Is getting a remote job right for you?
Believe it or not, some people just don’t want to work remote. It doesn’t fit everyone’s lifestyle, working habits or even social aspirations. While studies, headlines and social media clickbait continue to perpetuate the idea that open office spaces are the death of productivity, the truth is that we need to figure out what helps and motivates us to work independently and within a team.
When I started working behind a desk after college I knew I wanted more from work – and more for my life. That’s when I discovered the possibility of remote work. In less than a year, after thousands of Google searches and tons of outreach, I found a new role that provided me with the work, creativity, and flexibility I craved. Everything from your environment, to your relationships, managers, and responsibilities all influence what works best for you. So, if you have been thinking about pursuing a remote job, I’m ready to help you get it! First, let’s start with what makes someone a good remote worker to see if you’re a fit.
What makes someone a good remote worker?
Remote workers are organized, reliable, agile and expert communicators. Working in an office typically means you have a set schedule and responsibilities outside of that are often looser and less rigid. One benefit of working remotely can be a more flexible schedule where some days you have time to accomplish things in your life because work is slower, and you’re not expected to be onsite. However, this bonus comes with its own set of expectations. Although working remote means you’re not expected to be somewhere you’re still expected to be available when the work calls for it.
This may be less about working remote and more about defining workload with your manager, but be aware, remote employees can be called on to do work at strange hours. Plenty of remote teams span international time zones meaning your 9 pm is someone else’s 9 am.
If you want to work remote and successfully excel in a remote career, be prepared to answer the call of duty. Looking at the prospect of a remote job may seem like the opportunity to score unlimited vacation days, but it won’t feel that way when you’re struggling to finish a quarterly report on a sun-soaked beach because you couldn’t manage your own time well enough.
The best remote workers are similar to the best traditional workers. They keep track of their responsibilities, seek to exceed expectations rather than meeting them, they’re friendly, but above all others, remote workers need excellent communication skills. If you’re considering working remote remember that your boss isn’t going to be down the hall when it comes time to talk and they’re going to be a lot less hesitant to call you outside of work hours.
Pros of remote work
Ditch your commute:
Let’s face it, there are A LOT of people on this planet and it’s only getting denser and more populated. The more people, bikes, cars, and mopeds we add to our busy streets, the harder it is to get from work to home and back again. Save yourself some personal meditation time and ditch the commute in favor of a routine that works for you.
Make your own schedule:
Remember college? The days when waking up for a class was a decision you could leave for the morning when every semester you were given the chance to determine when and what classes you were interested in taking? While remote work isn’t exactly like that, it’s much similar than what a traditional office is like. Reclaim your flexibility and sleep in or something. As long as you’ve communicated with your boss, remote work should help you define your own schedule better.
Work from anywhere:
Sometimes people tell their hesitant to work remote because they can’t see themselves working from home. That’s when I calmly remind them that it’s called “Remote Work”, not “Work from Home Only”. When you find a remote job that works for you, it may take a while to realize, but you can practically go anywhere. Don’t overdo it at first, but in my few years of working remotely, I’ve seriously pushed the envelope by taking my job anywhere from a local Starbucks to a floating hut in Colombia. Working remote makes this possible, it’s just up to you to define the balance.
More family time:
While I don’t have a family of my own right now, I do know plenty of people with kids or preparing to have them and the benefits of remote work are immediately clear to them. When it comes to caring for little ones, especially in the United States, managing your professional responsibilities is never easy. Although you’ll still need to be on top of your work, having the flexibility to schedule yourself and define where you work is a welcome benefit when considering a family.
Have you ever considered the cost of your job? Clothes, gas, lunch and so on… It really adds up! That’s why I think another and often overlooked benefit of remote work is cutting back on costs. Many large businesses are stationed far away from residential areas which means you either have to settle for a daily sack lunch or suck it up and pay for an overpriced meal on the streets, just for a little variety around your taste buds! When you work remotely you’ll have the agency to determine how much or how little you want to spend on your job. From gas to clothes to lunches, what you spend isn’t determined by an official policy or someone else’s demands, it’s up to what helps you work.
Office stress and distractions:
Now, this is where it gets tricky, but I want to acknowledge everyone’s optimal working habits. Depending on where you work, you may find your office isn’t conducive to focusing on your assignments. Some people love open floor plans, some people prefer holding themselves in a dark corner with a thermos of coffee. The point is we’re all different in how we work, but if you do find traditional office layouts distracting, then remote work could free you from those stresses and distractions. To be fair, I’ve met plenty of hardworking and ambitious people who say the same thing about remote work! Crazy, right? However, that’s just the facts. Distractions and stress are everywhere it’s more about finding an environment that helps you escape them and personally I think the flexibility provided by remote work helps achieve this much easier.
Cons of remote work
Sometimes remote work can lead to isolation. Surprisingly I’ve met a lot of people in my travels that are wonderfully exuberant and social, but they’re plagued with mountains of anxiety. In fact, these people have told me they rely on their jobs to network, make friends and form bonds! If you’re an introverted person that still yearns for light socialization you might find that remote work actually promotes your own sense of isolation, so avoid it!
It may sound ridiculous but the working remote can mean working more than you typically would. With a traditional job, the lines aren’t always blurred and sometimes, especially at much denser offices where oversight is thin, you can even get away with working less while still climbing the corporate ladder. With remote work, your effort shows much more. You’ll trade stringent scheduling expectations for a spotlight that clearly illuminates just how much or how little you’ve contributed.
Motivation comes from within and when it comes to remote work this is couldn’t be truer. While the responsibilities of working remotely can arise at any time, the will to do them usually relies on yourself. Without being surrounded by fellow colleagues or continuously pestered by your manager, it’s officially up to you to prove that you can get work done independently.
No “water cooler moments”:
Even though I’m not really a fan of office plans or habits, I do sometimes miss feeling a part of something larger. Working remote really does mean making your own social activations and motivations a reality and even your coworkers can feel incredibly distant when the majority of your communication takes place via email or instant messaging. Before you determine working remotely is right for you, consider what you’ll sacrifice in order to obtain it.
Do you still want to work remote?
Working remotely for me has been a dream come true, albeit with its own share of obstacles. If you’ve been considering working remote, weigh the pros and cons I’ve outlined above and felt free to follow up with me for more advice and insight.
The more I linger online, the more articles I see pushing remote teams and flexible workspaces. And although this lifestyle has been ideal for me, I want you to know that it’s ok that it’s not for everybody and it doesn’t hurt to try something new. It’s not impossible to go from a traditional office space to a remote office or even vice versa if your remote environment just isn’t working out. Doing it all abroad demands testing new things, besides, if we never tried something new, how would we know what really works for us?