Myth: I’ll Have More Control Over My Daily Schedule
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60% of remote workers still work a fixed-schedule job five days a week, involving meetings, video calls, and plenty of collaborative work. It’s likely that this schedule correlates with the majority of remote companies still being hybrid, which could constrain remote team members to more traditional in-office schedules. But even if your schedule is not a traditional 9-to-5 routine, that doesn’t mean you truly get to do whatever you want, whenever you choose.
caution In some remote teams, handling time zone differences can mean occasional odd hours for meetings. Distributed teams often work across time zones, and you’ll be collaborating with people on the other side of the country or the world. We’ve provided ways to manage that later, but differing time zones can be either a benefit or a drawback. Managed well, time differences let you get stuff done in your working day with fewer interruptions; but managed badly, they can lead to long lead times, misunderstandings, or meetings at undesirable hours—and can even exacerbate feelings of isolation and loneliness.
Myth: There Will Be Fewer Distractions
Despite favoring remote work over an office environment for reducing distractions, many people who work remotely end up managing a whole set of surprising new distractions. Barking dogs, construction next door, family or friends wanting to visit, door-to-door salespeople—they can be just as frustrating or disruptive as colleagues tapping you on the shoulder, especially when you’re on a video call with a group of people. A few consistent examples include:
Family and friends. It’s important to set strong boundaries on your availability with your loved ones—just because you’re working from home doesn’t mean they can turn up any time for coffee, or treat you as an emergency babysitter. Having a separate office space where you live helps significantly with this, though we realize that’s not always possible. That said, getting the balance right with friends and family can be excellent for your mental health. As with any other possible work distractions, balance is what really matters.
Digital distractions. While these are an issue for office workers as well, digital distractions (social media, e-mail, IMs, et cetera) can be particularly tempting when you’re on your own and don’t have as much built-in social interaction as you would in an office. We’re big fans of Cal Newport’s Deep Work, which helps people set aside distractions and get into a flow-based focus mode. The Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) also has a set of helpful tips for managing your digital appetite, and Zapier lists a few apps you can try as well.
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