I’ve been working remotely over the past five years with a large financial company. I show up at the office one day a week as well as for mandatory meetings. I love the freedom and being to have a work-life balance. I’m always available for my boss with whom I am in constant contact. I get my work done.
However, I’m concerned about being so removed from the other team members and that I’m missing something. What is your opinion of working remotely?
Signed: Missing Something
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Dear Missing Something
Alex Turnball, CEO/Founder of the blog GrooveHQ presents the bad and the good about working remotely in start-up companies. I would argue that the same negatives apply to working outside the office.
Let’s examine the challenges of working outside of the office:
It’s a skill. Not all employees make a great remote employee. Most people don’t have the organization, focus and motivation to be productive working remotely. Being a successful employee working from home is a skill. It takes time and a commitment to develop that skill, and the traditional office culture doesn’t give us any reason to do that.
Integrating into the Company culture. There’s a lot more to the workplace culture than having an office. At the end of the day, culture is about shared values and goals. But having everyone in one place makes it a lot easier to build that culture. Research shows that most learning is informal – through conversations at the water cooler, in the lunchroom, or in the hallways. Same applies to building relationships. It happens organically through networking, gathering information, and keeping up to date on the latest in the company. The more exposure team members have to each other, the more developed and defined that culture becomes.
Communication gets harder. With team members in different time zones and on different schedules, and you are working from home, there are very few times when everyoneis available. When you work alone from home, it gets harder to access the information you need to get the job done. When you are at the office, it’s much easier to walk over to someone’s desk to obtain the information you need, or find out who the right person is to ask, especially when there is urgent fixes. In an office, if someone isn’t responding to an email, it’s easy enough to stop by their desk and get what you need.
Collaboration can be a challenge. Typically, employees work best together with people they know, like and trust. When you work remotely, you miss out on building deeper professional networks with your colleagues, and perhaps even the boss. Unless the company offers different programs that encourage collaboration such as retreats, or community events, you run the risk of not getting the information that you want and need or knowing the key players in your team or company.
So, when deciding whether to work remotely, it is important to consider all the advantages and disadvantages. Don’t underestimate the challenges posed by working remotely. If the company will allow you the choice, make sure to spend some meaningful time at the office so that you are able to gain from the opportunities that come from team work and collaboration.