What do you not like about remote work?

Question: What do you not like about remote work? Read answers from remote workers to learn.

Interview with Chanell, a freelance writer and social media manager

One of the issues I have with remote work is more so unique to freelance work. As a freelancer, it can be difficult to understand the state and tax laws: paying quarterly, estimated vs. actual earnings, and paying online.

This situation has been a bit of a challenge I have had to get used to and learn a lot about.

The other issue is the isolation. I am an introvert by nature, so working alone is not a problem for me. However, there are times where it would be nice to work with someone who is in a similar situation. I have made a practice of having co-working days with old college friends and attending lunches with professional contacts to combat these feelings.

Chanell is a freelance writer working from Atlanta that writes about business management tips and video game entertainment threads.

Read full interview from Interview with Chanell, a freelance writer and social media manager.

Interview with Deb, a sales copywriter who transitioned from software development

There are a few downsides about remote work, in my view these are:

  • The feast or famine cycle – At times I’ve had more work than I can handle, at other times I’ve had to go weeks before I got a proper project. This can be a challenge at times.
  • The absence of face to face interaction with colleagues – One of the biggest drawbacks of remote work is working on my own. Feeling isolated is a reality especially when I am doing a long-term project which means I am tied to my laptop for weeks on end.
  • Building fresh client relationships from scratch – Its not just getting a project, executing it and moving on to the next one. Its all about building new client relationships each time you bid for a project so that you can sell your skills to them. If your wavelength and your client’s wavelength doesn’t match, then you could face a problem.
  • Clients ending projects abruptly – A couple of times I’ve faced the situation of clients ending projects abruptly. One time, there was this client who’d signed me up for a 6 month plus project asking for a firm commitment from me for 38 hours per week. As a result, I declined a lot of other projects, after starting that one. Imagine my situation after a month when the client told me that he had to end the project even though my work had been exemplary. The reason he gave me was that he was facing a sudden cash crunch because of some another project that he had to work on. Not a very happy situation for me to be in!
  • Clients not paying on time or not paying at all – I have been reasonably lucky to have been paid by clients most of the time. However, there have been a couple of instances (outside of Upwork), when the client disappeared without paying me after I did my work and gave it to them. Another instance, I had to follow up with the client for 2 months before I got the payment.
  • No company sponsored benefits – As a freelancer, I have to grapple with not having access to any benefits that are usually provided by companies. So, I don’t have any company sponsored medical insurance, pension plan, paid leave, sick leave.
  • Juggling multiple clients – I don’t have one boss to answer to which can be an issue sometimes. At times I have more than one client (max I’ve dealt with at the same time is 7 clients). Each client’s work is equally important, and I have to deal with managing their expectations, responding to all of them promptly, and ensuring that they are satisfied with my deliverables. Doing this can be a mental strain.
  • Having to take care of all the business aspects myself – Since I am a one-man shop, I have to take care of all the business aspects myself. From marketing, sales, invoicing (when not working on Upwork), troubleshooting technology, keeping track of tax deductible expenses etc.
  • No one to back me up if I am injured or sick – A very big problem when working as a remote worker. As an employee of a company, I used to have colleagues who would take up the slack if I was unwell. But, as a remote worker this can be a major issue. I’ve lost one large project because I was out of action for 2 weeks due to sickness.

Deb made the jump from full-time software developer to freelance sales copywriter—learn how he made the transition.

Read full interview from Interview with Deb, a sales copywriter who transitioned from software development.

Interview with Ben, a CEO/Engineer who works remotely

One of the hardest things to do when you have a completely flexible schedule is to know when to stop! When you can work at anytime, you can sometimes feel guilty when you're not working, as you know you could be.

Ben is a CEO/Engineer who works remotely - find out how he balances working at home and family life!

Read full interview from Interview with Ben, a CEO/Engineer who works remotely.

Interview with Max, a Deep Learning Engineer with a winning strategy for distractions

So far the positive aspects of remote work predominate for me. However, individuals can make the maintenance of flexibility a challenge. For example, if someone else has an actual, physical meeting, however nonsensical it might be, it can be hard to argue that you need to sit down in a cafe and code right now.

After a chance Twitter conversation, Max found a remote position as a Deep Learning Engineer —see how he manages distractions and maintains focus throughout his day.

Read full interview from Interview with Max, a Deep Learning Engineer with a winning strategy for distractions.

Interview with Gregory, a Senior Software Developer

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.

Gregory is a senior software developer working from home - learn how he finds the balance between lack of focus and hyperfocus.

Read full interview from Interview with Gregory, a Senior Software Developer.

Interview with Alexandra, a freelance fashion designer building her own brand

I had to learn to manage my time and to learn to be stricter with myself at the beginning but that is not an issue anymore.

At the moment, I really enjoy working remotely because it gives me enough freedom to focus on my own brand.

Alexandra is a freelance fashion designer who works remotely while traveling and building her own brand.

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Interview with Michael, a VFX artist that works remotely

It is very inconsistent to say the least. There are times I may get to work for 6 months which is great, and then no work for 6 months.

Some of the clients aren’t very understanding at all. When Hurricane Harvey hit south Texas I was in the middle of a contract where the power went out. They were so angry with me telling me to use my hotspot and a laptop to finish, but it was a natural disaster there was no power anywhere. After I went through all the extra effort to turn in something I wasn’t even paid for the work.

Some clients won’t pay out for the work you do for them, which is one reason I started at Upwork. I had one client I told not to update the software without reworking all of the scripts and they did it anyway a year later. Came back and told me to fix it because it was my fault it doesn’t work anymore.

I’ve even had a client not like the fact the person they hired wasn’t the person they wanted to see.

So a summary of not enough work, rude clients, chance of not getting paid unless you use something to manage your accounts such as Upwork, and slow.

Do not get me wrong, not all clients are like these I’ve had about 5 really horrible clients and about 14 good ones so far.

Documenting everything that includes chat logs, phone conversations, emails, contracts, company name, contractor information, phone numbers if given, literally every time I have had an issue with a client I go back to my documentation.

People in general are human and if they don’t understand why something happened or they don’t remember it is your job to make sure you can go back and find where something was done or said.

Skype saves message chat logs forever in your settings. No one should be able to rip you off if you keep everything filed. Upload it to a secondary cloud server so you will never have to worry about it.

Michael is a freelance visual effects (VFX) artist, creating 3d models, mockups and videos while working remotely.

Read full interview from Interview with Michael, a VFX artist that works remotely.

Interview with Hannah, a freelance writer that travels the world

For me, the hardest part of working from my computer is that it involves a lot of sitting. Too much sitting is terrible for your health. I’ve even heard people say that in some ways it’s as bad for your health as smoking.

Since right now I’m a complete digital nomad without a home base, it doesn’t make sense to invest in a standing desk. Some coworking spaces have standing options, but that’s not always the case, and I don’t always have a coworking space.

This means I need to get creative to keep healthy blood circulation flowing. There are a lot of tasks I need to sit for, but you can bet that if I don’t need to sit for a task, I’ll try to avoid it. If I’m on the phone, I’ll try to walk around. If I need to watch a video, I’m watching it while I’m doing squats or stretching.

Another tough aspect of remote work is that it can be isolating not working near other people. If there is a social coworking space nearby, I highly recommend signing up for it.

Coffee shops are a bit too noisy for me, but it’s another option. If a significant other or friend can also work remotely, try working in the same room. It may seem silly to have somebody nearby if you aren’t communicating frequently, but it’s still nice to have someone there for occasional chatting.

Hannah is a freelancer writer and social media manager that travels the world while working remotely. Read her interview to learn how she works.

Read full interview from Interview with Hannah, a freelance writer that travels the world.

Interview with Igor Kulman, a software engineer building iOS apps remotely

Working remotely can sometimes get lonely. You can feel isolated, missing human contact. Communication can be also a bit tricky sometimes. It helps to work for a company that is remote, meaning most of the people are working remotely so the tools and workflows reflect that.

Igor converted a part-time contract into a full-time remote software engineering job—learn how he did it and his tips for working remotely.

Read full interview from Interview with Igor Kulman, a software engineer building iOS apps remotely.

Interview with John, a web developer who works from home

I love pretty much everything about working remotely, but there definitely are a few challenges.

When you work with a team 8 hours a day for months or even years, they become your friends as well as co-workers. Not having the option to end the day with an impromptu group going out for a meal is a bummer. For me, having a meal with my team would require a lot of planning and travel.

When I was running a business, I was really terrible at setting boundaries. It became very easy to be at my desk every waking moment. This lead to some terrible burnout.

I'm much better about it now, but I have to stay on top of it so that I don't fall back into old habits.

John is a web developer running a mini-agency inside a larger WordPress agency - learn how calendar management and establishing boundaries have helped him boost his productivity.

Read full interview from Interview with John, a web developer who works from home.

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