4 Dangers of Working Remotely

Project manager Rich Winterstetter supports the WordPress agency Inpsyde.
We already wrote about the benefits of working remotely. But there are some dangers, too. In this post we're going to describe them and how to become rid of them.

As agency we work remotely completely, our employees are spread all over the world and we only meet in case we’re on WordCamps at the same time. If you talk with others about remote work, it looks as if there were only benefits. However, there are also some dangers of working remotely which Inpsyder Jessie is going to describe in the Advent Calendar post number 3.

Working whenever you want wherever you want gives the freedom to combine private life and work. For many, that’s a dream. For some (and for us) it’s already reality. However, today’s working routine and many reports about the digitization of work show that the future of work is closely connected to working remotely, or home office (you may call it as you want, in the end, it’s the same: Work for an employer at a place you choose at a time you (mostly) choose.). Of course, there are also many surveys about work-life balance, and about the benefits as well as the dangers of future work.

However, this blog post shall not be a list of collected surveys with their new insights. Instead, and because I already wrote about the benefits of working remotely – I want to point out the dangers of working remotely.

4 Dangers of Working Remotely

In the following, I will describe 4 dangers of working remotely. They point out my experience connected with working remotely. However, I think that they can be transferred to other working models like home office, where you stay at home for a few days a week.

1. Working too long

I recognized it when I started at Inpsyde, and I heard it from other new Inpsyders: During the first days and week working remotely, some get the feeling they need to work all the time. They already get a guilty conscience when they go to the toilet. And simply because they don’t sit near their laptops and work productively but are in their private bathrooms (to stay by example).

In my opinion, this is due to the feeling of having to compensate their non-presence in an office. Suddenly, you no longer allow yourself the short coffee breaks that you usually have in the office and that help you to sort out your own thoughts.

Because they can be reached at all times when working remotely, some people spend considerably more time on their laptops – possibly because they feel that it “has to be that way”. Or because they are afraid that their own work will not be noticed if everyone in the team can always work.

My tip: Reminding yourself again and again to take short pauses for reflection. After work, turn off your laptop and make sure that the communication channels are switched off. And of course: Create a structured work plan that you stick to – banal, but effective.

2. Communication

I see two dangers here: On the one hand, too little communication, on the other hand too much communication.

Let’s start with “too little communication”: In my opinion, this danger exists mostly when you work with others on tasks or pass on tasks. Because this is done primarily in writing (in issues, slack messages, e-mails) – so that the task exists visually for everyone – an unclear wording can lead to misunderstandings and additional work.

On the other hand, too much communication distracts from the actual work. Video conferencing, where clear tasks are discussed again or short calls to find out the status of a task, but also written discussions, which would be solved faster by video conferencing – all this is “too much” communication on the wrong channel.

So here’s my tip: When describing and submitting tasks, make sure that you formulated clearly. It is best if the author reads the message again and reflects on whether the formulated task is so clear that it can be executed immediately without further questions.

Moreover, you should always think about whether you use the right channel to pass on your message.

Finally, when working remotely, it is even more important than in the office to pay attention to the appropriate “how” of communication. It happens mostly through incorrect formulations in chats or video conferences that messages are received incorrectly. And it’s simply because you are not facing each other and thus non-verbal communication simply does not take place (which is actually where most communication takes place).

3. Distraction

Distraction, that’s a thing. Colleagues can get you out of your workflow with their questions. Or you can distract yourself by looking “just quickly” at something else. These are both things that keep you away from your work in the office, too.

Doch beim Remote Arbeiten ist die Selbstdisziplin eines jeden Menschen viel mehr gefragt. Wenn, die remote arbeitenden Menschen von zuhause statt von einem Co-Working-Space arbeiten, dann erst recht. Denn in der privaten Umgebung lauern viel mehr Ablenkungsmöglichkeiten. (Auch wenn es nur die Schmutzwäsche oder die Spinnweben an der Decke sind, die unbedingt beseitigt werden wollen.)

But when working remotely, you need much more self-discipline. Even more if remote working people work from home rather than from a co-working space. Because in the private environment, there are much more distraction possibilities. (Even if it is only the dirty laundry or the cobwebs on the ceiling that you absolutely need remove.)

My tip: Structure! Recognize when your concentration phases are and act accordingly. I know from myself that I can concentrate very well for about 45 minutes at a time. So when I start a task, I ignore everything that could distract me (best example: slack messages) and simply work. Everything else just has to wait until my concentration phase is over and I need a short break. Then I read the news, and get myself a coffee. Afterwards, I find my way back into the task or start with a new one.

4. IT Security and technical requirements

This is a last and also a short point. Nevertheless, IT security is an important factor when working remotely. It simply has to be there. Otherwise both the company and the employees will have big problems in the worst case.

My tip: Be nice to the data protection officers 😀 . Employees and the company (i.e. the respective data protection officer) should check again and again whether the used tools, their own software and the processes comply with data protection regulations and are secure.

How do you feel about the mentioned dangers of working remotely? Can you think of any other dangers? I am looking forward to your feedback!


* Many thanks to Slava Keyzman for the photo we are using in this blogpost header.