Research studies regarding remote work, aka working from home, have gotten an influx of data in recent years as large groups of people were shifted (temporarily or permanently) to remote work thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. Some employees have embraced remote work with open arms while others have said they prefer working from the office. For most companies the decision is made by top level executives and then the employees follow whatever plan is refined into company policy. This influx of data has enabled experts and management consultants to dispel some common remote work myths debunked.
- “Remote work minimizes creativity and innovation.” The general consensus on this myth is false. Those who say it is true contend that without everyone being in the same physical environment then extraneous communication and interactions, from which creativity and innovation are born, are lost. While this is technically true, they are many others who point out that typically employees only run into the same employees over and over again, whereas working remotely enables employees to communicate (via instant message) with all other employees who are online at the same time. In-person power dynamics that potentially limit creativity and innovation are also negated when working remotely.
- “It’s more difficult to collaborate remotely than in person.” The general consensus on this myth is true but experts say the ground is shifting as more and better technologies are allowing people to mimic in-person interactions (while remote) ever more closely. This topic is frequently brought up when a new person joins a team and needs to undergo a testing or training period and managers will just go with “what works”, aka coming into the office for such training or testing. Video conferencing, for example, has been around for years but in recent years advances in hardware, software, and Internet speed have enabled the experience to be increasingly more reliable and effective.
- “Employees can’t foster meaningful connections remotely.” The general consensus on this myth is false. Those who would rate this myth as true point out that connecting in-person has a special element that is lost when communicating in separate geographic locations. While this is true, those who rate this myth as false point out that at most workplaces it’s not like employees can spend much, or sometimes any, time fostering connections that aren’t immediately related to ongoing job duties anyway. The workplace is called the workplace after all. When working remotely, it is much easier to call or instant message Joe from accounting to ask how his son’s baseball game went over the weekend (for example), during an off-peak/appropriate point of time of course. You don’t have to walk over to his desk and you don’t have to worry about your boss staring over your shoulder.