“Wow, your job must be really easy.”
“Oh, you work from home, so your job isn’t that important.”
“Are you actually productive? I bet you don’t get any work done.”
If you work remotely, these statements probably sound familiar to you. The reality couldn’t be further from the truth. Today, working remotely is a valuable ability. It’s not a situation that suits everyone, and not everyone is able to do it. It takes time management and lots of discipline.
In the modern world, businesses need to keep up with the growing number of people who do not want to sit in a cubicle under fluorescent lighting for eight hours a day. It shouldn’t come as a shock to learn that this isn’t an ideal work environment for most people. If a company allows you the flexibility to work from home, consider yourself fortunate. They are providing you with an opportunity to gain the skill of working remotely.
A skill? Maybe you think of working from home as an opportunity to sleep in and not have to get ready for the day. While you’re not wrong, it is so much more than that.
I once thought that when my manager allowed me to work from home that it must be a slow day, or an easy day, or because they felt sorry for working me so much during the week. It wasn’t until my current job that I learned the value of working from home. It’s now my day to catch up on emails because I’m not in back-to-back meetings all day. It’s my day to laser-focus on that project I need to finish. And the truth is, on most of the days I work from home, I am more productive than if I were working in an office. The fact that I’m “sweatpants hair tie chillin’ with no makeup on” is just an added bonus.
It wasn’t until recently that I’ve learned the true understanding of the phrase, “work smarter, not harder.” It’s a philosophy I’ve heard many companies preach, but not practice. My current manager has a great saying: it doesn’t matter where or when you get your work done, as long as it gets done on time. Shouldn’t that be the most important part anyway? If you produce quality work at 6 o’clock in the morning, you should be able to start work then and shut down early that day. Our productivity and creativity should not be penalized by society’s predetermined 9-to-5 workday.
When you stumble upon a company or manager who embraces this message, it can be a game changer in your career. You are able to learn when, where, and how you work best.. Maybe that means early mornings in the office, or maybe it’s late nights in a coffee shop. We are all hired based on our skills and qualifications, so why not be allowed to work when and where those qualities are best highlighted and exercised?
I believe that more businesses and people will be working remotely as technology and society evolve, so learning this skill now will keep you ahead of the curve. It may sound like a luxury, but I bet there are a lot of people who wouldn’t be able to focus on the report that’s due Friday if their TV is only a few feet away. So next time you meet someone who has the opportunity to work from home, don’t think they’re unimportant or not a valued asset to a company. They are just like you. They work just as hard, if not harder. They work just as many hours, if not more. The only difference is they can turn off their computer on a Friday afternoon and pour themselves a glass of wine instead of sitting in traffic.