Starting a Remote Job? What You Need to Know (from a remote worker herself)
So, you’ve just been hired to work remotely. Congratulations! You’re joining the growing number of professionals opting to work either from home or at a coworking space. You’ll probably feel happier and more valued at this job, considering most remote workers do, and you’ll most likely get more accomplished during the day, along with 91% of other remote workers. However, this freedom to work where you want comes with its own set of challenges, some you may not have anticipated.
Here’s a guide to get you up and running (well, running to your home office, not out the door) and feeling confident before your first day.
Creating Home Office Boundaries
If you’re the first of your friends or family to work from home be prepared to explain exactly what working remotely really means. You’re going to get questions from all angles, and people may not immediately respect that you’re getting things done. Your spouse may ask you to run errands during the day, or your roommates might expect you to be home to sign for their UPS package. While you can agree to do these things, just because you work remotely doesn’t mean you automatically absorb all household responsibilities. It’s important to set expectations up front. Remember, it’s also okay to turn down lunch offers from your non-working friends, and remind your kids that when the home office door is closed that they shouldn’t enter except for emergencies.
Setting Your Remote Work Schedule
If you’re given the opportunity to set your own hours take advantage of it! Consider what type of work you do and when you think you work best. Sometimes that means getting up early and taking a break mid-day to run errands and then resuming your work later on in the afternoon. Or maybe you prefer to start your day at noon and work through the evening.
The beauty of this freedom is you can optimize your day to be the most productive version for you. People’s preferences of when they get the most work done widely varies, which is why the traditional 9-to-5 workday isn’t always a perfect fit for everyone. However, keep in mind you’ll need to be available to your team if they’re still keeping traditional business hours.
Dressing for a Remote Workday
While yes, working in pajama pants and the shirt you slept in is appealing, I have found I am most productive when I get ready each day. While this doesn’t mean you need to be office-appropriate, changing out of what you rolled out of bed in somehow puts your mind in “I’m working” mode. Making this small effort in the morning is a way to show respect to yourself and your job.
Preventing Loneliness When Working From Home
This is one of those uncomfortable topics that no one likes to talk about. If you came from a traditional office environment, you’re likely used to the everyday interactions you had with your colleagues and other workers in your organization more than you realize. These little interactions here and there may not have been a big deal to you, but trust me when I say you’ll miss them when they’re gone. You may enjoy the silence at first, and the lack of having to politely interact with coworkers who used to gab about their strange weekend behavior. But the silence will soon creep in, and it can be deafening.
To avoid becoming a hermit, it is up to you to outwardly seek social interaction. As a working adult, this can be harder than it seems. If you have a solid social circle, call up a friend for lunch once a week or give them a call on their commute home. Or plan to attend a mid-day workout class with a partner. If you are in search of finding friends, try attending a Meetup event or join a local coworking space part-time. Incorporating these regular opportunities to interact with others will feel natural and is a healthy way to balance the isolation of working from home.
Combating Distractions of Your Home Office
While the jabbering of Jacob in the next cubicle over or the clacking of Carrie’s stilettos may be gone once you move home, the distractions are not. You’ll be faced with new annoyances that you must learn to ignore. There won’t be a manager standing between you and last night’s recorded episode of Game of Thrones, or that mounting pile of dishes in the sink. You need to be your own disciplinary figure, and do what you need to avoid these situations all together. Having a separate workstation away from other rooms is a good place to start, and if necessary try enabling an app like FocusBooster to better regulate your day. Working remotely will definitely test your self-discipline, but you can work on this skill if you’re still struggling.
Working remotely is a privilege that many would like to have (just ask your friends), but with this privilege comes a greater responsibility, one that will get easier with time. I have found personally I get more done, and am happier overall with the freedom to set my own schedule and work from where I want. Take this opportunity to create a work environment that truly enables you to be the best employee you can, and gives you the freedom to have a healthier relationship with your job. There will probably be a time period in the beginning where you’re figuring out what works best for you while satisfying your company’s needs, and that’s okay. However, even with the potential struggles, I think you’ll find the challenges are almost always outweighed by the rewards.