ReWork’s resident “remote worker” Lauren Batcheck tells it like it is.
It’s no secret that we all work differently, and need different work environments to thrive. That’s why remote work is such a hot topic. The current number of remote workers in the US is increasing dramatically, with more working adults than ever choosing to lose the cubicle for nomadic freedom.
But it’s not for everyone. People want the freedom. People dream about the freedom. But once they achieve it, many realize that it’s not for them — in fact, they might struggle with the change.
I’ve worked remotely (as ReWork’s sole employee in Boulder, CO and now Salt Lake City, UT) for two years, and have met many others on a similar journey. We all agree that it’s not always easy, but it can be extremely rewarding.
If you’re craving the remote work dream, here’s what to consider before jumping in — and how to make the most of a potentially awesome life change!
MAKE SURE YOU’RE SELF-MOTIVATED
Are you good at time management? Are you self-directed? Can you get inspired to do great work, even without your team around?
Being able to self-motivate is the foundation for successful remote work. Not everyone has that quality (and that’s OK). Before jumping in, prove to yourself and your team that you’ll be able to produce the same quality work, with an inspired attitude, no matter where you are. Take some time to try it out and let your team know how it went.
Here at ReWork, our team members start with small amounts of time and ramp up as they learn the ropes of remote work. To support those trials, we’ve implemented a survey system to evaluate how it went, and make sure team members are learning along the way.
MAKE YOURSELF EXTREMELY VALUABLE
Why should your team allow you to live elsewhere? Because you are a total badass at your job. Period. Because despite getting to live and play wherever you want, you also are the best one suited for your role.
The only way to get your team onboard is to prove that they don’t need to constantly look over your shoulder to watch your work streams. Gain that trust by working smarter and showing your value.
FIND YOUR WORK FLOW
Having complete autonomy and flexibility with your schedule means that you need to be smart with your time and energy.
Be sure to separate your work life and your home life. Have some structure in your day — you get to decide what it looks like, but try to stay consistent. And, of course, beware of playing too much (it’s true, this is can be problem, but only if its affecting your productivity!). Your team will notice very quickly if your work quality and performance decreases.
On the other hand, make sure to include play in your day! It can be easy to work through meals or sit in bed with your computer late at night, which is not good for anyone.
BE PROACTIVE, NOT REACTIVE
In startup world, everyone and everything is growing all the time. Even though you’re away from your team, make sure you’re growing, too.
Don’t wait for assignments to come from HQ. Keep a pulse on the rate of evolution of the company. Utilize your autonomy and freedom to explore new growth opportunities. Set your own goals and get after them. Present those to your mentor or leader at work, and be several steps ahead.
VISIT YOUR TEAMMATES
You need to feel like a real person to the rest of the team, not just a cyborg off in the interwebs. The rest of your team is together every day and they know the ins and outs of each other’s work and non-work lives. Humans need to feel belonging and relationship, especially when working towards the same goals.
Visit in-person often and earn that team camaraderie. Build empathy and trust — it is essential to survive, and thrive, working within any team. Additionally, as a remote worker, you need to feel as though you belong on this team. You need to feel connected and involved in their lives too.
Finally, be ready for, and okay with, missing out on fun team outings. It will happen!
WATCH OUT FOR CABIN FEVER
No matter what people tell you, do not work from your house every day. While this may sound like a great idea, after years of commuting, trust me, it’s not. It’s great with moderation, but working within the same four walls where you cook and sleep is a dangerous concoction for cabin fever, loneliness, and limited ability to separate work and life. Join a co-working space, or become a regular at a coffee shop where you can have connection with real life people instead of Slack and Google Chat.
Remote working can be the best, but it’s important to have the right expectations (and preparation!) going in. Give it proper consideration, and if you can, try it out. Work out a trial period with your employer and travel somewhere to work remotely for a short period of time. See if it jives well with your personality and work style. Most importantly, be ready to learn, adapt, and grow in a new (exciting!) chapter of your work life!