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6 misconceptions of remote work—and what really matters
People have different opinions about remote work. But what’s actually true, and what’s unjustified legend? Here’s the truth about common remote work myths.
Last updated18 Aug 2022
Reading time6 min
For some people, remote work is a godsend. For others, it has ruined a job they previously loved. And for some, well, they still don’t know what they prefer.
The reality is, we’re all still getting used to it in one way or another.
But despite over two years of remote experimentation, misconceptions about working remotely persist.
Here are six myths that persist about remote work. Along with what really matters.
Myth 1. “I won’t have the equipment or environment I need to be productive (not to mention the in-office snacks)”
Truth: you can have just as good a work setup at home as in the office.
Ergonomic chairs and desks, big screens, good lights, reliable internet, video conferencing tools—all of these are easily added to any home.
If you need more space, quieter space, or a more lively space, coworking options abound. And if snacks are your concern, I bet your local grocery store has everything you had in the office fridge.
But these things aren’t always cheap.
What matters: your company supports your remote work setup with actual dinero.
Companies save on office expenses when people work from home. So any company serious about offering remote work should pitch in on the expenses they’re no longer paying for.
Read more about how Hotjar supports its fully remote team with multiple budgets.
Myth 2. “My coworkers and manager won’t believe I’m actually working all the time”
Truth: you show you’re working by producing what’s expected, on time.
Many people confuse looking busy with actually doing work that matters. But while responding quickly to Slack messages proves you’re alive, it doesn’t mean you’re actually doing the important work you were hired to do. Looking busy is not the same as actually getting things done. So just stop that.
And let’s be honest: you don’t work all the time, even when you’re in the office. You chat with colleagues, take bathroom breaks, and find other needed moments of downtime. That’s all okay and normal, and you should keep doing that.
But remote work allows more than periodic rest. You can slip away to a doctor’s appointment or your kid’s school and make up the time later.
What matters: trust.
You gain trust by doing your work well and on time. If you do this time and time again, no one should be freaking out when your Slack light’s not glowing green.
Trust is also about open communication. One way we do this is by adding personal appointments to our calendars. This way, others in the team know when we’re away and why we’re not answering messages. As long the work gets done, what’s the problem?
Myth 3. “I’ll have less access to key information”
Truth: information sharing has nothing to do with remote work.
When was the last time someone in the office passed you a paper folder full of printed docs and charts? You get it. Everything is created and shareable digitally, so transparency is about the decision and follow-through to share information.
What matters: your company believes in transparency.
Do leaders in your company share information in company meetings or other public forums that feel honest and authentic (like our Founder David did here, or our CEO Mohannad did here)? Are company presentations, financials, and salary ranges available so that people can find out what’s really going on (like we can)?
You might ask about the subtler ways that company info is shared, like the casual observations of workplace dynamics, or the insights into office politics gleaned over coffee chats.
Well, you still pick up on workplace dynamics through online interactions. And you can, and should, still make time for tea with remote colleagues, even if through a screen.
Myth 4. “I’ll lose those little human touches with colleagues”
Truth: you can foster meaningful connections remotely, but it does take a different kind of effort.
Okay, we admit that a video call might not be the same as sitting at the same table having a coffee. But we’ve also realized, again and again, that remote relationships can be built that are as strong and meaningful as those in the office.
What matters: you take time to make time.
It can take a little more effort, though. In the office, you spontaneously bump into people. Online you have to be a little more proactive. But it can be as simple as scheduling a 15-minute casual catchup, or shooting off a quick joke or gif to a friend in Slack.
Your company should also support periodic team get-togethers or retreats, even when people are scattered across the globe. Like Hotjar does, twice a year: once fully remote and once in some interesting location.
Myth 5. “I’m going to be stuck in video calls all day”
Truth: meaningful meeting time is about conscientious planning, not whether you’re in or out of the office.
We’ve all been stuck in video-call marathons at one point or another. And we tend to leave these feeling somewhere between bored and brain dead. More to the point: too many meetings are irrelevant and unnecessary. The problem isn't the video calls themselves (there’s no remote work without them). The problem is how they’re used.
What matters: you and your company encourage best practices for async communication.
So much of our communication could be async, but we instead mindlessly book meetings where everyone is present at the same time. To help us with this, our CEO recently posted 8 guidelines for running more productive meetings, which includes knowing when not to have them at all.
Myth 6. “New people joining the company will be under-trained and under-cared for”
Truth: it may be harder to get started in a fully remote environment, but it’s up to the company to facilitate the process.
Empathy is key here. It’s important for companies, teams, managers, and colleagues to put themselves into the shoes of someone just joining the company.
Sure, this includes having access to essential info in a clear, not-overwhelming manner. But it’s also about the human touches. Having colleagues that reach out to say hi and offer assistance. Having a manager that checks in and gives you the time you need to get situated. And finally, acknowledging that you probably have yet to perfect the process.
What matters: empathy and concern for continuous improvement.
Even if you care, you won’t get it right the first time. So be open to feedback, and make changes as needed. In fact, it’s the dedication to continuous improvement that shows you care.
You can learn more about how Hotjar welcomes new joiners in this onboarding guide for newly remote teams.
As much as we love it, we admit that remote work isn’t perfect. It’s got pros and cons, and the details vary from company to company. But we’ve found that empathy, trust, and open communication can do a lot to dispel common remote-work myths. We also know that listening to feedback and topping off those remote budgets helps, too.
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