Work from home and remote work are as different as night and day, and there’s no need to bring the semantics into question. Too often people confuse the work from home with an ideology, when in fact it is just a temporary situation.
Even before the Coronavirus, some employees were given the possibility to work from home for a limited number of days per month. However, apart from the flexibility and time this benefit offers, the work stays the same. You still do what you would do in your office, at your desk, using the company’s laptop, VPN, and internal infrastructure.
The only difference now is that this temporary state of things has been prolonged longer than many of us had anticipated and that might have created several disruptions in how a company operates. We have discussed the transition from office work to working from home in our previous articles. You can revisit them here.
However, whatever the circumstances, working from homestays a “thing of the moment”. Yes, we might see some permanent transformations in the workforce, but people WILL go back to the office when the time is right.
“The Fuss” of Remote Work
First thing first, if you are a remote worker, you don’t have a lost chair, at a now-dusty desk, somewhere in a deserted office building. Your desk might be your lap, your kitchen counter, an airplane chair, or whatever. You decide.
When you work from home, you still have to log in and log out at a specific hour. You still use the laptop, VPN, and specific tools that your organisation has provided for you.
When you work remotely, you’re responsible for your time management, for your machine and technology.
Remote Work Requires a Completely Different Set of Tools and Skills
For a person working remotely, the calendar and agenda are crucial for starting their day. Productivity is a whole different concept, as well. Accountability is crucial also. When you manage your employees remotely, you know you are in charge of their working processes and environment, as a manager.
If you’re managing remote teams, you know that it’s up to the independent contractors on your team to set up a proper working environment and processes.
Remote work requires a self-starting attitude and some insane levels of time management. It also requires proactive communication and hyperfocus.
The simplest description is this.
Remote work is a whole different way of work and doing things, almost a philosophy, if you want. Work from home is a temporary situation or a change of scenery a company gives to you as a perk.
The mentality or mindset of a full-time remote worker, as opposed to a work-from-home employee,is completely different.
The Increasing Working From Home Loneliness
Since we’ve arrived at mindset, let’s take into consideration the loneliness issue. Many surveys suggest that people working from home love it most of the time, with a single exception: loneliness.
The “camaraderie” one finds in the office is on the top of the list of things that people are looking for when returning to the office. Normally, our reduced social interactions outside the home have also contributed to this emotional state.
Moreover, leading a remote team might not be such a “lovely job” if done remotely, especially if the manager is a person who gets affirmation from having his team around. If we go a little bit deeper, we will uncover another emotional aspect of the work from home: the need to feel valued.
It is a lot harder to get that feeling througha Zoom call, no pat on the shoulder, no handshake, no looking-into-the eyes, no nothing of that personal touch. For those employees who were thriving on this, work from home might feel like a barren experience, and they might never know why.
Remote workers also need that feeling of being valued, of course. They’re not robots, but their different mindset allows them to experience it differently, in a way that is more in line with the remote, volatile, agile, always-on-the-move working environment of their day.
Everything that the office offered, the connection, the routine, the sense of purpose, the workspace, remote workers had to build themselves. You can see how that leads to a different skillset altogether, right?
We’re not trying to make a point of what and who’s better. No, our point is simple. Firstly, do not make the error of mistaking working from home for remote work. Secondly, it might not be a good idea to ask your people working from home to do everything that a remote worker can. Not everyone is cut out for remote work, and that is why there is always the solution of independent contractors.