I was jamming with a colleague, digital marketing expert Jeff Travilla from JCM Media Group, a while back about the pros and cons of working online, which inspired me to flesh out a list of six pronounced pros and six chaotic cons. I shared the pros in a previous post. In this post, I’ll share the chaotic cons.
Take a read and see which ones resonate with you. Are there any you’d add?
Six Chaotic Cons To Working Online
1. Digital divide
“The digital divide is the gap that exists between those who have access to the internet and reliable devices and those who don’t.” Source: Close the Gap Foundation.
While working online gives many of us instant digital access that has never before been possible, to many it makes the digital divide even wider. Limited or no bandwidth and/or no access to basic hardware and software can be a nightmare for some, especially when added to potential preexisting literacy and numeracy challenges.
2. Digital literacy challenges
In addition to the digital divide, some folks just generally struggle with tech. And when tech is so central to working online, well, here come the migraines. Zoom bombs, annotating online, polling, making sure you’re aware when your camera is on or off, etc., etc. can make some people’s eyes spin.
Furthermore, people’s comfort with tech tools and their overall digital literacy depends in part on if they’re a digital native (they grew up with online tech tools) or a digital immigrant (they came to this whole new world later in life).
Note: Ahem, I can remember sending my first fax – it was a wonderful, magical almost-too-good-to-be-true event.
If digital literacy issues aren’t taken into account, well, that can and does lead to multiple migraines.
3. Not seeing the big picture
While for some, working online gives unprecedented ability to focus, for others it’s hard to collaborate when you can only literally see a small slice of someone and their screen. We can easily miss important nuances that can hinder collaboration, communication, conflict resolution, and more.
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4. We miss important behaviour cues
Further to con number two, when we’re communicating online, we can miss important behavior cues.
Our biochemistry alters with online communication. When we’re face to face neurotransmitters like dopamine and oxytocin (which facilitates interpersonal communication) get released. Without face-to-face communication, we experience online communication very differently psychologically.
“Without those chemicals, we experience meetings very differently at a logical level, in ways that can affect both what we accomplish and how we feel during and after a meeting.” Source: Remote Inc.
5. Homing from home
I listed homing from home as a pro in the first post, and it is (source: Alexandra Samuel, author of Remote Inc.: How to Thrive at Work . . . Wherever You Are, or her partner Rob Cottingham). Being able to pet your cat, cuddle your kid, step into your garden, etc. can all be a treat.
Homing from home can also be a real con and uncover a plethora of challenges. That pile of laundry that is ever increasing, instead of being out of sight out of mind while you’re in your ‘regular’ workplace, stares you in the face every time you get up from your home office chair. That squeaky cupboard that needs fixing? The kid that needs help with homework? The prescription renewal that needs tending to? That thirsty plant? Hungry dog? They’re in your face 24/7.
Fumio Sasaki talks about the silent to-do list in his book Goodbye Things.
Your normally hidden to-do list (said squeaky cupboard, homework, prescription, etc. above) is more prevalent and therefore overwhelming when we’re homing from home.
6. Taxing, troubling time zones
While working remotely means you can chat with Vishalni in Kathmandu 24/7, it doesn’t mean you should. Anyone who’s been asked to join a meeting at an ungodly hour knows what I mean. This can be exacerbated if you work with a company that has a headquarters plus regional offices, and HQ sets meetings on their time zones only.
All in all, working online, remotely from home definitely has its pros, including increased access and focus, digital tools and assets, homing from home, and working from home, plus easily navigating timezones. There are also some chaotic cons, digital divide, lacking the big picture, digital literacy, homing from home, missing behavior cues, and trouble timezones.
Love it, hate it, or somewhere in between, working remotely is here to stay, so try to increase the pros and dampen the cons, and your migraines will be fewer and far between.
Now go on and learn, laugh and lead
- I bet you relate to this hilarious kid mimicking her mom working online.
- Take advantage of working online with Virtual teamwork in the time of COVID – Turning you and your team right side up again (part one), part two, and three