"Why do you want to work remotely?" As the CEO of Aha! -- a fully distributed company of more than 40 people -- I am surprised by how infrequently I have to ask this question. Most job candidates are eager to explain their motivation when they apply. One wrote that he wanted to explore the world, while still having the security of a paycheck. Another candidate thought that the flexible hours would allow her to work on her "side hustle."
These types of comments always lead me to the same conclusion -- they are glossing over the "work" part of remote work.
This is one of the most pervasive myths about fully distributed teams and remote work -- that it is a means to earn a paycheck while you pursue your real passions. The reality is that remote work is simply the opportunity to do fulfilling work from anywhere. And to be happy doing that work.
The motivations for why people pursue remote work may vary, but there is no doubting its popularity. In fact, researchers found that the average worker is willing to take an 8 percent pay cut to work from home.
No one should have to take a pay cut to enjoy the freedom of a remote job. But I do think you need to be clear about what it is -- and is not -- before you pursue working remotely. I already touched on the "remote work is just a paycheck" myth. But let's dig into some of the others.
Here are four big myths about remote work:
1. "Working from home is distracting."
Reality: There are actually fewer distractions at home. Researchers found that productivity increased by one-third when workers were allowed to work remotely. The theory is that your home provides a quieter, less distracting work environment -- free from the "cake in the break room" effect. Remote workers also tend to start the day earlier and take fewer sick days. Simply put -- they get more done.
2. "Remote work is lonely."
Reality: Technology offers plenty of ways for remote teams to connect. Forget listening in to stale conference calls -- today's remote teams communicate via video chats and group messaging tools. Our team at Aha! uses group messaging throughout the day to share everything from random pet photos to gratitude for a team member. And when we need to sort out a work issue, we hop on a video chat. We are not the only team to experience this type of bond. In fact, one Gallup poll indicated that remote workers feel actually more connected to their companies than on-site workers.
3. "There is no company culture."
Reality: Your company culture is not defined by in-office "perks." Instead, it is based on the company's values and goals. This was confirmed by a recent study, which found that a positive workplace culture includes six essential characteristics: caring for colleagues as friends, providing support, avoiding blame, inspiring one another, emphasizing meaningful work, and treating one another with respect. You know what did not make the list? Things like beer taps and ping pong tables.
4. "Anyone can work remotely."
Reality: Not everyone will excel on a fully distributed team. If you do not enjoy working autonomously or you crave a constant flow of in-person water cooler banter, then remote work might not be the best fit for you. That is why fully distributed teams need to hire for motivation -- people who are intrinsically driven to deliver their best work.
Remote work seems to conjure up images of lounging in your pajamas by day and chasing your dreams at night. But those of us who are members of fully distributed teams know that is not the case.
Remote workers are self-motivated and hard-working. (And yes, sometimes they do that hard work from a coffee shop.) They are also great team players because they are happier for it.
So if you have the chance to join a remote team, ask yourself why. If your answer is something like, "I want to pursue achievement while being able to design my workday to fit the demands of my life," then you might be on the right track.
What remote work myths would you add to the list?