How to Make Remote Work Your Reality in 2020
Remote work is on the rise. In fact, according to a study conducted by 15Five,
- 37% of companies have a main office but with employees working remotely
- 10% are fully distributed with no office space at all
With technology ever advancing and communication and collaboration tools further enhancing team connectivity, these numbers are only expected to grow in coming years.
With nearly half of all companies already employing remote workers, chances are you yourself have considered working remotely. And you wouldn’t be alone. Increased flexibility, the desired work-life balance, and in some cases, enhanced health and well-being have made remote work a much sought-after opportunity.
So is remote work right for you? How can you make it your reality in 2019? And what are the challenges you need to take into consideration? Read on to find out!
Know Whether Your Job Is Suitable for Remote Work
If working remotely is something you’ve thought about, consider first whether your profession allows for the possibility of remote work.
For instance, jobs in the health care, manufacturing, and retail industries typically aren’t conducive to telecommuting. Sadly, the same goes for tradesman like mechanics and plumbers.
Luckily, though, the advancement of reliable internet and the growth of instant messaging and team communication platforms mean more and more jobs lend themselves to remote work.
Some of the jobs most favorable for remote work include:
- Online Teachers
In many cases, though, as companies increasingly outsource, cut costs, and move more operations online, the number of remote positions in a wide array of fields is growing.
If the majority of your tasks can be completed with the right software and a solid internet connection, it’s worth looking into whether your position can be executed remotely.
Determine Whether Remote Work Is Suitable for You
So you’ve determined that you can do your job remotely and now you’re dreaming of sleeping in, lingering over your coffee, starting your day with your favorite book, yoga or fitness routine, or maybe even relocating completely.
Before taking the leap though, take some time to consider whether working remotely is actually right for you. That’s because remote work requires an often overlooked set of abilities in addition to what’s required of you in your current setting.
Ask yourself whether:
- You can meet your need for interpersonal communication with connections outside of work
- You can depend fully on yourself to organize your day
- You can focus and remain productive without direct supervision
- You have the tools – both mental and technical – to keep you connected to your employer and/or coworkers
While these may seem like simple questions, it’s easy to take for granted the role that “going to work” plays in providing the structure crucial to productivity and well-being.
In addition, working remotely comes with a host of both advantages and disadvantages – often lifestyle dependent – which you need to carefully consider and analyze as they pertain to you.
The Pros of Remote Work:
In many instances, remote work affords you the ability to:
- Set your own schedule – Want a start the day with your favorite book? Feel like streaming HBO Go at noon on Tuesday? In most cases, provided you’re completing and submitting your tasks on time, you can create a routine that suits you.
- Choose your location – Whether you’re clocking in from the balcony, your favorite coffee shop, or even a new city or country to which you’ve relocated, technology and team communication tools keep you connected in real time.
- Eliminate office drama and distractions – If you’ve ever had the experience of needing to finish a crucial task but coworkers were busy chatting away, then you know the importance of a quiet workspace. Choosing a tranquil setting empowers you to eliminate the distractions of a busy office which can diminish your productivity.
Remote work’s advantages don’t come as a shock. What is surprising, perhaps, is that the most crucial benefits stem from the elimination of a single adversary – the commute.
Research suggests that the added stress from commuting often overshadows, or even prevents the realization of career, financial, and personal gains.
And by eliminating the burden of rush hour, accidents, bad weather, and cramped public transport from your daily routine, you can begin to:
- Reduce stress on the mind and body – Researchers have found correlations between commute time and instances of poor sleep, concentration issues, headaches, digestive problems, high blood pressure, joint problems, and higher rates of infection.
- Enjoy more time for family, friends, and hobbies – Two-thirds of spouses and partners felt equally burdened by a significant other’s commute.
Before getting carried away, though, it’s not all rainbows and unicorns. In fact, for all its perks, remote work comes with a whole new set of challenges which deserve thorough consideration.
The Cons of Remote Work:
- Isolation – Working alone full-time can get lonely (more on that later) so it’s important to take steps to mitigate the isolation. Use a voice and video chat solution to regularly check in with team mates. And use your extra free time to reconnect with family and friends.
- Burnout – Burnout affects us all at some point. While myriad ways exist to relieve it, when your home is your office, separating work from pleasure is an added challenge.
- Underperformance – If you’re the type who thrives from direct supervision or a team environment, remote work could seriously hinder your ability to be productive.
- Limited creative opportunities – The lack of interpersonal communication, “water cooler” moments, and impromptu brainstorming that results from working remotely can limit creative opportunities and leave you feeling further isolated.
Do a cost / benefit analysis. Analyze not only what motivates you to work, but also what’s driving you to work remotely.
If you’re unhappy in your current position, or with your profession in general, the likelihood that remote work will suddenly bring you satisfaction is slim.
Make a list of the pros and cons as they relate to your lifestyle. Discuss your questions and concerns with family, friends, or any contacts who have remote work experience.
Know How to Locate the Right Remote Work Opportunity
Chances are you’ve looked for remote work opportunities and then hit a brick wall. First off, standard job ads on traditional sites like LinkedIn and Glassdoor aren’t your best options for tracking down the right remote job. Moreover, freelancing sites don’t always offer steady and sustainable work. After all, fifty bucks for some consulting here or an article there won’t help you consistently make ends meet.
Rather, hone your search on sites tailored to remote workers, like:
- We Work Remotely – One of the biggest platforms for remote work, We Work Remotely is geared exclusively for remote work. There’s no fee to access the job board and positions span a wide range of fields.
- JustRemote – Launched in 2018, JustRemote is a relatively new platform offering remote positions for developers, marketers, designers, and managers. The site offers both part and full-time positions and is tailored exclusively for remote workers.
- Angellist – Angellist is your go-to if you’re looking for work in a startup. It’s a free site offering remote opportunities, but also location-specific positions. So you’ll have to read carefully.
- Contena – Contena is a platform for those who want to earn a living by writing remotely. It’s a paid site, but in return you get access to both part and full-time opportunities, as well as courses and workshops to help you build a portfolio.
- Flexjobs – Flexjobs is a platform aimed at flexible work, both part and full-time. There are plenty of remote opportunities, but you’ll need to filter your search for that. Flexjobs is a paid site, but does offer a money back guarantee if you’re not satisfied.
If you’re already discussing the possibility of remote work with an employer, hats off! Make sure to do your research, though, not only on similar positions, but also the company. This provides insight into the suitability of remote work for the position in question, as well as an organization’s remote work opportunities.
Be flexible. Some employers may hesitate to let you leap into a full-time remote position right away. If that’s the case, consider a trial period to start things off – working remotely a few days each week or month and gradually building up to a wholly remote schedule
Suggest an enterprise instant messenger to bridge the communication gap which can result from working remotely. In addition to real-time communication features, many platforms offer collaboration tools to help remote workers and distributed teams streamline teamwork.
Maintain Your Drive and Determination
So you’ve landed the perfect remote job. Now what?
For starters, these dos and don’ts can help. But you also need to maintain the same drive and determination which helped you land the opportunity in the first place. Not having a plan in place to manage your newfound freedom can derail motivation and productivity.
Make sure you:
- Define a workspace – A dedicated workspace free of distractions helps in many ways. With all your materials in a dedicated area, not only will you know it’s time for work, but you won’t have to waste time cleaning up when it’s time for lunch, getting set up again, and then doing it all over at day’s end.
- Stock up – Make sure you’ve got sufficient supplies to execute your responsibilities. Think everything from stationary supplies to a computer, printer, and even apps. Whether your employer takes care of this or it falls on you, having supplies handy helps you maximize productivity.
- Set a schedule – Each day when you finish work, make a schedule for the next day. Organize your high-priority tasks first and get them out of the way early. Consider scheduling your breaks, too. Just because you’re working remotely doesn’t mean you’re a machine expected to go non-stop. Apart from scheduling your work, schedule your sleep. Set a specific “sleep deadline” where you have to go to bed regardless of the situation. Research shows that you’ll feel much better getting in (and out) of your remote work weeks as you won’t be overworking yourself every day.
- Dress for success – You may think that one of the benefits of remote work is no longer having to dress for the office. Think again! Designating clothes for work and getting out of your pajamas each day helps put you in a productive mindset.
- Know your peak hours – It may be the case that your employer expects you online during work hours. But if you’re allowed a more flexible schedule, it’s vital that you pinpoint your productive hours and maximize this time for more critical tasks.
Don’t Underestimate the Value of Communication
Remember the cons of remote work? Isolation really shouldn’t be underestimated. According to a recent survey, 19% of remote workers reported feeling lonely. Being interpersonally and, in some cases, informationally isolated can hinder motivation, productivity, and even trigger wider feelings of disconnection, sadness, and depression. If that’s the case, don’t hesitate to seek out a mental health professional.
Vitally, don’t go invisible and don’t let challenges fester. In fact, it’s reasonable to need and expect:
- IT and support-related assistance
- Occasional help with tasks
- Regular information and knowledge sharing
- Small talk and casual conversation
Brosix Instant Messenger, for example, offers instant messaging and team chat rooms to help you forge relationships with your team mates and employer. To communicate on a more personal level, check in often via voice and video chat.
What’s more, pairing real-time communication with collaboration tools like unlimited size file transfer and screen sharing ensures uninterrupted access to knowledge and information and streamlined problem-solving.
Finally, communicating securely via a private team network utilizing peer-to-peer communication channels, end-to-end encryption, and anti-virus and malware protection provides both you and your employer peace of mind against increasing security concerns associated with remote work.
Importantly, these tools can’t, and shouldn’t, replace the human contact vital to your well-being. They can, however, replicate an amount of interpersonal communication to mitigate some of the isolation associated with remote work.
The decision to work remotely isn’t one to be taken lightly. Be prepared to thoroughly analyze whether:
- Your job is suitable for remote work
- Remote work is suitable for you
That includes careful consideration of the pros and cons as they pertain to your specific lifestyle. What’s more, you’ll need to spend time, patience, as well as some trial and error, in order to:
- Locate the right remote work opportunity
- Maintain your drive and determination
Most importantly, don’t underestimate the value of communication, as it plays an invaluable role in ensuring your remote work experience isn’t just meaningful and productive, but also good for your health and well-being.