Working remotely is not working from home

Written on February 15, 2018

Remote workers often work from their own living space, but that doesn’t mean they “work from home”. Not in the classic sense used in office-based cultures, anyhow.

A problematic term

The classic understanding of “working from home” exists in direct opposition to working from the office. It simultaneously represents privilege, and a potential threat to established norms and working structures.

The result? The term comes loaded with a ton of negative connotations. It’s suspect, unmonitored and flouts the rules. Those who are “allowed” to do it are resented, and those who aren’t struggle to understand why it’s necessary. Many companies are tight-fisted with flexible work, seemingly granting it exclusively to senior staff and entitled assholes. Invisibility also breeds suspicion – What are they actually up to? – to the point where “working from home” has become shorthand for “slacking off”.

The realities of remote work

Working remotely is not dramatically different from working in an office. You actually drop the novelty of being in a comfy, familiar place pretty quickly. Even though you might mix up where you work day-to-day, you get used to locking your focus and structuring your own space wherever you go. The fanciful idea of working in a café is very different to actually working in a café (namely, you are still working).

So no, working remotely is not “working from home”. Remote workers are held to the exact same standards and contractual obligations as their office counterparts. We may communicate using digital tools instead of to your warm living human face, but we still communicate. We plan, we coordinate, we chat. We may not be available for informal gossip in the breakroom, but we see that as a positive.

At Timely, remote workers are just as available to support each other as if we were all physically sitting together. We all feel successes, help build new solutions and put in 8 hours of quality work every day – just like our office-based colleagues in Oslo. The only real difference is where we sit with our laptops.

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