I really love remote work, and I’m grateful for the chance to experience it all. But if you asked me what I don’t like about it, these are some things I had in mind:
I work mostly at home with my family (my mom, dad, and sister). My parents work mostly from home too, and we eat out a lot, or just randomly decide to watch a movie on weekdays. So that’s one thing I have to balance with my work constantly.
As much as I do not like office drama, I miss the camaraderie from working with colleagues on-site. You can’t replace that with conference calls and icebreaker questions.
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I occasionally miss office snacks, although it’s probably net positive for my health.
We get together as a leadership team a few times a year, and that in-person time to connect and brainstorm is always energizing. I’m hopeful that we can do more of that with the team in years to come.
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There is no one to bounce ideas off of when you’re working alone. This can be mitigated by joining a coworking space or working in pods (a few remote workers working together, whether on the same thing if they’re all employees of the same company or everyone working on their own thing).
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Not getting to meet my clients face to face often or at all, especially when I've built up a good working relationship with them, or even made friends.
The perception from many companies that remote workers are lazy, or that you have to be in an office to work this job, or to be effective.
Strong communication is so important to being effective, but also, you don't have to have eyes on me to know I'm working.
Interruptions from family and friends. This is hard one sometimes, because some people don't listen to this, and try to interrupt you because "you're home, so you're not doing anything important."
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I guess it can be a bit lonely at times, since interacting with coworkers face-to-face is no longer a huge part of my day.
I lean towards that being more of a good thing than a bad thing, though, because I’m so introverted, and I can always see friends when I need to.
Also, working remotely forces me to be self-motivating and hold myself accountable, and that can be a challenge at times, especially when dealing with depression.
As a freelancer in particular, I have to get used to putting myself out there, and dealing with a lot of rejection, which can be really emotionally difficult.
I knew that going in though, so I prepared myself, but there are certain days where it still gets me down.
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When I worked fully remote, in my previous role, I found it difficult to see how my career could advance where I wanted it to go. Now that I go to the office two days per week, I feel that I have a better balance.
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Sometimes I do feel stifled and want to change my atmosphere. That's when I go to the restaurant right across the street and work from there.
I live in a country club, and there are landscapers often working on the property. The loud noise of leaf blowers can be bothersome.
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If the company really values remote work, there isn't a ton I don't like.
It makes communication harder. This is something that every remote worker I know needs to continuously put in effort for.
The biggest thing missing is the ability to "overhear" things. If you are in an office with others, you might overhear that Bob is having trouble with that same component that you had trouble with last week, you might be able to offer him some pointers, or that Sarah is brainstorming a bit with Michael on ways to design this element, and you would like to be a part of that conversation so you can go over and ask. But when working remotely, you don't get that.
Conversations naturally tend to happen only with the people that they were meant to: Bob asked his boss about that issue, Sara and Michael had a call to discuss the design, and you never heard anything about any of it.
A policy of having conversations in a "public" space (like a Slack channel, GitHub issues, or some other kind of company "forum") can go a very long way toward solving a lot of this trouble, in my opinion.
Companies that don't understand the amount of work, and how much they need to really try to create a good remote work environment, are a really big downside. I don't really believe that it can work well unless a significant portion of the company works remote, or unless there are some very core very early employees that work remote.
Also, getting the job in the first place can be very difficult. You aren't competing against those in your area, you aren't even competing against those who are willing to relocate to that area, you are competing against the entire country, and in some cases the whole world.
Getting a job is a lot harder when statistically there is probably someone else out there looking for a job that will do it for less than you, and might even do a better job than you.
Add to that the fact that remote-work is still uncommon, and you now have a much larger pool of talented developers competing for a much smaller group of potential companies.
I don't really have any advice here, but it is a problem that I have encountered in the past, and it is a big downside to trying to work remotely.
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It's hard to build a friendly rapport with people that you've never met in person!
Clients don't get know the little quirks that make you unique when you're fully remote.
While I do hop on Zoom chats with clients when I can, speaking to someone over video isn't quite the same as grabbing a coffee in person or bumping into one another in the office. You must work harder to remind clients that there's a human behind the screen!
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The thing about remote work that I think worries most people is the lack of human interaction. To make up for that, I make sure to plan lunch dates with friends and have activities outside of work.
Plus many remote jobs require some amount of travel which gets you out of the house and have in-person time with your co-workers.
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