Working remotely: the good, the bad, and the unexpected

With the recent rise in working from home, we wanted to share our Webflow team and community’s insights about the challenges and solutions for remote work.

Mariah Driver
Deepak Kanda
March 19, 2020
Inspiration

For some, working remotely can seem exciting. For others, anxiety levels start to rise. That’s why it is more important than ever to create an environment that will help you stay productive, and more importantly, sane.

Everyday, our Webflow team sets world records for commute times. We redefine office casual and sport furry footwear that distinctly resembles our furry officemates. We dial into Zoom calls from our glamorous home offices or spouse’s craft rooms and share glimpses of our remote lives in Slack channels dedicated to houseplants and housepets.

This week, millions of individuals join Webflow’s 70% remote workforce to reduce the spread of the Coronavirus. Those who are just joining the Remote Life™️ may be familiar with the many benefits that remote work has to offer — especially at a time like this. Remote working from home, however, doesn’t always work for everyone.

In an effort to help support and empower the increasing number of remote workers, we asked our team and community to open up about the less glamorous aspects of remote work — and share some of the unique solutions they’ve developed to help overcome them.

9 not-even-remotely-great aspects of remote work — and some creative solutions

1. Managing the expectations of those around you when you’re working from home 

Even if your expectations at work don’t change when you’re working remotely, your expectations at home can. When you’re working from home, it may seem (to you or your family/roommates) that it is easier to help out with household chores during the day. While you are closer in proximity to the unloaded dishwasher or dirty laundry pile, the expectation to take care of household tasks during your workday can begin to interrupt your workday and reduce your productivity.

Our teammate, Josh Cypher, shares his experience and ideas for how to manage the expectations of those around you while you’re working from home:

“When it comes to working from home, one of the unexpected challenges I faced was convincing those around me that I am at work and asking them to leave me alone. When you’re home all day, others might expect you to take on an unfair load of household tasks. Reminding your family members or roommates that you are not available for household chores during work hours can help set expectations.”

– Josh Cypher

2. The lunchtime dilemmas

When we asked folks about the challenges that come with working remotely, the biggest one didn’t involve work at all. Cue: lunchtime. The first lunchtime dilemma? Remembering to actually eat lunch.

“One of the biggest surprises about remote work: without the social cues of everyone else going to lunch, it’s remarkably easy to skip lunch completely.” 

– Molly Lafferty

Our team members who struggle with this found that carving out an hour for lunch everyday not only made sure that they had time to eat lunch in-between meetings, but they actually remembered to do it.

For those of you who have natural hunger cues, the missing reminder to eat lunch may not be as much of an issue. What can be a challenge is figuring out what to eat for lunch — especially when you don’t have the time or motivation to cook for yourself. To help alleviate the hanger-induced lunchtime stress, our teammates recommend “packing” a lunch like you would if you were going into the office. 

“Planning and preparing my lunch before my day begins helps me stop working to eat lunch and avoid snacking all day, which affects my productivity drastically.”

– Jules Lachapelle

3. Office drama is not always off-limits, even at home

You might’ve thought that office drama was restricted to the office. That is, until you realize that your cat loves walking on your keyboard, your dog barks at every car passing by, or your roommate has a weekly call at the same time as you.

One of our Webflow team members, Frank, shares a home office with his wife and pup, and is thereby named our resident Home Office Drama expert. 

“My wife runs her company out of our home with her own remote team, and both of us share the same office in the 2nd bedroom. It’s nice, but we both take calls. Having a functional backup place (i.e. dining room table, couch, etc.) and making it a point to check in and communicate what calls each of you have at the start of the day makes it nice because you can coordinate who is going where up front.  Also, it’s nice to alternate “taking one for the team” when one person has a particularly stressful or important call scheduled.”

– Frank Ramirez

4. Embracing the bedroom office 

While many of our teammates recommend not working from your bedroom, many people living in smaller apartments or with roommates don’t have another choice. Our teammate, Shannon Fisher, recommends that you embrace the space you have:

“Embrace the bedroom office if you need to! Almost every WFH advice article I see advises against having an office in your room. I don't have the luxury of space though. So if this is you, too — don't feel bad! There are things you can do to make this feel less ick. That being said, it’s important to make your bed every day! Especially if your office is in your room. This helps me feel like my office/bedroom is clutter-free and ready for work mode.” 

– Shannon Fisher

5. Being alone. With your own thoughts. All day. IS HARD.

Getting out of bed is hard. Getting out of your own head is harder.  

“When I first transitioned to remote work, the introvert in me couldn’t wait for the solo and silence time. What I didn’t expect? How hard it is to be alone, all day, with your biggest critic: yourself. The conversations I used to overhear between coworkers in the office about the weather or the unacceptable surge in Uber prices were replaced with my own thoughts — and let me tell you, they aren’t about the weather or Uber prices.”

– Mariah Driver

One way to manage your mind while you’re working from home and spending most of the day by yourself is to write things down. Getting things out of your head and onto paper (or your computer) can help you reframe and manage them. 

6. Ditching the pajama party 

When you start working from home, it will be tempting to work in your pajamas all the time. Over time, however, the pajama party might start having negative effects:

“Once the novelty of not having to get dressed wears off, working in your pjs starts to chip away at your mental health/psyche. What seems like a perk, ends up making me feel like an unproductive schlub.” 

– Shannon Fisher

Another teammate, Stephanie Winn, shares the same experience — and an easy way to transition back into office casual:

“As an amateur pajama enthusiast, wearing pajamas all day did actually get old quickly. But with no other coworkers to impress it's hard to get dressed into something that is comfy and stylish. Enter the basic white t shirt! Dress it up with a cardigan and leggings or down with last night's pajama pants. This truly helped me adjust and switch intentions through out the day.”

– Stephanie Winn

TL;DR:

7. Maintaining a morning routine

When working remotely, it’s very easy and tempting to wake up and jump right into work — especially if going to the office doesn’t require getting out of bed. Unfortunately, however, jumpstarting “work mode” is not as easy as opening up your laptop or logging into Slack. If you find that it’s more challenging to jumpstart your workday when you are working from home, you’re not alone. 

Our Webflow teammates and community members share the same challenge — and recommend creating a morning routine to help you start the workday:

“Sometimes it helps to get dressed up and even put shoes on like you would be wearing at an office.” 

– Tegan Churchill

8. No such thing as over d̶r̶e̶s̶s̶e̶d̶ communicated

Working with your teammates and/or clients is much harder when you’re working in different places — and especially when you’re working in different timezones. Working remotely requires an extra effort to make sure everyone is on the same page — and you know, to remind everyone you still exist.

9. Filling your free time without additional work

It is no surprise one saves a lot (like, a lot) of time by working remotely — but that can also be an unexpected challenge. It’s easy to fill the extra free time you gain by skipping your commute in the mornings and evening with extra work — but that can easily lead to burnout.

Our Webflow community shares a few ideas for how you can fill your free time without additional work:

Not a bad lunch idea #Selfcare

Planning out your evening is key when working from home.

What did we miss?

Even with all of the challenges and fusses, being able to work remotely is still something to be extremely grateful for in these trying times. While business is far from usual right now, employers and employees who are able to continue working together while apart are the lucky few. 

That being said, it’s extremely important that both employers and employees acknowledge the challenges that come with remote work. For many, remote work is not a nice-to-have, and we hope that in this moment, we can start to build empathy for the remote work experience and optimize our processes for productivity and mental well-being.

What are your thoughts on working remotely? What are some unexpected challenges showing up for you? Let us know in the comments!

Mariah Driver

Fancy meeting you here! I’m the Head of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at Webflow. If you're in the market for dad jokes, dog GIFS, and insights into what we're working on at Webflow, follow me on Twitter!

Deepak Kanda

Social Media Manager at Webflow. And yes, my job is more than just sharing cat gifs (not really).

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