rolling. It either seems scary, overwhelming with no structure, or an excuse to do nothing in your pajamas. But such myths couldn’t be farther from the truth. It can certainly be an adjustment to move from a regular office position to working from home, but it is absolutely the path of the future. Everything in our world is designed to optimize time and maximize flexibility, and flow of labor should be no different.
Some Fallacies of Remote Work
Remote Careers Lack Accountability
The first myth I would like to bust is the notion that remote work from home jobs lack accountability. Remote employment relies on the same transparency that on-location employment requires: the employer should make their expectations/desired work shift known, and the employee should have documentation that they came in and completed their work. Many 9-5’s may be project-based or involve clocking in on a system (computer or key card), and remote work from home jobs are exactly the same. Technology has progressed in such a way that software can tally up the time or even take pictures of a screen during a work shift. This can be reviewed by a supervisor and make payroll a much more efficient and accurate process. Projects can even be highlighted and time for each tracked separately. Employers spend many hours actively recruiting and hiring candidates they believe will fit the remote team. If they didn’t trust them to be ethical, then they wouldn’t have been hired. As career educator Maria Wachal points out:
“How does an employer know whether their remote workers spend enough hours working? Is there a pressure to make an impression of being available 24/7? Nothing more wrong. Healthy remote companies rely on trust. If they didn’t, they would not offer remote positions in a first place. People who work from home work similar hours to everyone else and they don’t need to put more effort on actually proving that they’re getting things done”.
Demographics of Remote Workers
The second myth regarding remote work from home jobs concerns age. If you were to ask a stranger to describe a telecommuter, they would likely impress upon you the image of the young glasses-wearing hipster at the coffee shop who does tech freelancing. But the data does not support this misconception, as “compared to just 41% of the traditional workforce, stats show half of all remote workers are over the age of 45”.
This is an important fact to take note of, because some of the myths, including the age one, have an underlying discriminatory assumption. These negative connotations extend to a variety of minority labels. Sex/Gender roles intersect and provide usually the most obvious stereotypes, but “it’s important to clarify that there is no hard data indicating that parents who work remotely are less effective than individuals without children, nor do women as a demographic group do inferior work to men”, as Dave Nevogt, a renowned career coach, points out. Females being weaker or more distracted by childrearing duties is a wash when you consider that scheduling is flexible for all individuals, and that a separate office can minimize distractions for anyone, putting an employee in the right frame of mind to work.
Each individual has a unique neurology that supports their strengths in the midst of career obstacles. Many individuals with disabilities also find productive employment in the remote workforce and sadly deal with the notion that remote work is somehow “special needs work” or “not a real career” because it is an adapted resource. This is an offensive myth that must be challenged, and individuals of all abilities can find purpose in this career sector without having to alter who they are. Remote work from home jobs are naturally inclusive due to their format.
Security of Remote Work
A third major myth revolves around security. Brick and mortar businesses have doors that lock, access to local law enforcement, and perhaps even on-site guards. This all breeds a sense of confidence since the barriers are visible. Computers can be hacked or stolen, so this fear is understandable. However, it is a fallacy, as Suzanne Zuppello a security analyst argues that “someone who intends to steal information will do so regardless of their work location. This, like many issues with remote work, are people problems, not location problems”. It has been often referenced that most job-related theft comes from inside the organization: by its employees. So, it can happen any place, and employers would be better protected by properly vetting candidates who can work honestly. Both remote and on-location businesses can take precautions by utilizing IT professionals to set up firewalls and even password-protected files.
Isolation of Remote Careers
Loneliness and lack of human connection are perceived detractions as well. Our culture places a huge importance on physical proximity and intimacy, and working from home alone goes against this. Sure, there might not be anyone to give a hug or a handshake to, but connectedness can still exist in a virtual word. Communication is just highly verbal, and any non-verbal cues are sent through images. So, it should not be surprising to hear that 82 percent of people believe flexible options provided by remote work make them feel more loyal and connected to their companies. In a remote setting, there tends to be more effort to reach out, because they know there is the stereotype to push back against and to work harder to convey messages. Presence can be taken for granted at an on-location workplace. The flexibility of remote work from home jobs requires that employers reach out as effectively as you to make contact.
The Benefits of Remote Work
Remote work is ubiquitous: many major corporations (eg. 1-800-Flowers, Nike, etc.) offer at home positions and remote work can be done anywhere now. Thus, it is possible to benefit from this gainful employment in a variety of means. One of the bonuses is also ironically a myth: access to telecommunication. As Maria Wachal argues: “There are telecommunication standards that, when implemented, help remote teams communicate effectively. It is very easy to make your people feeling left out without any connection with the rest of your company”. The perception of lack of human connection is ironic since the abundance of technology actually leads to being continually available. Skype, email, teleconferencing, and file sharing ensure that anyone can be reached within a moment’s notice, with continuity across projects. So, if something needs to finished ASAP, you can trust that someone will tag in.
An added benefit is saved cost for both the employer and the employee. Many employees have to travel into work, some commute for long distances. But for the remote workforce? No commuting, which means “saved time, money and reduced carbon footprint in the environment” (Maria Wachal). There is no gas to pay for or spending time on the road when you can just wake up and hop on to your computer. That means more money in your checks to take home! Employers also save an estimate $20,000 per employee in operating expenses when those individuals are remote. There isn’t a new desk, office space, computer or supplies to procure. There is no training or orientation that must take place at a specific location, which can be a drain on time. It can be as flexible as a webinar that can be logged in at any time by the remote team.
Increase productivity is an additional benefit. On-location workplaces have a lot of starts and stops, bathroom breaks, and social gossiping. But “multiple sources, including Forbes Inc. and Entrepreneur point to the high levels of productivity among remote workers. If you think about it, it makes a lot of sense. Without the distractions of office shenanigans, one can easily make it through projects that would otherwise be drawn out by working in an office environment” (Medium.com). A remote worker can just push through a project, and those saved minutes from not having to get up to hand over a file or grab a snack can add up to hours over the course of a year.
With all of these positive aspects, what is holding YOU back from applying for remote work from home jobs?