Remote Team: Expectations vs. Reality

You’ve probably heard all about it – remote jobs are the future. Working with a remote team is a blessing and you’ll never want to return to an office ever again in your life. But is it really so? Here are some of the most common remote team expectations and what the reality is like – from a remote worker with 3 years spent working for various companies remotely.

Expectation: You’ll Work from a Beach in Bali

When you google “remote work“, you’ll see a lot of photos of people with their laptops in front of exotic beaches, looking like they’re working. After all, remote work is all about getting away from the office as far as possible, right?

The reality is that the vast majority of remote workers don’t set foot outside of their own home. There are various reasons for this, but the first one is practicality. Moving around a lot is no better than commuting for work, and most people prefer stability.

The second reason is the cost. While it’s attractive to wander exotic locations as you get work done, it’s anything but cheap. And once you factor in the hotels, flights, train and bus tickets, you lose all of the money saved by working remotely.

Ultimately, what you may find is a bunch of remote workers in a co-working hub or a coffee shop. It’s not as adventurous, but you’ll save a ton of money, and you’ll get to talk to some interesting people.

Expectation: Remote Work is Distracting

Imagine starting your work day, then the phone starts ringing, there’s a rerun of Sopranos on the TV, your neighbor wants to swing by for a coffee and the mailman is banging at the door at 10AM. How does anyone even work in such distracting conditions?

In reality, this is just as distracting as any other office environment. You can only be distracted as much as you allow it. Remote workers who perform at their best have dedicated work spaces and their distractions are set to a minimum.

Expectation: Team Culture is Impossible to Achieve

How do you build culture in a remote setting? One of the pre-requisites of establishing culture is having a team together, where employees get to know each other.

Reality – culture is harder to establish in remote teams, but it’s far from impossible. As shown by teams such as Zapier, Buffer, Trello and Toggl, culture is possible to achieve with a remote team. There’s only one condition – the team has to meet at least once per year. Every remote team with a strong culture meets together at least once annually to sit down, get to know each other and create memories to bond them together.

Expectation: Work will Be a Hectic Mess

For anyone jumping into remote from an office position, there’s lots of worry. What’s the work situation going to look like? How will I report to my managers? How will they know if I’m doing anything all day and can they check if I’m doing good work?

The reality is that this worry is unfounded. As remote work kicked off, managers and CEOs realized they needed a way to keep their remote employees accountable. Good remote companies have daily, weekly and monthly standups where employees report on what they’ve done and what they’re planning to do. With proper systems in place, no one will feel like their work is not being appreciated – or monitored.

Expectation: You’ll Barely Communicate with Anyone

What puts people off from working remotely is thinking they’ll spend the majority of their days in their home, without talking to anyone besides their pet. Indeed, lack of communication is one of the biggest drawbacks of remote work.

The reality is that you’ll get as much communication as you want – the decision is completely up to you. There’s a variety of text and video communication tools available to remote teams today and there are no obstacles to getting in touch. For example, I can always text my coworkers on Slack, call them on Zoom, send a message on Skype or have a group chat in Messenger. In reality, there is no face-to face communication, but all other communication forms are out there at your disposal.

Expectation: Remote Work is Easy to Find

With so many new remote positions popping up and data saying that large populations of US workers are working remotely in some fashion, you’re forced to believe that remote jobs are literally growing on trees.

Reality: remote work is not that easy to find. The reasons are multiple, but the primary one is that there is a lack of trust from employers. As people in company managements still believe that remote fosters a lack of productivity, there’s not as many companies willing to embark on the remote journey.

The second and equally difficult problem is the lack of remote job boards. If you’ve tried looking around for a remote job, you’ll find the same 50-100 ads posted on almost every remote job out there. As there’s not enough roles being posted, the majority of remote job boards simply syndicate ads instead of putting out something new.

On the other hand, traditional job boards are not suited to finding remote work. Many of them don’t even allow the remote field as a location and it takes a lot of effort to find a remote job position on them.


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