The BIGGEST Remote Work Misconception

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Now, there are a lot. So I’m not sure if this is the biggest, but it’s definitely brought to my attention on a very regular basis.

And that is: that I’m not ACTUALLY working. And/or that this year is just one giant vacation.

L-O-L @ that.

I’m laughing because as I’m writing this, I’m coming down with a cold, I’m sleep deprived and I’m feeling more overworked than I’ve felt in the last 3.5 years with my company. Work, it seems, is all that I’ve BEEN doing.

I guess that’s hard to believe for people back home, who may look at my Instagram or Facebook and assume that I’m out gallivanting across the globe. Yes, I may be doing cooler shit in the afternoons and on weekends, but not much has changed on the work front (other than I may actually be working MORE now).

Let me explain.

I had to ask my job to do this. [To work remotely]. I am not my own boss. I am not an entrepreneur or freelancer. I do not have the ability of deciding if and when I sit down to work on any given day. In fact, I have a set schedule with 40 hours of work accounted for, some of which overlap the weekends (I will be working 3 out of the 4 weekends this month in Portugal). My point is, I have to sit down at my computer for 8 hours a day. If I don’t, well — that wouldn’t go over well with my boss. Also, as an Admissions Representative at a private, for-profit educational institution, I do have a monthly quota to hit and I am paid on commission. If I don’t do my job and hit my numbers, the only person NOT getting paid is me. This last point alone actually requires that I exceed my 40 hours most weeks; to make myself available during New York City business hours, even if that’s well into the night for me.

In addition to this, there also comes with remote work a sense of responsibility AND accountability that isn’t otherwise the case back home when you’re in the office. Because my boss can’t physically see my face each day, I’ve made a point to go above and beyond what is expected of me; to almost prove that I can and will do my job just as well — if not better — than I would if I were physically present. Not only that, but it’s way easier to screw around (for lack of a better word) when you’re in the office, than when you’re alone and removed from the bunch. Being out here on my own, I’ve made more of a point to read every email in detail, to be super present on every phone call and meeting, to ask more questions, to pay more attention in general … to make sure that I don’t miss a thing! The cool thing is that those extra accountability steps end up paying off and working in my favor (which is the plus side of remote work and definitely a blog for another time!)

Lastly, in getting this remote position approved by my employer, I offered to add something to my day to day role that is normally NOT required of me back home. As an Admissions Representative, I spend the majority of my days on the phone with prospective students. I don’t do anything on the marketing and advertising fronts. Being a global school, however, I see a huge benefit in marketing my journey on our website and social platforms, to really convey to our audience that we have a global message and initiative. Part of this plan includes facilitating prospective student meet-ups in cities where we have larger audiences. Lisbon, Portugal is one of them! That being said, I’ve spent a significant amount of time planning for this event since getting here — this includes meeting with one of our local affiliates, reserving rooms at the workspace for this, finding local plant-based vendors to partner with, organizing a budget for food & drinks, working with tech on creating a landing page for prospective students to register, coming up with the actual structure of the event … all of the things! This has been a great deal of fun, but its work none-the-less.

I guess what I’m trying to say is: remote work IS. STILL. WORK. And if you have the type of job that doesn’t require you to physically be present anywhere, then you should have the liberty and ability to call any place your office. This doesn’t, by any means, excuse you from doing the work that you actually have to do. If anything, it requires that you dial in and focus in ways that you otherwise wouldn’t. If anything, it requires an ownership over your work on a much greater level.

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