Valuable advice I received when I first started consulting was that too many people leave their corporate jobs to go out on their own, only to discover they now have a tougher boss.
It seems that many people are finding themselves in this situation with the rapid shift to remote work.
Employers and employees alike have found that you can get a lot more things done remotely than we thought. It is accelerating innovation in how we work and allowing individuals to be more responsible for supervising themselves.
Many remote workers are now discovering that their new boss is a tyrant.
The impact of the shift into remote work was assessed in a recently published study of 10,000 IT professionals by a group of economists from the University of Chicago.
What they found was that “Total hours worked increased by roughly 30%, including a rise of 18% in working after normal business hours. Average output did not significantly change. Therefore, productivity fell by about 20%.”
The most negatively affected were those with children at home and women.
Setting aside the pros and cons of remote working, one thing that tends to be overlooked is how you choose to manage your own time when there is more flexibility.
A real risk is that you choose to work longer hours for the same output. People who have worked for themselves for years have learnt that if you don’t schedule downtime to rest and recharge, you end up working constantly and being less productive.
Remote working will have a greater importance in future, but is not a panacea for knowledge workers. These jobs are usually complex, with multiple tasks, high demands for focused thinking, involve innovation, and require significant collaboration.
Remote working is challenging enough. Don’t make it harder on yourself.