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The Pros and Cons of Working Remotely

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Wouldn’t it be great to work from home? How about a cozy café?

What if you had total freedom to choose where to work? Doesn’t that sound like a breath of fresh air?

I can give some insight on that as a Spreaker teammate, where remote-working, or telecommuting, is the mot du jour. In the past year, I’ve encountered remote working’s both pros and cons head on, with some aspects of this working style being totally surprising.

In case you didn’t know, Spreaker’s team is scattered across the globe, mainly in Europe (Spain, Italy, Germany, and Lithuania), as well as the United States (Seattle). Some of us work in co-working spaces, or shared offices, with others preferring the comfort of their own homes. Personally, I work in a co-working space in Berlin.

retoque SPREAKER-6

The team has almost always worked with this way, save for a few short stints in shared offices. In the years that I’ve worked for the company I’ve had time to settle my thoughts on what it means to telecommute. Here’s my take, starting with the cons:

Cons:

No more talking!

Never underestimate the power of idle chatting with your co-workers, it’s what big ideas are made of. It can lead to unexpected brainstorming and breakthroughs that could be effective for your company –  hence the popularity of open-plan offices. Remote working doesn’t always allow for it, as you’ll probably think twice before messaging your manager with your thoughts on that day’s pop culture news than if she were right there next to you.

Loneliness 🙁

This goes without saying, but remote working means going at it alone, and if you’re not a self-starter by nature, getting yourself motivated will feel like a total chore.

Time zones

Scheduling a call with a podcaster in LA can prove unnecessarily difficult when you’re based in Berlin – it’s a 9 hour difference that allows for a small window of time, and needs extra planning. You’ll find yourself on the phone at odd hours, sometimes way past bedtime.

Technical difficulties

Keeping in touch via Skype or Google Hangouts is easy and great…until it’s not. If your space’s internet connection is fickle or prone to glitches, you’ll find yourself wasting time staring at black screen with your “Hello?”’s echoing into the abyss.

Of course, in the end, I love working remotely, and these pros blow the cons out of the water:

Pros:

Live anywhere you want 

If you “suffer” from wanderlust like I do, then you’ll love the opportunity to be able to escape to anywhere you’d like for a week, a month, or more without having to sacrifice your holiday time or hours.

Choose the working space that works for you

Remote working usually conjures up the idea of being holed up at home in your PJs all day, but it doesn’t have to be. You can certainly work from home if that’s what works for you, but if you prefer getting out of the house there are lots of options, like cafés of libraries. If you prefer the order of an office (like I do), co-working spaces are just the ticket (we happen to love WCap and Talent Garden).

You manage you

That’s not to say that you can do whatever you want, whenever you want, but you can keep your weird but effective work habits alive and well. The day is yours to plan, and you can do it blasting music as loudly as you want with no one to say otherwise.

Less distractions

I had mentioned the loss of office chit-chat and its benefits above, but let’s also not kid ourselves – it can be distracting and keep you from completing your tasks. You can have total peace in your own space, no matter where you choose to be.

And that’s just the beginning of the benefits of remote working. Others include less stress at the workplace and the death of commuting. Some of the most popular reasons to try it out can be found here.

Of course, the success of remote working comes down to good planning and organization. Here’s a breakdown of Spreaker’s own process:

Apps like Slack and Google Hangouts have been a godsend to keeping the communication open. The development team has been able to manage their work successfully with Trello, and the marketing side with social media managing apps like Buffer. Two weekly meetings are also held every Monday and Friday with the whole company, where we go over the goals of the week and report our progress.

We do what we can to get together, too, to work in groups of 2 or more when we can, traveling to each other’s cities. A great example of that are our yearly Spreaker retreats, where we focus not only on company growth, but on our relationships to each other as a team as well. 

Overall, it’s a rewarding experience. Motivation and enthusiasm are musts when it comes to telecommuting, and it’s refreshing to find yourself in a team that encompasses those traits and could pull off this still new way of working together. I couldn’t have asked for better.

But what do you think? With all those pros and cons listed above, do you think that remote working is something your company could pull off, or work with? Let us know!

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8 Comments
  • Ezequiel Dec 10,2016 at 8:55 pm

    when will you be hiring again?

  • Edward Carbajal May 16,2016 at 10:32 pm

    I see no cons. Are you hiring?

    • Chiara May 24,2016 at 3:16 pm

      Ahah! Hi Edward, thanks! But we’re not hiring, at the moment 😉

  • Kevin Field Mar 14,2016 at 9:27 pm

    Thanks for sharing. My experience of remote working has been varied. It can be difficult to work from home – too much distraction when people are around. Sometimes, I do prefer a shared space with other likeminded organisations. The Bath Tub in Bethnal Green London is pretty good.

    I must admit the loneliness of solo-prenuer can be fairly limiting, even if it presents the vaue of just being able to get on.

    That’s why my work is often quite varied – online and offline, where working with people is a design of life-work balance – to stop me going stir crazy.

    I think we need interaction on a human level. Without it I think you can loose perspective and as you mentioned in your article it is important for the creative process to have that interaction. Perhaps why I love networking at a conference or meet ups.

    • Anna Mar 15,2016 at 4:31 pm

      The Bath Tub looks cool! I love my co-working space, myself; we may not work together but there’s a real sense of camaraderie – it’s a great way to get a fresh set of eyes or ears to look something over and give an outsider’s take.

  • Alex Exum Mar 14,2016 at 8:55 pm

    GREAT blog post! This inspired my next podcast! This really spoke to me since I work from home full time. I must admit, it is not for people who are ‘lonely’ and need daily human interaction; Most of my daily work is via phone, email, Instant Message, and Web-Conferencing, so you rarely see a human face.

    BUT on the up side, once you work from home, it’s hard to go back to commuting to a office in traffic, constant distractions from co-workers, and not having a flexible schedule. I also save a ton of money on gas and lunches by eating at home, it’s was like a little raise.

    I honestly believe that MOST (not all) work HARDER from home, than in an office. I know I get more done without the distractions, and you even go the ‘extra mile’ to make sure your boss doesn’t think you are goofing off on the clock.

    Oh, and one trick, I suggest wearing ‘work’ clothing while at home; You don’t sound as professional on the phone when wearing a bathrobe or your pajamas, it comes thru in your voice 🙂

    All the best.

    • Anna Mar 15,2016 at 4:34 pm

      I totally agree – once you go remote it’s hard to imagine switching back to a more traditional setting.

      And definitely – you do go the extra mile to make sure the communication is fluid and that goals are being met.

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