Remote Work Challenges

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I have worked remote for nearly four years now. It has been awesome in so many ways for me and my family; I do not plan to go back to an office. Working remote has a ton of perks but it does come with some downside.

Everything I love about it

Zero commuting is one of the best reasons for working from home. I never have to spend any portion of my day sitting in rush hour traffic. The amount of time I have saved not sitting in the car is crazy. If my commute was 30 minutes to and from work. That is one hour every day. Five hours every week. 20 hours every month. 240 hours every year. The money I have saved on gas and tolls is another reason zero commuting is one of my favorites.

Another benefit of working from home is having freedom. As long as I complete my work and attend all my scheduled meetings, I can work when I want to. My job's one rule is I need to be available during specific hours in case someone needs help, or we need to put out a fire. I do not have to deal with judgmental eyes when I step out to clear my head whenever I get stuck on a problem. If I need a break from the computer, I can go do some chores around the house or go talk to the family. It is just nice not being stuck in your work environment whenever you need a break.

You typically have less office distractions. There is nothing more painful being deep into a problem and someone walks up to your desk and breaks your concentration. It's an instant productivity killer. Though it does not mean there are not any distractions at home or any other environment.

You are not tied to your location. I live in an area where tech jobs are not easy to come by unless I want to work in government contracting. I currently work for a company whose headquarters is in Chicago while I work on the east coast. My team is spread across the globe between Canada, India, multiple states in US, and a nomad traveling in an RV.

Time for the not so greats

Working from home requires a ton of self-discipline. Even though you no longer have office distraction, you are distracted by everything in your house. One of the most important things to do is set up an office or workstation dedicated for work. You can quickly fall into some bad habits if you don't keep your personal life outside your work environment.

Communication can be a challenge. You have to put more effort into talking with your team. There is no popping by someone's desk and asking for help or work through a problem. You have to rely on your chat app and hope they reply in a timely manner. My team tries to always use webcams to be more face to face and try to stay active on slack.

Team Comradery is difficult. Before working remote, my team would always go out for drinks once a week and let off steam. It's kind of impossible to do something like that when your team is spread across the world. One thing we have started doing is scheduling a meeting on Fridays where we do team building actives and try to have fun.

With the transition to working remote, companies are no longer tied to their location. Now their talent pool has increased globally. That means instead of just competing with local developers, you are now competing with developers across the world.

Having your work office right there in your home makes it difficult to separate work from personal. You always need to think about work-life balance. People that work from home typically work more hours than someone working in an office. Without having that pack up and leave feeling, it's easy to work past the time you usually clock out.

I think one of the most challenging parts is feeling isolated. Once you start working from home, you greatly decrease the number of people you see daily. You no longer see your coworkers face-to-face and usually spend way more time home alone. You can help with the feeling by regularly reaching out to people around you, always have your webcam on during meetings, and maybe work a couple of hours in a coffee shop (Post Covid).

In the end

Working remote is not for everyone. Some people need to be face to face in an office, while others don't mind being a talking head on a screen. The benefits outweigh the challenges for me. I would not go back to an office job unless there was an opportunity I could not resist in my local area. No commuting and the freedom that comes with working remote outweighs all the negatives for me.

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