Prior to 2020, spending eight hours in an office was totally normal. Remote work, on the other hand, was nothing but professional folklore — something feared, doubted, scoffed at. Remote workers were like Bigfoot or Sasquatch; existing at the fringe of society, heavily disputed, rarely seen. While the work from home movement has gone mainstream over the last few years, many of the myths surrounding remote workers remain. So let’s explore these lingering misconceptions and see where they fall short of reality.
Common Misconceptions About Remote Workers
1. They Aren’t Productive
Have you ever wondered about gargoyles? (Probably not, but stick with me for this analogy.) Perched atop cathedrals, these stone creatures are usually out of sight, out of mind. But when you do happen to catch a glimpse of one, you’re probably wondering what they do up there all day. Do they serve a purpose? Or are they just decorative? Turns out they’re basically medieval gutters, redirecting rainwater away from buildings.
Like gargoyles, the contributions of remote employees are often overlooked because they’re not directly in front of your face. The question of productivity has been at the center of the remote work debate for years: Are remote workers actually working? Or are they just sitting at home collecting a paycheck for watching Netflix?
Gargoyles wouldn’t be nearly as useful somewhere lower on the building where you can see them all the time. The same is true for many remote workers; between bagels in the breakroom, conversations around the watercooler and the constant chatter, the office can be an incredibly distracting place to work. But working from home can eliminate a lot of these distractions. As a matter of fact, a Harvard Business Review study (from before the pandemic) found that remote workers were 13.5 percent more productive than their in-office counterparts!
2. They Need Special Equipment
Minimizing expenses is a top priority for most business leaders. It’s no surprise that so many managers worry about the perceived cost of remote workers. Do they need additional equipment? More technical support?
It’s critical to remember that a remote worker is just like any other employee; their equipment needs are virtually identical. They don’t need a magic wand or pixie dust to stay productive — they just need unified communications. Whether employees are at the office or at home, your business will benefit from a UC platform like Microsoft Teams or Webex for communication and collaboration.
Most organizations save money with remote workers. That same study by HBR found that remote employees led to an estimated $1,900 in savings per person. Office equipment and space requirements are significantly reduced, so you can invest in other parts of your business.
3. They’re Out of Touch
Employee engagement has become a major focal point of modern business, and managers have a lot of questions about maintaining culture and communication in a virtual environment. Can people contribute to corporate culture if they’re remote? Can knowledge and information be efficiently shared through a screen? Can we ensure people are up-to-date if we can’t share announcements face-to-face?
Your remote workers aren’t merpeople. You don’t have to send them a message in a bottle or cast a spell to give them legs. They are perfectly capable of communicating digitally. If you’ve stayed in touch with distant relatives through social media or made a phone call to someone in another city, this isn’t unfamiliar territory.
Global enterprises and organizations with multiple locations have been sharing information and communication across distance for decades. Sure, there’s going to be a learning curve for leaders unfamiliar with managing a remote team, but that just means you have to be more intentional about clear and consistent communication.
4. They Jeopardize Security
When everyone is working from the office, IT security is easy. Everyone’s on the same network and using approved, company-provided devices. The castle is protected by a moat and a fire-breathing dragon. But when remote workers rely on their home networks and digital devices to communicate and collaborate, all of a sudden you’re worried that the dragon’s going to fall asleep — or in love with a talking donkey.
The good news is that there are security measures you can put in place to mitigate the risk of data breaches. Many of the cloud-based collaboration platforms in use today come with outsourced security from the software companies that produce them. And IT teams can implement two-factor authentication and VPN requirements for an added layer of security.
Sure, there are more factors to consider when it comes to remote security, but having remote employees and hybrid teams does not guarantee a breach.
The Truth About Remote Work
You don’t need a magic mirror to keep an eye on remote workers. You don’t need to purchase additional equipment or worry about a lack of communication. And you certainly don’t need to live in constant fear of a data breach.
A unified communication solution has presence indicators to let you know who’s online. Everyone can download the app to their mobile devices, giving them the ability to call, chat and meet with their teams from any location. These cloud-based solutions also come with built-in security.
Remote work is not a legendary tale, and remote workers are clearly not mythical characters. Any questions about productivity, special equipment, communication and security can be answered with the right potion of technology and strategy. If you have any questions, please feel free to send us a message and we’ll help you bust all the remote work myths. Business leaders may have to get creative, but remote workers are here to stay and worth the effort.