Congratulations! You just landed a remote job. You have an ocean of possibilities ahead of you. No supervisor peaking over your shoulder to see your screen. No more commuting, losing time. You'll set your own schedule, work in your PJs, become a world traveler. Anything you want!
You were daydreaming about how productive your days would be and how much more time you'd have. Proper breakfasts, exercise sessions and meet-ups with friends would be your new norm.
Is it real though? Do remote workers actually have that freedom? Is it all rainbows and butterflies?
Meet the dark side of remote work.
There are multiple things that could go wrong with this model: more distractions, lack of structure, time-zone difficulties, less human contact. What I want to touch upon with this post though is the balance between work and life and how tender this scale is.
Take note that any of these challenges could be conquered and solved - it's a matter of acknowledging and being aware.
The case of overworking, to overcome the fear of underworking.
Excluding the remote companies where employees have to strictly keep track of the time they spend handling tasks, you will not be judged by the number of hours you sit at your desk. Your measurement of success has been replaced by the outcome, and not the number of hours you kill.
The hidden danger is however, that you may soon start wondering if you've done enough and if you've managed your time to achieve maximum productivity. Truth be told, this wondering situation possibly will evolve into a feeling of guilt and constant need to prove yourself. You'll want to ensure your boss that you are working and not snoozing, so you'll make yourself online and work longer than you need to. You'll work additional hours on one day, that's fine. Then, that feeling haunts you the next day and the following day, so you'll find yourself working at least a few more hours than you should. Every day. (Count those hours, it's a lot.)
The result: A remote work dream turned into a nightmare. You've become all work and no play, feeling burnt-out and soon enough, you'll lose your faith and interest in this model.
Please don't do that.
Understand that when you work remotely, there's no one around to tell you to 'go home', 'take a break' or that the 'office is closing'. So there's nothing external that alerts you if that day's work is enough. Just as you are the authority to manage your time schedule, you are the only person to make that decision to stop.
How to solve: Define priorities, set boundaries and observe yourself at work really well. Understand your best work times, productivity levels, what keeps you motivated and mood throughout the day.
Be your own boss and take responsibility for when you'll start, speed up and stop.