Three myths debunked about remote working

Coaching Delivery Method

Over the past 15 years, I have heard three common storylines being articulated around remote working, they are unhelpful yet common myths that many organisations and managers fear when teams are shifting too remote working.  Let’s briefly take a look at each of them, and quickly debunk them so that you can stop worrying and get down to effective remote team working.  

Myth 1:  People will deliver less when remote working…

This is such a common myth, I’ve even had conversations in the last couple of days with companies who are asking for help to combat the anticipated drop in performance they are expecting as people move to remote working.  

Here’s the truth, people work harder at delivering the goods when remote working.  It’s a fact.  People are not stupid, they know that they will be assessed more by what they deliver, then how they go about delivering it.   They fear they will only be known by their outputs, and so work even harder to deliver.  

Myth 2:  They will be less available…

Now we are not in the office together, we can believe that people will suddenly become less available for a conversation.  Again this is so wrong.  In the real remote world what happens is that people strive to be available all day long and beyond.  I have spoken with remote workers who have said they have answered their mobile phones on the loo, just to make sure that they are seen as being present!  

Peoples responsiveness in almost every case goes up when they start remote working.  It’s partly this desire to show themselves present, but also the fact that they have way more natural interruptions and often way less meetings.  

Myth 3:  They won’t work a full working day…

For some reason, there is this fear that people will skive off (as we used to call it when I was at school).  They will work a shortened day, taking longer lunch breaks, starting later, finishing earlier etc.  The truth is the opposite.  

All the indications are that remote workers work longer hours, they blur the work / home borders and out more activity time in than if they were in the office.  It’s thought that there are two main reasons for this.  Firstly they want to be seen as available (Myth 2) but also that they no longer have the commute to deal with.  They have breakfast, get dressed and very often open their laptops and start working.  It’s the same at the end of the day.  They work past the core hours into their traditional commute times.  

If anything, we need to be careful to put healthy boundaries in place, so that people don’t cause frustrations in the home, because they are answering emails just before getting into bed!  

Perhaps now it’s especially time to but these myths to bed, removing our obsession about them, and instead start focusing on putting really great remote team practices in place.  

Bob Bannister

Ships Captain