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Productivity Expectations vs Reality while Working Remotely

Прочети на Български ==> Read in English (US)

In this post, we are going to explore the productivity expectations vs reality in the context of remote work and what happens when you actually start working afar.

As access to the Internet is spreading in more locations and becoming affordable, work-from-home possibilities have become pretty natural. The so-called "online jobs" are on the rise.

productivity expectations vs reality

And for a good reason. Flexibility, convenience, and more free time are tempting and highly sought after by potential workers. No wonder the best online offers have a lot of competition.

As people become increasingly interested in such a lifestyle, the need for a reality check arises. Questions about remote work pop up once you begin living and working in a home office.

Are work-from-home jobs what we expect them to be? Is it all so glamorous and effortless as in those advertisements of young girls and boys working from anywhere around the world?

In this article, I'd like to share the positive and not-so-positive sides of being a remote worker through the eyes of someone working from home for the past eight years.

Expectation #1: Increased Productivity

One of the advantages that remote jobs offer is the productivity level. Working in an office comes in a package: your colleagues asking questions and your manager checking on you.

These are distractions that you can't avoid in an office environment. It is expected that when you reduce the noise and perform your job from a quiet and comfortable place, such as your couch, productivity will get better.

Reality of Remote Work Productivity

While it is true that there will be no distractions from the office, it doesn't mean that you will have the luxury of a quiet space to work in. Home offers the safety of a known environment but might also be a source of multiple noises.

If you live with other people, you will hear your family members doing housework or talking between themselves. Outside noises like baby crying, construction work, etc., can also take away your focus from you, especially if the inside is very quiet and the contrast is significant.

Expectation #2: Flexibility

Flexibility is one of the main reasons why people choose to work online. They expect to have the option to work whenever they want to, from wherever they want to, and organize their time according to their preferences.

Reality of Flexibility while Working Remotely

Being flexible in your job is excellent, but unfortunately, it doesn't come with all remote positions, not to the extent we desire before we land the job.
Here is a practical example:

I was working in a company that had the following rules for all participants in the project: work from within the country you reside in and from a private place (no coffee shops, crowded areas, etc.).

This automatically means reduced flexibility - you cannot travel abroad and work simultaneously. Indeed, you can have holidays in a different country, but nobody will pay you for that. In terms of work, it means lost hours and money.

If you want to work from the local cafeteria, you must first check whether this is appropriate for your company. If you signed a NDA (Non-Disclosure Agreement), you will not be able to work at places where people will have the chance to see your screen.

Expectation #3: Reduced Expenses

When you work from home, you can save on many things. You no longer need to buy food in restaurants or fast food on your lunch break. Instead, you can cook the meals at home. You will enjoy benefits like a reduced amount of money spent on transportation.

Having representative clothes or suits to go to work is no longer necessary. These are all main expenses strongly tied to office jobs.

Reality of Home Job Expenses

Reducing many of the types of expenses doesn't mean that others will remain the same. While all these expectations are accurate (clothes, transportation, meals), other costs replace them. These are equipment, an Internet connection, and any devices you need (e.g., a headset).

Since you will be spending most of your time at home working, you should also expect an increase in utility bills (I bet you still need to consider that!). It's also important to note that if you want to be productive and efficient in your work, you must invest in a quality laptop.

Expectation #4: Freedom

When they start working from home, many expect it to be a fun, exciting, liberating, and adventurous experience. The way to travel around the world with your laptop if you want to and enjoy life for its beauty.

Reality of Freedom in Remote Jobs

Nobody is entirely free. Yes, working from home is liberating. It is flexible. It is a dream. But at the end of the day, it is still "work".

That means you will still need to deal with concentration issues, deadlines, the amount of work required, etc. Freedom is the reality, but only up to a certain extent.

Expectation #5: Better Work-Life Balance

Remote work is the end of asking for time off to attend a specific event or take care of your assignments. No need to make appointments upfront and adjust them according to your schedule.

It's the other way around now. Your schedule gets adjusted according to your other appointments.

Reality of Work-Life Balance in Virtual Jobs

You can manage your time however you wish with a flexible schedule. The real question is, "How good are you at time management?"

Let's look at the following situation

You want to go on a holiday with a friend, and you can adjust your schedule to fit theirs. However, since your friend is still working in an office, a request for leave would still be required.

You can have the freedom to choose your dates for a holiday only if you go alone or with people on a flexible schedule. In all other cases, you must adjust to someone else's schedule and paid leave.

How about this situation

You are working and focused on reading instructions for a task, but a family member or your child needs to ask you something. You interrupt your job, forgetting the last sentence you read to pay attention to your immediate surroundings. Once you are done answering this person, you go back to work, only to be interrupted again in ten minutes or less.

And another one

You are busy all day with appointments with the doctor, attending an event, and meeting friends you haven't seen for a long time, and you go back home late in the evening. You have a deadline, so it's time to return to work. After running around all day, that's the last thing you want to do, and you will probably need more productivity that day.

The reality about work-life balance is that you need to learn time-management skills and tremendous self-discipline.

Other things to consider are boundaries with your family regarding the work/break schedule you want to establish at home. Being constantly interrupted leads to lower productivity and, eventually, more mistakes.

Is Working Remotely Better than an Office Job?

For me, the answer is definitely yes. Despite all the struggles and new and challenging skills, I had to learn along the way. With the right attitude, anyone can turn most expectations into a reality and a dream come true.

a man working from a beautiful rocky place with a laptop


Change the position if a job needs to be more flexible to fit your style. If the expenses are too high - earn more. There is always a solution for every issue in a home office.

We should always strive for the best jobs that help us reveal our full potential and make us a valuable part of society.

The productivity expectations vs reality are experienced differently depending on your character, drive for work, and other factors. But many of the case scenarios above happen similarly to most freelancers.

That's why you must be prepared for the actual situations you might end up in so that you handle them with confidence.

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  1. What a helpful post on discussing the pros and cons of remote working! I worked remotely for a year and noticed a significant decrease in my stress level but I felt isolated!

  2. I think a lot of people romanticize working remotely (myself included sometimes) so this was a really great way to look at and begin to understand the balance between what we think it may be like and the actual realities. Great post!

  3. Thank you for shedding light on the expectations versus reality of working remotely. Your article serves as a helpful resource for those considering or currently engaged in remote work. I look forward to reading more of your content and gaining further insights into this evolving work landscape.

  4. The landscape of corporate America has changed over the past few years. I never imagined remote work to be the sought after structure but it has benefited many. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and ideas on this.

  5. Very comprehensive and lots of things I didn't think about regarding working at home. Thanks for this post!

  6. Such an interesting read! I think remote working can be wonderful but that employers and employees alike need to be aware it’s not just a case of go home and make it happen. It takes a mindset shift, organisation and realistic expectations!

  7. Yes!!! It always surprises me when I say I'm going to work from home, and then it's super loud from construction!!

  8. Interesting take that doesn't sugar coat working from home. I disagree that you don't save much money. Gas is so expensive right now my utilities are always lower even with increased use and I would pay for wifi regardless. And being able to have good meals at home is both good for me financially and my health.

  9. Great points - loved the comparison from expected to reality. I think people that aren’t working from home have the automatic assumption that it’s “easier” or “less work”, but like anything it has it’s downfalls and it’s really not for everyone.

  10. Work life balance is so important - even working from home remotely. I work from home full time and it’s definitely difficult at first - but routine is so important. Thank you for the post!

  11. Loved reading this article as so many of us bloggers work from home. You surely are on the fine balance at times

  12. I think the pandemic certainly changed how many people work! I think it’s a double edged sword. My husband feels more productive at the office, but doesn’t enjoy the commute. He does 1/2 and 1/2.

  13. I prefer working from home. Though both of them have their own benefits and drawbacks. It totally depends on your situation and working environment how do you tackle you work.

  14. Interesting post. It is very informative. I dislike remote work, but as you mentioned there are pros and cons. It takes some time to adapt to this work lifestyle.

  15. Is it easier to take that self initiative at home versus all the distractions in the office?

    1. Yes, definitely it's easier for me. I don't struggle with self-initiative as I love what I do. This is the key - when your job is your hobby, there would be no issues with motivation. Office is an entire different world with all its specifics - your colleagues, the travelling, etc.

  16. I used to work in sales. It was stressful constantly seeing your quota go up because you did well the previous month. Once I reached my financial goals, I was out of there!


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