Considering the drawbacks of remote work
Is remote work good for my career?
I’ve worked remotely before so I get it: rolling out of bed right before work, looking out your kitchen window at the sunrise while you check email and sip coffee, taking a neighborhood walk to break up the work day—it’s pretty nice. For many other people, such as those with kids or those with certain disabilities, this can be a godsend allowing them to have a schedule that actually works for them or a work environment where they’re comfortable and productive.
For these reasons, I think that remote work will always have a place, as it should. But I think it’s still relatively new and it’s important to point out some of the drawbacks. Also, if you’re considering remote work for the first time, be sure to check out our article here.
Remote work downsides:
1) The jobs are highly competitive to attain.
According to Google, there are twice as many people looking for “remote jobs” as there are people looking for “jobs.” This is pretty consistent with the job seekers I meet. They often ask about remote work and then only reluctantly agree to consider on-site jobs or hybrid roles. Also, its estimated by Zippia that only 15% of jobs are work from home. So, if you are only considering remote jobs, realize that you will be competing against WAY more people for way fewer jobs.
2) Remote workers may be more likely to get laid off.
In a survey of 3000 managers by beautiful.ai, 60% agree that remote workers are more likely to be laid off first (only 20% said this is unlikely). Laying off people is hard—but perhaps these conversations are made a little easier when the person is not sitting across the table from you? Perhaps its made a little easier when you don’t have lunch with them in the break room every day?
3) You may be less likely to get promoted.
Face time matters for your work life: a lot of interpersonal relationships develop in the workplace and its easier for your manager to see the great work that you do when they can see it in person. That’s not to say you can’t get promoted but that it might be harder to develop rapport with your bosses and colleagues. Also, you might have to be more deliberate about demonstrating your hard work. This trend has been called by Fast Company the “Zoom ceiling” after their study found remote workers less likely to get promoted.
4) Your boss probably likes the office.
Odd are, your boss probably enjoys working on-site and got to where they are from going into the office. For many people, their work life dominates their social life. You may be able to tout evidence of remote worker productivity, of which there’s plenty of recent discussion, but that alone won’t overcome their natural preference. After all, when you work remotely, they now have to spend a large portion of their week talking you on on video chat.
5) It can be lonely.
I can personally say that I prefer working remotely on days where I need to deeply focus on a project. However, I nearly always find myself working through lunch, rarely take that afternoon walk, and at the end of the day I’m longing to talk to someone in person, to collaborate, and I find myself eager for validation on my work product. Some of my remote coworkers describe how they’ll go out to eat dinner at a restaurant, even alone, just to be around other people.
We’re all going to have different experiences working remotely. My boss and many of my colleagues work remotely. Many of them HAVE been successfully promoted. I’ve worked remotely as well as in a hybrid environment. There can be some incredible advantages to remote work, but it’s also important to evaluate some of these drawbacks too.