Are You Cut Out for Remote Work?
Many of us dream about working from home. Of course, there are certain hospitality jobs that can never be remote (chef, waiter, housekeeping, etc.), but jobs involving sales, reservations, customer service and IT can be successfully done from home. How do you know if you are the type of person that will thrive in that environment?
Some Things to Consider
- Does your job lend itself to working remotely? And what’s your motivation for working from home? Are you facing a difficult commute, are you doing this to have more time at home with your children, or are you interested in working part time? Figure out why you’re pursuing this work environment and if it’s a practical choice.
- Do you have a suitable work setup that’s private, with no distractions? Is there somewhere you can work that allows you to shut the door, get into the mindset of “going to work,” follow a routine and stay focused? And are you able to avoid getting distracted by doing laundry, starting dinner, doing dishes or watching TV?
- Can you work solo, without being able to walk down the hall to chat with a co-worker or ask a question? It helps to be a bit introverted as well as a self-starter. Your boss will still be involved, of course, but can you do what needs to be done without constant supervision?
- Are you a strong communicator? Since you’re not at work with everyone else, you have to communicate clearly when you share information or have a question. If you’re struggling with a customer or are having trouble solving a problem, you’ll need to engage with others clearly and efficiently.
- Are you tech savvy? You won’t have your IT team on-site and while you can always call for assistance, it makes sense that you be able to solve some of your computer issues yourself. Your productivity will suffer if you are constantly having computer problems, can’t connect to the network or a conference call.
- Are you a good goal-setter? Having clear goals and an action plan is a must. You have to be focused every day on getting certain things accomplished in a timely way. If you’re taking breaks all the time, watching TV or getting distracted with chores, you won’t be successful in a remote job.
- Can you realistically separate your home life from your work life? One of the dangers of working from home is not knowing when to shut down the computer and close the door. Because your work is just steps away, it’s easy to check email or do “one more thing” in the evenings or on the weekends when you should be done with work. If you are unable to separate from your work, you may burn out quickly.
- Are you good at prioritizing “urgent” vs “important” communications? When you work from home, you’ll likely be online with a chat or instant message app as well as email and phone communications. You need to manage the urgency of those messages so you’re not constantly interrupted.
Tips for making it Work
According to Casey Putschoegl, Managing Partner at 33Vincent (they provide email management, travel planning, customer service, project/event management, etc.), there are 4 cornerstones of a great remote worker:
1. The Right Mindset: They’re realistic about discipline and what it takes to work remotely. They’re all about output and not “busyness,” and are great at self-accountability.
2. Purposeful Connection: They are intentional in the communications with their team, really good at “managing up,” and making sure being “remote” is not the same as being “invisible.”
3. Proactive and Strategic Approach: They have a proactive (not reactive) approach to their workload, creating systems and processes that make it easier to accomplish tasks. They set good boundaries with those who may not see “working remotely” as a work commitment and manage their time effectively.
4. Conducive Environment: They understand how to “turn it off” at the end of the day and value their own needs – no skipping lunch, forgetting to take breaks or drinking tons of coffee. They have proper child care services and may even work from a virtual office or co-worker space.
If you have the personality and space to work effectively from home, it can be a very flexible and liberating approach. But it’s not a fit for everyone: knowing yourself, your skills and what it takes to be successful will go a long way toward helping you decide if it’s the right choice for you.