Think Working Remotely Will Solve All Your Problems? Here are 3 Things That Suck About It

Joanne Poh



Remote working is fast becoming the dream of many Singaporean employees because, well, nobody likes taking the MRT to work.

Plus, being able to work from home solves many problems in people’s lives, from not being able to find an affordable childcare centre that isn’t miles away from home or a breeding ground for hand-foot-and-mouth disease, to not having to minimise your browser windows in a panic when you sense your boss approaching from behind.

In fact, this recent news report lionised companies that allowed their employees to work remotely, while even the government is trying to dangle carrots to entice companies to offer their workers flexible work arrangements.

So remote working has to be the answer to all of life’s problems, right?

I’m not going to lie, for certain types of people, it can be pretty great, especially if you’re not a morning person. But that doesn’t mean it’s easy, fun or good for your mental health.

Here are three disadvantages you’ll face when you freelance or work remotely. Don’t say you weren’t warned.


Too many distractions at home

Under the watchful eye of your boss, you only dare to sneak fearful peaks at Facebook when you’re at the office, especially if you have the worst seat in the house—the one directly in front of the boss with your back facing him.

When you’re working remotely, you have nobody breathing down your neck—but this can be disastrous on those days when you’re just not feeling focused or motivated. Unlike working in an office, there is no knocking off until you’ve finished your work, even if your brain is hemorrhaging or your entire family got killed in a fire.

That means being able to watch endless YouTube videos of gamers sharing their DOTA secrets or episodes of Ultra Rich Asian Girls is going to be a curse rather than a blessing. Your cat lying across your keyboard and being all cute, and your kid’s account of what transpired at kindergarten are all going to be evil distractions standing in the way of your productivity.


No social interaction at work

So, when you made the switch to working remotely, you never thought you’d miss your colleagues. After all, these are the people whose necks you wanted to wring every morning as they gossiped loudly about the colleagues sitting on the other side of the room.

But just try sitting in the deathly silence of your bedroom for 36 hours straight and you’ll see how working remotely can make you start hearing voices in your head. Being able to eat at home is both a blessing and a curse. When you are finally released into the outside world, you turn try to start conversations with everyone from the garbage truck guys to the sullen guy beside you on the MRT.

That’s why people choose to pay to work in co-working spaces when they could just work at home for free. You’re not going to have the hallowed “work buddy” at this job, and you can’t fall back on your colleagues to be the only people in your social life,  so you’ve got to find ways to keep yourself sane, like by having an actual life outside of work.


You can’t go running to a senior or mentor for help when things go wrong

When you’re a greenhorn (or blur sotong, if you prefer Singlish), you may not realise it, but you’re actually very dependent on the people around you. You need to be trained by those who have more experience than you, and even after you’ve been shown the ropes, chances are you still go running to a trusted senior whenever you run into roadblocks.

When you work remotely, you can’t just sashay up to your mentor’s cubicle to ask for help. Even if you email someone for help, it’s going to take time for them to reply.

For freelancers, the lack of mentors can be a real obstacle in picking up new skills and progressing in your career. You have to be proactive about upgrading yourself and savvy enough to fill the holes in your skill-set.

What challenges have you run into when working remotely? Share your stories in the comments!

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Joanne Poh

In my previous life, I was a property lawyer who spent most of my time struggling to get out of bed or stuck in peak hour traffic. These days, as a freelance commercial writer, I work in bed, on the beach, in parks and at cafes, all while being really frugal. I like helping other people save money so they can stop living lives they don't like.