Yes, Remote Workers Actually Work
Updated: Aug 10, 2021
"If I worked from home, I would never get anything done."
I can't count how many people have said that to me over the last 20 years that I've been writing novels and working from home. And now that I've launched my digital nomad journey and I'm writing from the Caribbean, people keep saying, "I wouldn't be able to concentrate with the sea right outside my window." Here's the thing about remote work: we have to work or we don't get paid. So, we work. It's that simple. And for me, working in my own space is so much easier and far more productive than working in an office. Around a decade ago, I was unable to find enough remote writing work, so I took an onsite Sr. Instructional Designer position. For 10 months, I commuted 45 minutes each way and sat in a cubicle that was so cold I wore a puffy coat at my desk. People chatted endlessly over cubicle walls. Years of being an Instructional Designer had taught me about Cognitive Load Theory, but nothing proved the split attention effect more vividly than trying to write while people all around me talked. I started wearing earplugs so I could concentrate. When that didn't work, I booked conference rooms and hid there in my puffy coat and earplugs and closed the door so I could actually think. Considering the constant interruption, noise, and temperature discomfort, I started to track how long it would take me to get things done in the office versus how long it would take me to do the same work at home, in the quiet, without a puffy coat and earplugs.
It took eight hours of office time for me to complete four hours of at home work. So, not only was I really uncomfortable, I was less productive. There's a fallacy that people who work from home don't actually work, but I've found the opposite to be true. I work faster, more efficiently, and more comfortably at home than I ever could in an office. The pandemic forced a lot of companies that may never have considered going remote to do so. It's been fascinating to help clients navigate and manage remote, and now blended, workforces and think about training and development in new and different ways. Some of my friends have gone back to the office and they're thankful for the sense of teamwork and ability to coach face to face. Other friends are dreading impending commutes and constant interruptions. Other friends will now work remote permanently. As I continue to do instructional design work, write my new novel, and query agents with my book club fiction, ALL THE MOMENTS IN BETWEEN, I wonder, what about you? Do you prefer working remote or onsite? And why?