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 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!

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Interview with Bennah, a remote ESL teacher that teaches kids English all over the world

What I do not like about remote work is that sometimes, I have difficulty understanding what the clients want since language barrier is really a deal.

And the job is not permanent so you do not know if it would really compensate you well since there are no fix salary rates for the job.

Bennah is an ESL (English as a Second Language) Teacher who teaches students from all around the world while working from home.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Interview with Cameron, a designer who works remotely at a WordPress agency

The only downside is that I sometimes miss the person to person interactions of working in an office space.

To make sure I don't turn into a hermit, I make sure to schedule time with friends at least once per week to hang out or play sports.

Learn how Cameron started full-time remote work after trying freelancing and starting a digital agency.

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Interview with Hanling, a data scientist that works remotely on machine learning

If we have a long-term remote job to dedicate in, that's absolutely ideal. But the more cases freelancers experience are that they have to keep on looking for new jobs.

We have to waste a lot of time viewing and applying for jobs. And we may spend a lot of time analyzing the problem clients proposed, chatting with clients to know details and making bids but to find they have a surprising low budget or short time frame, or they are just consulting multiple people without the aim to pay.

These make me feel distressed.

So what remote work frustrates me most is not having steady work to do and wasting time looking for new jobs.

Hanling started working remotely as a student and now does freelance machine learning and data analysis for clients all around the world.

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Interview with Jenna, a freelance writer who works remotely to help manage her health

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.

Jenna started working remotely after realizing her office job was causing health problems—now she works as a freelance writer and writes about self-improvement

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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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