In the previous article we took a look at the biggest myths about digital nomads. Today we’re going to take a look at common misconceptions about remote teams.
People have various images of remote teams. Even though remote work becomes more and more common nowadays, there are still many stereotypes about non-stationary teams. In today’s article I’m demystifying 5 biggest of such myths.
Remote teams are not productive
I think this is the most common misconception about remote teams. We often think that working from home may lead to unproductivity. Sure, it’s tempting, especially for remote work beginners, to do some household duties instead of working. Your favourite couch in a very close proximity also doesn’t help…
However, on the other hand, think how often you are disturbed in the office. People come and ask questions and interrupt you in the middle of working. Another colleague comes and invites you for coffee or lunch. Maybe there’s another, very interesting meeting which you have to – of course – attend? All these interruptions can be easily eliminated while working from home. Most of them are just not present there. The rest of tempting things such as your comfortable couch can be easily forgotten if you organize your day and workspace properly.
From my experience, I can say that I’m much more productive working remotely than being at the office. I like to organize my workspace to suit my needs in the best possible way, so I’m not disturbed by anyone (or anything) while working.
Remote teams have no social interactions
Ever imagined remote workers as sitting in front of their PCs, home alone, without talking to anyone? This might be another of the myths about remote teams.
This image is totally not true! At Yumasoft, half of our team works 100% remotely. The other guys work from home twice a week. During the pandemic in Poland everyone worked remotely for several months. We talk a lot, also about non-work-related stuff. We have team-synchronization video meetings every day. We discuss not only current tasks, but also our personal stuff. Sometimes we also share funny stories and memes 😉
Aside from daily meetings, we have a Skype group chat on which we share all kinds of information. When we sometimes meet in person in the office, we don’t feel “out of sync” from each other. Everyone knows much about the others and we really feel like a team.
Feeling connected is a matter of good company’s organization and attitude. If the company doesn’t care about good social interactions, its employees will be out of sync even sitting in the office. What’s more, remote teams need to put more attention to creating social interactions, which might even make such teams more socialized than stationary one.
Communication is very hard in a distributed team
This is one of the mostly repeated myths about remote teams. Bad communication has nothing to do with the type of team you’re part of. If the company and/or team is not well-organized, the communication can’t be smooth.
That’s true, that remote teams face a few more challenges to organize their communication channels. If everyone works from a different place, one can’t go to another person’s desk and ask something immediately. However, there are many tools and applications that make communication super easy. I already mentioned a few of them, as well as a few tips for remote work organization, in this article.
In my team at Yumasoft, we’re not only a distributed remote group of programmers, but our client is based in the Netherlands. It means that we’ve always communicated with them remotely. We’re developing and changing the product and the communication is not an issue at all. There are challenges like in every two teams’ cooperation. However, being distributed is not an excuse for bad communication practices and lack of organization.
It’s hard to find a good remote employee
Remote workers might be considered worse employees than the “stationary” ones. Also, company’s managers might be worried that they won’t be able to assess a given employee well enough before hiring her/him.
The first statement is totally not true. I would look from another perspective: if your team is remote, you can search for the best employees in the whole country (or even the whole world). You’re not limited to people looking for a job in your city or area. This gives a lot of possibilities and flexibility.
Assessing an employee’s skills remotely is also not a challenge anymore. There are many tools that make this process straightforward and easy. One of such tools is Codility – a platform that helps to perform online code assessments. Even Skype has added the Interviews feature to help to perform live recruitment.
Remote workers work less
It might be hard to associate home office with a productive environment. Traditional images of working in the office make us think that home is not a place for working, but rather for resting and relaxation.
The reality is that remote teams are often even more productive than office employees. This research says that only 7% of workers feel more productive in the office. It means that working the same amount of time, remote workers accomplish more than being in the office. That could be the reason to say that remote workers work less. They might work less, because they achieve their results faster. In reality it means that remote workers have more time to focus on quality and deliver better outcomes as a result.
On the other hand, many remote workers are freelancers or people starting their own online business. Such people work much more than office employees. Working on their own projects, especially in the beginning, often requires putting more attention than to traditional 9-5 work. Working hours are not limited and no one pays for hours worked, but for the results. Over-hours work is not uncommon amongst online entrepreneurs.
Myths about remote teams – summary
I hope this article gives a glance over myths around remote teams. Remote work is becoming much more common nowadays, which means that more people will experience it themselves. I’m sure that if you start working in a remote team you’ll see that it might be as good – or even better – as working in the office.