HR Insights 5 min

Biggest Misconceptions of Remote Work Debunked Using Data

October 18, 2018

Remote work is growing in popularity, and for good reason. After all, remote work benefits both the worker and the employers—and there’s a ton of hard grit data to support that.

That said, there’s a ton of mis-information around remote work (mainly from backward parties that resist change).

Now, I’ve had some big concerns myself, but after finally taking the leap, I’ve come to realize remote work has a ton of perks.

So in this article, I’ll talk about 5 huge myths about remote work, provide some statistics proving otherwise, and some actionable steps you can take to prevent any problems.

Myth #1: Remote Workers Earn Less Dough

This myth is a biggie in the remote work world— people think that just because remote workers work from home, companies don’t need to pay them enough.

So if you’re an aspiring telecommuter and want to work remotely, I’m here to tell you that remote workers can be paid a pretty hefty penny.

Let’s get down to the facts.

On average, remote workers earn $4,000 more per year than in-office employees. Employees spend more on remote workers because they provide tons of value to the company.

In fact, remote workers are often more beneficial to companies than in-office workers (we’ll cover that in myth #2).

And many top earners, or workers who earn over $100,000 a year, are remote workers. They are even 2.2x more likely to earn six figures than people who work in the office.

That means companies value remote workers high enough to pay them top dollar.

On top of earning more, remote workers save more dough, too. No more riding the bus, driving to work, or spending all that time dressing up all fancy. Experts estimate that average American remote workers save $2,600 a year from transportation costs alone.

Actionable Steps:

  • Move to a lower cost of living area. If you want to save even more cash, you can leverage your remote position by living in a cheap country! If you have family or property responsibilities, then it’ll be a bit harder but still not impossible.
  • Find a good remote company to work for. Finding a high-paying company that respects its workers isn’t too difficult. But it’s important to avoid the cheap companies that don’t recognize the value remote workers can bring.

Myth #2: There Aren’t Enough Jobs For Remote Workers

Some people might think that there just aren’t enough jobs out there— most companies are traditional and aren’t open to this “new” working lifestyle. Or perhaps all the remote jobs are in specific fields like programming, coding, or IT— and not just anyone can do those things.

But the data suggests otherwise. Nowadays, 4.7 million people work remotely at least half the time (approximately 3.4% of the workforce). And every year, the number is only increasing. Take a look at this graph which highlights just how much remote work is growing.

And every year, more and more remote jobs are opening. This remote work “trend” will only continue— it’s not going to disappear anytime soon.

If you jump on the remote work bandwagon, you won’t necessarily have to work in a super technical field. It turns out the industries that have the most remote workers are:

  • Healthcare, taking up 15% of total remote jobs
  • Technology and internet, coming in at 10%
  • Financial services, at 9%
  • Education, with 8% of remote jobs
  • Manufacturing, totaling 7%

From jobs like copywriting, English teaching, virtual assisting, digital marketing, and project management (to name a few), there are a ton of job opportunities in virtually every field you can think of.

And with an abundance mindset, you’ll gain that confidence to take that remote work leap (if you haven’t already).

Actionable Steps:

  • Search for jobs on a remote job board. Sites like We Work Remotely and co offer job boards specifically for people looking to find remote work employment. Search hundreds or even thousands of jobs from companies looking to find remote workers.
  • Ask your company to go remote. If you’ve been in a traditional office role for long, why not ask your manager or boss? The fact is many jobs can be done away from the office. You can start by asking for a day or two off a week, and then slowly ramp it to full-time remote work if your company will allow it.

Myth #3: Remote Workers Are Introverted and Lonely

You may be thinking of a typical remote worker as someone who holes him/herself up in a room all day, staring at the computer screen.

And you may be half right.

And unlike office workers, who can just pop into each other’s cubicle and chat about last night’s football game, remote workers don’t have an office environment. There’s no social circle you can derive from your work environment.

But let’s take at a look at the truth: one Gallup poll showed that remote workers feel more connected to their remote teams than in-office employees do with their coworkers.

In fact, remote workers are 29% more happy than on-site workers. Why is this? Because remote workers aren’t forced to hang out with coworkers they don’t like. And they don’t have a boss or manager breathing down their neck (unless you’re really unlucky…).

It’s the freedom, yo.

And in a study of 450 remote workers, only 28% described themselves as introverted while 34% self-described as extroverts. You don’t have to be an introvert to love the work-at-home lifestyle.

Remote workers can choose their own group of friends to hang out with, or just chill with family and friends whenever they feel the need for social interaction.

Actionable Steps:

  • Take a personality test. Try the 16personalities test to gauge your level of extroverted-ness. If you’re really extroverted and need to be around people constantly, remote work may not be for you.
  • Work in a social environment. Try working at coffee shops, libraries, or coworking spaces. Being around people will help combat the feeling of isolation that remote workers may face.

Myth #4: Remote Workers Are Less Productive

It’s easy to imagine remote workers idling on their laptops, sipping coconuts on the beach, and starting their blog about how they’re living that #digitalnomad life..

And it’s easy to see why— there’s nobody breathing down their backs or watching them get work done. But are remote workers really less productive?

A study by the Harvard Business Review proves that some companies saw worker productivity increase by 13.5% after allowing their employees to go remote. By cutting off the office ‘fluff,’ remote workers have fewer distractions to contend with.

And really, the office is a big problem. There has been a 16% increase in the number of workers who say their office environments hurt their ability to concentrate. It’s no surprise, remote workers are 20-25 percent more productive than their office colleagues.

Perhaps the drop in productivity comes from office pranks and jokes. Or maybe… the dreaded office politics.

Remote workers usually aren’t lazy, either. Remote workers tend to put in six to seven more hours per week than people who work in the office. Their retention rates increase too, which means remote workers are much happier to be working than in-office employees.

Actionable Steps:

Myth #5: It’s Hard to Keep in Touch With Remote Workers

Remote workers aren’t in the office— they can be at dancing away at a party when they’re “supposed” to be working and you won’t even know it. Or they may even be halfway across the world, making things difficult to communicate during the same time.

But this is completely false— if a company knows how to manage its remote team, communication is the least of its concerns.

In a survey of remote workers, a whopping 52% reported having contact with their manager at least once per day, while 34% of other workers reported interacting with managers at least once a week.

In this modern era, it’s never been easier to communicate with remote workers. Centralized software and programs allow information to be known throughout the company, no matter a worker’s location.

If you’re concerned about communication, make it a #1 priority.

Actionable Steps:

  • Use team communication tools to communicate frequently. Take advantage of tools like Slack, Trello, and Skype to message and host video conferences with team members and managers. Remember, good communication doesn’t only apply to relationships.
  • Have a clear idea of expectations. Knowing when to have meetings, how long to respond to emails, what calls to take, etc. is key to great communication.

Remote Work is Here to Stay

There’s simply no better work than working remotely. And because it’s a new kind of work, people may have all sorts of misconceptions about it.

As Alex Ohanian, co-founder of Reddit, says, “remote work is the future of work.” And as more and more people work remotely, the myths will end up becoming falsities, something that people in the traditional era once believed but no longer do so.

Are you part of the remote work movement? If not, why not become a freelancer or even become an entrepreneur. Because there’s no better time to start than now.

Mark Quadros is a freelance content marketer who helps SaaS and online-business develop content that
not only drives traffic but also boosts user-engagement. In his free time, he loves traveling the world
and living a minimalist life from his backpack. Learn more about Mark here.

Guest Blogger