8 Ways To Know You’re Ready To Be A Remote Worker
(Photo credit: Laura Hoffman, bbx.de)
Earlier this week, FlexJobs released a list of the top 10 international companies for remote jobs. These are companies headquartered outside of the United States that hire people from all over the world. It’s easy to understand the appeal of working from anywhere. You, too, could live in Texas but work for a company in Australia or Beijing.
But remote work isn’t for everyone, and working for a company in another time zone—or even halfway around the globe—may not be the best arrangement for you. How do you know if you’re ready for this kind of work setup, or even if remote work itself is a good idea? Here are some pointers:
You must be a self starter. “You won’t have a boss over you reminding you about deadlines,” says David Bakke, a telecommuting expert with Money Crashers. “That responsibility is yours and yours alone.” If you need the structure of an office setting—or a boss who’s sitting right around the corner—to get you moving, remote work may not be the best idea.
You should understand the work hours. "Some remote jobs still adhere to a fairly strict business hours schedule where you’d be working traditional hours, some allow flexible hours, and some let you set your own hours entirely," says Brie Reynolds, senior career specialist at FlexJobs and Remote.co. "So make sure to ask questions during the interview process to truly understand what your remote work arrangement might be like."
You must be a good communicator. "In a remote work environment, you lose the ability to read people through body language—and people can’t read you that way, either—so you have to communicate clearly and often in order to form solid working relationships with your coworkers," Reynolds says.
You should be content with alone time. “If you’re the kind of person who needs to spend a lot of time thinking through things with the support of others, who truly wants to spend all of her time in a heavy teamwork environment, or who can’t imagine going through the day alone, working from home can seem lonely and disconnected,” says Jill Santopietro Panall, who runs 21 Oak HR Consulting from her home office. “I, personally, am a very social person, and I find that phone calls and client visits fill up the space and provide just enough personal interaction that I don’t go nuts or start getting really weird.”
“The loneliness can be real,” says Denise Supplee, co-founder of SparkRental.com. “There are times when human interaction would be nice. Apart from my snoring bulldog, who comes to my office with me each day, it would be nice to share a joke, get an update from or just say a ‘hello’ to a real human being.”
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You must be focused. “If you find it difficult to ignore cleaning a neglected closet or repainting the trim in your bedroom, or a million other things, you might benefit from the structure that working in an office provides,” says Susan Peppercorn, a career transition coach and CEO of Positive Workplace Partners.
“When I first started working from home for a job I had years ago, my personal to-dos and my professional to-dos got intermingled,” says Jen McPhilimy, head of product and design initiatives at software company Shoobx. “It’s so tempting to just throw in a load of laundry before the next conference call. To compensate for that, I just made my workday longer and longer. The solution for me was to set up a special office area and be very rigorous about being in work mode or home mode.”
You should be comfortable with connectivity tools. “Remote jobs aren’t viable options for those who can’t embrace technology,” says DeLynn Senna, executive director of Robert Half Finance & Accounting. “Audio and video conferencing, instant messaging, and other online meeting tools are making it easier for employees to work from the comfort of a home office or even a coffee shop.”
You must have an understanding partner. “A lot of remote workers struggle with the fact that their partners see them at home and assume they are ‘home,’ so they intrude on their work time and break their flow and concentration,” says Luis Magalhães, a remote executive coach with DistantJob. “This is doubly critical if there are kids in the house.”
You must be on the grid. “Remote work is a bad idea if you have an unreliable internet connection,” Magalhães says. “As romantic as the idea of working from a cottage in the Swiss Alps may be, you probably won’t be able to deliver proper work. And who wants to work when they’re in a cottage in the Swiss Alps?”
— Follow Kate Ashford on Twitter.
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