8 Remote Work Misconceptions (From Remote Workers, Nonetheless)

I asked about 100 people who either work remotely or in a hybrid environment, “What is the best day of the week to work from home?” (I wrote the article in that link about the results.)

So many people are working for hybrid-work companies right now, I wanted to know how people structure their weeks. But I learned a lot more about how people are misperceiving remote work in general. 

The following are real quotes from people grouped into categories of misconceptions. I add my commentary to each to highlight why I think people are viewing this whole remote work thing incorrectly.

Remote work misconceptions (quotes from real people)

Misconception #1: Work-from-home days are like the weekend

People are still stuck thinking that work happens at the office and life happens at home. If you work remotely, this requires a mental shift. No more do you go to the office to earn weekend days. Work needs to be done well wherever and whenever suits you. If it’s done well, you’ll have plenty of time off for rest and non-work things. Being at home does not mean it’s the weekend–your location no longer has a correlation with your work.

“I consider the days I’m working from home to be just as good as the weekend.”

“WFH days scheduled on Wednesdays rather than Mondays or Fridays keeps employees from thinking of them as fake three-day weekends.

“The temptation is to make Monday or Friday your flex day to have the feeling of a three-day weekend.  However, it is too easy to begin to treat it as a day off rather than a work day.

Misconception #2: Time is the measure of productivity, not output

During the Industrial Revolution, people came into factories to produce physical things that required a standard amount of time. Time was the input with a linear tie to output. Then, Henry Ford popularized the five-day work week to maximize productivity without overworking employees. Then… we’ve all been working the exact same way for a century since.

The problem is that many jobs that can be done remotely do not have the tight relationship between time and output. You could be very focused and engaged for two hours and get more done than a typical eight-hour day.

Stop thinking about time as the measure of your work. That is a holdover from the assembly line (when time = work) and the office (when time at desk = work).

“I recommend working from home on Thursday instead of Friday to reduce any temptation of ducking out a little early for the weekend.

“WFH on Mondays and Fridays may give employees the idea that they have a three-day weekend, which may greatly affect their productivity level.”

Misconception #3: Accountability only happens in the office

People still rely on the idea of a physical office for accountability even in a remote setting, which is wrong. The misconception here is that people can work from home and then “report in” to the office to show what they did. It’s like a teacher assigning homework, except we don’t have homework and we don’t have teachers.

Showing your work to a boss in person doesn’t actually equate to good work. Good work does. Good work can be done anywhere.

“WFH Wednesday is still a workday, and the fact that employees must return to work on Thursday enforces accountability.

“Working from home on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday will ensure that employees have uninterrupted accountability for the week because they will need to go to work on the following weekday.”

“…it ensures accountability as employees need to report back to the office on Thursday.”

Misconception #4: Meetings need to take place in person

If your preference is to have meetings in person, that’s fine. I’d argue it’s not worth the wasted time of commuting and travel to service the in-person meeting, but it’s still fine. The misconception is that meetings need to take place in person. Ask anyone who works for a fully remote company with no physical office and they’ll tell you they are running just fine with virtual meetings.

“Important meetings require a physical presence.

“Many new tasks will come in on Monday. It is important to sort and discuss the week’s workload with colleagues in person.”

“You need to make time for in-person meetings or team calls to ensure everyone’s on the same page.”

Misconception #5: Remote work disrupts the flow of the business

People think that work can be done from home in batches or until the tasks that can be done anywhere are drained. Then, it’s time to go back into the office for more work.

A “flow of work” can be built virtually just as easily (or more easily) than in person.

“I found that working from home on Wednesday allows you to enjoy the benefits of working from home without disrupting the overall flow of work.”

“Many new tasks will come in on Monday. It is important to sort and discuss the week’s workload with colleagues in person.”

Misconception #6: Employees are not “supervised” at home

This is probably a misconception about work in general. Essentially, many people still think the only way to get work done is to have other people (bosses) make sure you do your work.

A well-run company has clear objectives for each role. If those aren’t getting done, the person can no longer retain his or her job. A “supervisor” looking over a shoulder isn’t required at a well-run company.

“As employees are not supervised when working from home, there is a tendency to be easily distracted.

Misconception #7: “Work” and “office” are used interchangeably

This is like using “eat” and “restaurant” interchangeably. Much like how you can eat at home, you can also work from home. The location is independent from the job.

If you run a remote company, it’s important to stop using work and office as synonyms.

“WFH Wednesday is still a workday, and the fact that employees must return to work on Thursday enforces accountability.”

“Working from home on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday will ensure that employees have uninterrupted accountability for the week because they will need to go to work on the following weekday.”

What other misconceptions have you heard about remote work? I’d like to hear a few good ones in the comments below.

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