I have had the unique experience of working for a large consulting company the last two years with over 300,000 employees globally. My company promotes the 100% remote lifestyle more than most others I know, and I have spent the majority of 2017 working from my kitchen table Monday through Friday.
When I mention this to most folks they are normally envious… and an alarming amount ask me if I wear pants while working (I do...most days). If I were in their shoes, I would act in a similar way. Working from the kitchen table with your fridge and a pot of coffee to yourself, flexibility to knock out errands, and no commute must be the life, right?
In many senses, they are correct. Working remotely can provide tremendous value when life outside of work remains hectic and requires your involvement - say, a cross country move, for example - or when you work abnormal hours and would be alone in an office setting regardless.
However since beginning this process and working remotely full time most weeks, there are some key lesser-known down sides that should be considered when looking at a solely remote opportunity.
You work more. This may surprise you, but I work easily over 25% more from my kitchen than I did when commuting to the office. On the west coast, you are often needed at 9AM EST and can work as late as 6-7PM PST on any busier day, so your average time at work can increase significantly. When one commutes to the office each day, there is a sense of “Okay, I am leaving work for the day to go home and relax,” whereas remote workers can always be back at the desk and working.
So, if you’re one who appreciates a fine line between work and play, perhaps a pseudo-remote role would suit you better. When your organization is fully invested in many remote workers, there are far less excuses around meeting attendance, deliverables and work in general.
Offices provide energy. Sure, getting up on a rainy Tuesday morning to head to work can be a real drag. But I will be the first person to admit that once you arrive in an office (especially as someone who is most often remote) you have a sense of extrovertedness and purpose that can be hard to replicate outside of the hustle and bustle. People dressed for work, in meeting rooms, in the break room, hell even small talk by the Keurig can generate a sense of motivation not found in the kitchen with your cats.
Perhaps it’s only by missing the office life for a while that one feels this way when present? Either way, if you are someone who would appreciate some human interaction more often than solitude, find a remote position with an office available to you when needed. My organization has offices in every major city, and sometimes a visit to the water cooler does wonders as a remote worker.
You have to be disciplined and autonomous. Nothing would be easier than ducking out of work early some days, believe me. Or turning on the TV at noon and throwing a few “meetings” on your calendar so you appear busy for the remainder of the day. Or straight up neglecting work in general. Being at home provides a myriad of distractions that can easily take priority over work.
That said, you really need to be the type of person who can remain dedicated and deliver quality work no matter your location to succeed remotely. If not, such a privilege can be revoked or scaled back very quickly, as companies are always leery of remote productivity at first. Know yourself, know what it takes to motivate you, and commit to delivering for your team from day one. If you do, nobody will ever even ask where you work.
I hope this sheds some light on an increasingly common practice for those new to the lifestyle. I would still pick working remotely over a full 9-5, but be mindful that nothing is ever as easy or wonderful as it seems.