I’m doing smart working in a full remote company for a couple of years. These are the pros and cons based on my personal experience.
Let’s begin with what I don’t like and what I feel I’m missing from when I was working from the office, we’ll get into the positive aspects later.
This article is the script of the following video, you can watch it on YouTube:
Feeling alone 👎
I think we should immediately address the elephant in the room: am I feeling alone?
First of all, I’m quite a shy and introverted person and this probably helps me out on that, as long as I don’t isolate myself too much. Most of the time I enjoy either the silence in my room or listening to the music I like in the speakers and anyway I know that I can always reach out to my colleagues in case of need, or if I just to have a chat.
From what I’ve seen myself and heard from other people, the company’s culture is the game changer here. I’m currently in a full remote company, we do not have an office at all, which means everyone works from the place they like and every internal policy and process is designed for a distributed team.
To compare it to the previous company where due to Covid we were in a hybrid emergency situation, I actually felt more alone there. Isolated, to be precise. The worst part was when most of the team was in the office and it was my turn working from home. You know FOMO, fear of missing out, right? That’s what I felt. I was missing out on the conversations, the jokes, which I knew were taking place in the office. Even calling someone that was in the office felt a bit awkward, for example if the other colleagues were going on a coffee break, the one you called had to decide if stay on call with you or join the others and leave you alone. I also felt the same while being at the office in call with someone at home. It’s been quite uncomfortable.
Being 100% remote, on the other hand, means that everyone is in the same situation, I’m not missing anything and everyone is always happy to have a chat or a call.
Speaking of being alone, at some point you might want to disconnect entirely. I mean, even if the schedule is flexible, you’re not supposed to work 24/7 and no one wants you to do that.
When you associate work with being physically in the office, it’s easier to disconnect as you just… leave the office. You’re disconnected and everyone knows they’ll have to wait until tomorrow. When you work from home, it might not be that simple.
Is it a problem for me? First of all, I’m a notification person. I receive emails and Slack messages on my phone and I was like that even before working from home. That’s probably not a healthy habit, I should definitely work on that, but I have to say I have wonderful colleagues and clients that respect my time and don’t expect me to reply immediately. We all agree that a proper meaningful answer is way better than a quick and possibly incomplete one.
Once more, the culture of the people you’re working with is what makes smart and remote successful or not. If someone is expecting you to be immediately available at any time, it’s not on remote working but on that person in particular not being respectful of your time.
Less unexpected help 👎
Speaking of cooperation, I have to say it is true that it’s not as easy as in the office. A quick example, if you’re a junior developer you might benefit a lot from the senior colleague walking next to your desk and offering you for some help or advice.
In a remote environment, it is more up to you to be more proactive and ask for help if needed. Not being in person might indeed create some friction, but we also have to say that sending a Slack or Teams message shouldn’t be a big deal.
In any case, this is not necessarily a bad thing, as it helped me be even more independent, even if I have to admit I should probably ask for help more often as it could actually save me some time and produce better results.
Protected time during commute 👎
The last downside is tightly bound to the first pros on the list and I’m talking about the commute.
In my case I was going to work by train, half an hour on board and then 20 minutes walking to the office (to be precise, I was carrying an electric scooter with me, but that’s another story).
The thing is, that half an hour on the train was kind of enjoyable. You cannot skip that, you’re 30 minutes hostage on a chair, waiting, so it’s up to you if you want to entirely waste that time or do something meaningful with it.
So, I used to read books and this means almost on every work day I was reading for about an hour. This was also giving me some momentum to keep reading before going to sleep as well.
So, why is this on the downsides of working from home? I mean, no one stops me from protecting an hour a day to have some good read, but feels different. At home I have plenty of other activities I can do so I have to be much more intentional if I want to read. On the other side, while being stuck on the train, it was much easier and satisfying.
No more commute 👍
Buuut speaking of the train commute overall, I don’t miss it. At all. Here’s the list of Pros of working remotely I’ve experienced so far.
Using public transportation means having to deal with delays, cancellations, strikes, bad weather, and so on. And also, it takes time and money. I could probably save some time (but for sure not money) by going by car, but this would mean having to deal with traffic, parking, polluting the environment and so on.
Being able to work from wherever I want, which is usually at home for me, it is actually saving me so much time and money and has a great impact on my life quality too. Way less stressful.
Pick your company 👍
Besides, no longer requiring to physically be in the office, means I don’t need to take into consideration how far the office is located, or if an office exists at all.
Instead of being limited to the companies in a few kilometres radius from my home, I can carefully select and pick the company I like the most, even if it’s located on the other side of the world if I want to.
As of today I’m working for Claranet Italia, based in Italy as the name suggests, and the cool thing is that we’re all spread across the country, from the southmost region to the northmost region. I wouldn’t be able to work with all those amazing people if we had to be in the same place since we live in different cities.
I love my hometown and I’m happy I didn’t have to relocate when I changed job, but in case I want to move to another city for whatever reason, I don’t actually have to worry about finding a new job, I can just keep working for the same company.
Organize my time 👍
It is true that you need to be more intentional about your time, but it’s also true that you have much more freedom to organize it.
I can decide to wake up earlier and start working earlier, or I can decide to sleep a bit more and start working later, always according to the tasks and meetings I have on that day.
Taking breaks is also easier, I can decide to go for a walk or do some exercise, or even go to the supermarket while it’s not too crowded, as I can easily make up for that time later on during the day. While everyone is stuck in the checkout line buying their groceries at 6pm, I’m probably comfortably sitting on my chair doing some code reviews before going to prepare dinner.
This clashes with the difficulty of disconnecting, but at the cost of repeating myself a dozen times, working remotely requires a healthy company culture which respects your time and fosters your independence.
Doing smart work in a company not designed for that might give you a hard time disconnecting, instead, doing remote work in a company that embraces it, will give you much more freedom to organize your time. As always, it’s all about the right people.
If you’re working from home but your employer still requires you to clock in and clock out… you better find a new job.
Eat healthier 👍
Since I have the chance of buying some food outside the rush hours, I have a better selection of ingredients to cook my pasta for lunch every day.
Did I already mention I’m Italian? Lunch equals pasta for me and being at home means I can properly cook it every day. I don’t miss a single bite of that microwaved pasta I had to eat while in the office. Disgusting.
Enjoy the silence 👍
I briefly mentioned at the beginning of this article that being alone in the room has some advantages. One of them is that I can enjoy the silence during a debugging session or when I need to laser focus on a task.
If I want to listen to some music, I can do that as well without bothering anyone else and without headphones. I don’t really like headphones.
Oh and also, I can also decide the room temperature, which is often a war every day in the office between that one who’s always cold and the other one constantly sweating because of the heat… while being in the same room at the same temperature, sitting one next to the other.
Before stepping to conclusions, if you’re based in Italy and you’re looking for a remote job, my company is hiring! I’m sorry but due to legal requirements for now we can only hire in Italy.
🇮🇹 Qui di seguito un po’ di link:
Se sei interessato dagli pure un occhio e se hai domande, mi trovi su LinkedIn.
And this was MY personal experience with smart working so far. The conclusion is that as long as the environment is designed for that, you’re encouraged to be independent and you’re not missing out on anything, it’s a great way to work.
Flexible time and location, no commute, no distractions, no more microwaved pasta, what else could I ask for?
I’m curious to know what’s your experience with smart working, have you ever tried it? Do you like it? Do you think it’s a bad practice? Let me know in the comments below.
Thanks for watching, don’t forget to subscribe and see you next time!
Hello! My name is Leonardo and as you might have noticed, I like to talk about Web Development and Open Source!
I use GitHub every day and my favourite editor is Visual Studio Code... this might influence a little bit my conent! :D
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