9 Reasons Remote Work Might Not Be For You

Sure, work from home sounds great, but it’s not all sunshine and rainbows. Here are some of the ways it could go wrong.
Last updated Nov 18, 2021 | By Miranda Marquit | Edited By Rebecca McCracken
mom working at home with kids distracting her

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For many, working from home seems like a dream. Remote work got a bit of a boost from the global pandemic, but even before then, many people liked the idea of working remotely. What could be better than a job that allows you to earn money from the comfort of your home?

However, remote work isn’t always the dream situation it’s made out to be. Even if the pay is good, some common complaints crop up once the reality sets in. So before you find a new job that allows you to work remotely, take a step back and consider the implications.

Reliable WiFi

foxyburrow/Adobe Woman working remotely in coffee shop

Finding reliable WiFi can be one of the biggest challenges of working remotely — especially if you take your work on the road with you.

Even being at home can be tough, though. For example, if your internet service provider has an interruption, you could go hours without access to your work, unable to get anything done. Sometimes, once you start working from home, the strain on your network increases, and you end up with slower upload and download times.

What to do:

Have a backup plan for your WiFi. Get an idea of where you can find access to WiFi in town, such as a library or coffee shop. You can also get a portable hotspot to take with you when you travel. For example, I have a hotspot on my phone, so I can connect to my cellphone in a pinch if the internet goes out at my house.

Feeling lonely

Алексей Закиров/Adobe Woman frustrated reading something on computer

According to the American Psychological Association, almost two-thirds of those who work from home feel lonely at least sometimes. It’s common to feel isolated when you’re involved with remote work. This mental health toll can be rough on people who want to feel a connection to others.

What to do:

Consider finding out whether there’s an option to commute into the office two or three days a week. This can provide a way to connect to your coworkers and others. Another option is to use a coworking space or go to a coffee shop and work with other people.

Distractions

oes/Adobe Father Working from home on laptop during quarantine

When you work from home, there’s a good chance that you have a hard time focusing on work. You might get distracted by watching TV or the couch might feel more comfortable than sitting at your desk. As a result, you could have a hard time staying on task and remaining productive.

What to do:

If you work from home, create a dedicated workspace. Even just blocking off a desk area and using it only for working can help. Also, consider using a coworking space that can be dedicated to work, if you have the means or a stipend to do so.

Difficult to stop working at the end of the day

astrosystem/Adobe Woman sleeping on her desk at home while working remotely freelance job

Ending the workday can be difficult when you have remote work. Indeed, the American Psychological Association found that 67 percent of remote workers had trouble stopping work at the end of the day. You can run the risk of being consumed by work and not drawing that line between work and the rest of your life when you work from home. Without those boundaries, work can start taking over. So even if you’re looking to retire early, you probably still want to stop working at the end of the day to relax.

What to do:

Create a set time to quit at the end of the day and stick to it. For example, consider setting an alarm to bring you out of work at the end of the day. Another strategy is to put away the email and block that app after a certain time in the evening. Finally, if you have a separate computer or phone for work, consider putting them away at the end of the workday.

Collaborating with coworkers

Вадим Пастух/Adobe Mother working from home, she talks online with a coworkers via video call on laptop, a cute kid near

Sometimes it’s hard to work with coworkers when you’re remote. Endless emails back and forth to come up with meeting times or other difficulties arise. Trying to figure out how to collaborate with coworkers when you can’t just pop over to their desk or office to make arrangements for a project.

What to do:

Tools like Asana and Monday.com can help you manage projects, even if you don’t work in an office together. Additionally, if possible, it can make sense to schedule in-person meetings once or twice a week to work on projects.

Time zone differences across distributed teams

DimaBerlin/Adobe Tired man rubbing his eyes, sitting at desktop PC/laptop late at night

Working with a fully distributed team can feel like a dream come true, especially if you can be at home all the time. But what happens if you need to work with someone who has a big time zone difference and you’re asynchronous? You might need to wait until the next day for an answer to your email, or you might have a hard time coming up with a meeting time that works for multiple people.

What to do:

Technology tools like Slack, Zoom, and Teams can help you communicate quickly and effectively when collaborating with coworkers, even across different time zones. You might have to figure out when to have a video meeting that works for different people at odd times, but fully distributed teams can work asynchronously for many projects.

Remaining motivated throughout the day

Alexander Borisenko/Adobe woman sitting at workplace yawning

Another difficulty is feeling motivated throughout the day. It can be hard in an office to stay motivated to work, but when you don’t have coworkers or a boss around you, it’s even harder to remain motivated to do your work.

What to do:

Consider getting an accountability partner to help you stay motivated while you work. You can check in with them at various points throughout the day, using communication tools to help each other stay on track and motivated to get your work done.

Using vacation time

Impact Photography/Adobe Man working while camping

When you work remotely, it’s hard to have a real vacation, even when it’s part of your paycheck. You might get used to working from anywhere, and taking vacation time might be difficult for you to do. Even when you’re supposed to be relaxing, you might decide to check your email, or even finish one more report. It can be hard to step away when you can access your work no matter where you are.

What to do:

Make it a point to take vacation time — you’re entitled to it. When you go on vacation, try to avoid doing any work. This is time off. It can be difficult to disconnect from work sometimes, but try to prioritize it at least once a year.

Family and pet obligations

New Africa/Adobe Adorable white cat lying on keyboard and distracting owner from work, closeup

Sure, you want to be available for your family and pets. However, sometimes it gets a little out of control when the cat won’t get off the keyboard or your toddler comes in to ask for yet another toy. Trying to navigate these issues can be one of the most difficult things about remote work.

What to do:

Set up some boundaries. In some cases, you might need to put a gate in front of your office area in order to keep the pets out. Another option might be childcare, at least for a couple of hours a day, so you can focus on your work.

Bottom line

Prostock-studio/Adobe Tired woman sitting at desk, rubbing eyes

Remote work can be a good way to add flexibility to your schedule. However, there are challenges that come with working remotely. Even if you’re looking for ways to make extra money or start your own business, rather than working for a company, you could end up struggling as you work from home.

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Author Details

Miranda Marquit Miranda Marquit has been covering money for more than a decade and is a nationally-recognized financial expert and journalist, appearing on CNBC, NPR, Forbes, Yahoo! Finance, FOX Business, and numerous other outlets.