Remote Worker: getting in the right mindset.
In this day and age there are more and more companies who work with remote workers. There are lot of tech savvy people who don’t want to work in a restraining office environment. They would rather enjoy the freedom of working from home and choose their own hours.
Employers can save themselves a lot of money on office space and maybe even rid the ‘brick and mortar’ company altogether and work with only remote workers. As you can imagine this requires a lot of changes in work style and management styles. It’s harder to track the progress of your employees and for employees being part of a team and dealing with deadlines takes on a new meaning.
If you’re looking to become a remote worker you will need to realize that apart from the usual job requirements, you will also need to meet a lot of other standards. Employers put will expect more of you and the job application and trial period will be more extensive then what you’re used do.
To prepare yourself for your job search and application as a remote worker you must first understand what an employer expects of you.
What an employer will expect of you
Complete a trial period
Trial periods for remote worker may be longer and more intense than you are used to. The interviewing process may also be more extensive than for a regular job. This is because the employer might never or seldom meet you in person which makes the extra careful.
Be just as productive as in a full-time 9-5
Even though you work from home you have to be just as productive as when you have a full-time job. Even though you have the freedom to schedule your own hours, working a full 40 hour work week is still expected. Unless you are very fast and efficient at your work and finish it in less time. What you deliver becomes more important than in how many hours you deliver your work. Nonetheless, the expectation is that you are committed to a full-time job
Be transparent in how and when you perform your tasks
Companies who work with remote workers will use software programs to communicate. There will be scheduled and unscheduled communication streams. They also use special software to manage tasks, projects, and share files. You will need to show which projects you’ve worked on, which tasks you performed and possibly how many hours you spent on it. Understanding this software and how to communicate effectively using this will be an important part of your job description.
Even though you can’t be available 24/7 and you create your own schedule, you will need to communicate when you are available and answer questions or give feedback without too much delay. You could be working with people in different time zones and on different schedules and will need to schedule your work and tasks accordingly. You will need to know when your direct managers and colleagues are working so you can adapt your schedule. This might mean that you will have times that you have to work or participate in meetings in the middle of the night.
Excel in Communication
Communicating face-to-face is difficult enough, communicating from a distance is even more difficult. Depending solely on written communication can mean that you will need to be clearer not only in what you say but also in what you mean. There’s a reason emojis were created, they communicate the tone and spirit our communication is intended in. Choose to use video chat when you want to communicate things that require a better understanding of attitudes and opinions.
Stick to project deadlines
Meeting deadlines is one of the most important facets of your job. It will help your manager determine whether you are fit or capable to be a remote worker. Since they cannot see how many hours you work and what you do, your productivity will be judged by the meeting of deadlines. You have a lot of freedom and flexibility as in the hours you can work but you are expected to be able to handle this freedom and finish your work on time.
Ask for help when needed
You don’t have to do everything alone. You have colleagues, management and HR to support you which is easy to forget when you never actually see them. As a remote worker, you get used to doing things alone. Knowing when to ask for help rather than endlessly stressing yourself out to perform a challenging task is also an important part of your job description.
Take care of physical and mental health
You are responsible for your physical and mental well being. Your manager can’t send you home when you are working too many hours or if you’re working when you’re sick. Nobody can see when you are near a break down because the deadlines are overwhelming. It is your responsibility to reach out to HR and management when you need help balancing life and work.
Be able to work independently
You need to be the type of person who can work and plan their own day without needing the constant support or motivation from a manager or peers. Nobody is looking over your shoulder, you need to look over your own shoulder and motivate yourself or pat yourself on the back. You are your own manager.
Manage your own work and life schedule
You decide how many hours and what time of day you work. You need to create a routine that works and be able to say no to daily life distractions. The freedom to work whenever you want is great but you do need to have the discipline to also put in the hours to get your work done.
Find a way to work with colleagues remotely
Even though it seems like you don’t have colleagues, you actually do. You will need to work with them professionally but also maintain a personal relationship. Becoming familiar will with your colleagues is necessary for efficient communication. You are more likely to work well with people you actually feel a connection with, rather than abstract names on a computer screen. You can schedule informal ‘breakroom’ meet ups to get to know you’re colleagues.
You will need to do a lot of tasks that you previously did offline, online. Because you might not have all the resources and or people at hand, you need to be creative and make things work for you. You don’t have physical meetings, you don’t have shared physical filing cabinets, all this will be done digitally.
Create a well setup home office
Nobody sees how you work but in order to deliver professional work and maintain a healthy posture, you will need to setup a sensible and comfortable workspace. Make sure you have an allocated workspace with a desk and a comfortable chair. If you’re working from the kitchen table, make sure it doesn’t ruin your posture after working there hours on end.
Your company will hold you accountable for productivity, meeting deadlines, delivering quality work. Each manager or company has their own methods but do expect to be asked to give more details on how and when you perform your work on occasion.
Be an excellent Planner
How you plan your daily tasks is up to you. In order to be an excellent planner you will need to find ways to set daily and weekly goals. You need to decide on how to keep track of tasks, projects and meetings and how to motivate yourself to stick to your schedule.
Excellent care of company assets
Some companies will provide you with a laptop, software and sometimes other technical devices to perform your work. You are expected to take care of your devices and return them when you leave the company.
Adhere to company policies
Even though you don’t work in an office, you will still have some rules and regulations you will need to stick to. There are policies for communicating, deadlines, safety and privacy. You are expected to sign a contract and abide by these rules.