Artisan Blog

5 Ways to Know if Working Remotely Works for You

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Telecommuting is quickly becoming less of a trend and more of the norm. In fact, 37% of U.S. workers say they're done it! Part of this is the practicality of the modern workplace -- for many positions, it's not necessary to be in an office. And for many workers, maintaining a healthy work-life balance is preferable to a higher salary.

So, where would you like to work? At your home office, or on the sofa? What about in a co-working space or a coffee shop? You might think that telecommuting would make a great part of your daily work routine, but it takes a surprising amount of self-discipline, concentration, and effort. See if working remotely is right for you by asking these five questions:

  1. Can you communicate well online or via video chat? Interacting with a team in-person is very different from being online. You need multiple communications tools to connect. If you feel like email is the only way to get in touch, you need to shake it up and practice communicating with instant messaging, video conferences, and teamwork platforms like Slack and Asana. Get comfortable using these technologies, and know when it's best to hop on the phone. One last thing: if you can't be available when everyone else is, you'll either have to work twice as hard to stay on top of what's happening, or need to connect more often to stay abreast of changes.

  2. Are you able to initiate conversations and projects? You can't be shy when you work remotely! Starting conversations with your co-workers or manager so you can get the ball rolling on projects is necessary. And if you're a manager, it can be hard to be present and available when telecommuting. You'll need to reach out to team members regularly, and set very clear goals and expectations, as well as offer support from afar.

  3. Can you be a great team player without seeing the team? Since you won't be interacting with colleagues in the breakroom or over lunch, you need to think about how you reach out and connect to co-workers. This means having team calls to catch up, setting up video conferences to brainstorm ideas, or scheduling virtual lunch dates. You may also have to boost team engagement by recreating "water cooler" conversation. Ask about personal topics like vacation plans or what was on TV last night.

  4. Do you have a great task management system in place? Many telecommuters report they are just as productive as on-site employees, but poor management and engagement could mean telecommuting doesn't work for a company -- or for you! A lack of oversight can lead to major issues later. If you're working as part of a team, talk to your manager about what work productivity really means, and how to prove it. If you're a manager, make sure your team understands those goals, and hold them accountable. And if you struggle with personal responsibility, working remotely may not be the best option for you.

  5. Is it possible to still meet occasionally? Okay, the whole point of telecommuting...is to not go into the office! But if you're working for a company that's located in the same city as you, it can't hurt to visit the office now and then. This way, you can review things like quarterly goals or evaluate projects with the whole team at once, and then get back to work. Think of it as a fun way to catch up with people, too! Try to schedule a happy hour or some kind of after work activity so you bond and get to know the people you're working with online.

Flexible work hours bring a specific set of challenges, but also many rewards! The needs of working remotely vary from those of the traditional office, so as long as you keep in mind these ideas, you'll be able to keep your team engaged and motivated.


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