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As someone who currently works remote, I started thinking about some of the things I don’t really love about it. Of course, there were really only two things I could complain about: losing social interaction and losing dedicated free time.
However, I still wanted to write an article about some of the downsides of working remote, so I consulted the internet. That’s when I started to get a little frustrated. Not because I couldn’t find any resources, but because most of the resources were overly negative toward remote employees.
Among the negative comments, I read that some employers monitor productivity through all sorts of NSA-level tracking tools. Talk about trust issues. But, I guess these insecure employers just can’t stand the idea of their inferiors focusing on a dream other than their own. Anyhow, I digress.
Table of Contents
My Experience Working Remote
Before we jump into the list, I want to chat briefly about my experience working remote. If you haven’t had the chance to find out how I got in this position, I recommend reading the story behind my move to Atlanta.
I started working remote at the end of July 2017, so that puts me at about seven months into the experience. So far, it’s been pretty nice. My working hours have been a little more flexible, and I can pretty much roll out of bed and start working.
However, not everything has lived up to my expectations. For instance, working remote has been incredibly lonely. In fact, this much quiet time has totally cured me of being an introvert. I now crave the outside world like a dog in a cage, but I’m stuck like this until the end of March.
That said, I’m not in a position to return to the office, nor have I ever wished to step foot in a cubicle again. Instead, I’m focusing on this website and my future career path. At any rate, let’s get into the list.
Sure, you don’t have to deal with Steve’s racist rants anymore, but working remote often requires a lot of lonely hours staring at a computer screen. You may hate your coworkers, but they beat the hell out of working alone. After about three months, you’ll be looking for just about any human interaction.
Luckily for me, I don’t live alone. If I did, I’d probably have to start visiting coffee shops because my apartment would have become a prison cell. Actually, a prison cell probably would be an upgrade. Nobody should have to live in solitary confinement.
Oh, and I have two cats. Just don’t call me crazy.
#2: The Loss of Free Time
By proving to your employer that you can work away from the office, you have effectively shown them that work can be done from anywhere at any time. Say goodbye to vacations, holidays, and weekends. Say hello to the 70-hour work week. That’s not good for your health.
When I started working remote, life was pretty easy. I would wake up at 7:45 AM and turn on my laptop before 8:00 AM. I’d take a nice long lunch at noon, come back at 1:00 PM, and finish up my day by 5:00 PM. As the days rolled on, my manager started contacting me before the day was done just to check up. Needless to say, this resulted in me staying late several days a week because they’d want me to fix something right then and there.
Fortunately, I was able to at least keep my weekends free, but Friday nights weren’t safe. Many times I’d end up working a Friday evening just so we could get something out the door. That never would have happened at the office. Everyone would have just gone home and picked up on Monday.
#3: The Missed Communication
One of the most frustrating parts about working remote is the apparent disconnect between you and the rest of the team. As a result, people tend to forget you on paper trails like emails and meeting invites. That might sound nice at first, but eventually being left in the dark starts to effect the quality of your work. While it’s not exactly your fault, you’ll most likely get blamed for it anyway.
For me, this typically results in missed or forgotten software requirements. My team is pretty bad at documenting their needs, so I often end up creating a solution that fails our integration tests. Of course, the finger-pointing starts with me, so I’m forced to go back and rework my solution.
#4: The Reduced Power
Even with videoconferencing, it’s hard to have that same decision-making power you had in the office. As a result, you usually spend more time following orders. That’s nice in a sense because you don’t really have to work as hard. However, the experience can be far less fulfilling. That said, so is being restrained to a cubicle, so pick your poison.
For me, I lost a ton of decision-making power. At this point, I’ve just been told I have a set number of tasks to complete by the end of March, and that’s all there is to it. So, decision-making tends to happen at a smaller scale. I don’t get to decide what we work on, but I do control the implementation almost entirely.
#5: The Constant Judgement
As I mentioned before, working remote opens you up to a lot more criticism than normal. After all, you don’t physically sit in the office, so everyone assumes you have it easy. As a result, you’re stuck working quite a bit harder than others simply to prove yourself.
For me, criticism often manifested itself in the form of my manager. They would call me up once or twice a day just to check in. As you can probably imagine, this wasted an incredible amount of time. Instead of working, I was stuck explaining my work to my manager.
To make matters worse, my manager would check my work. Unfortunately, they were incapable of testing my work properly which usually resulted in a follow-up call. “I tested it – it doesn’t work,” they would say. At that point, I’d be forced to play 20 questions with them until I discovered their error. It almost always was the result of them running the wrong script.
On the Bright side
Despite these five reasons, I prefer to work remote. As you’ll find out shortly, the corporate engineering environment is a toxic hellscape plagued with greed and incompetence. In other words, tune in March 30th for the official kick off of my engineering rant series: A String of Unfavorable Roles.