What does it mean to work remotely?
Working remotely is a work situation where an employee carries out their work responsibilities from home and communicate with their team via email, video and voice calls, and instant messaging. Employees may choose to work from home to save on commuting expenses, to work out of the comfort of their own home, or because they live in a different location entirely than their company. Some startups have entirely remote or “distributed” teams including companies like Aha, Invision, and Buffer.
Whether you’re looking to find a remote job or simply hoping that your current boss will start letting you work from home, working remotely, at least some of the time, is almost everyone’s dream. Sure, there are many who would say that they work better in a structured office environment, but many would love the choice to work from home or a local coffee shop here or there.
But while a remote job might be your dream, how on earth does one get one of those? Or harder yet, if you’re working a regular 9-5, how do you convince your boss to start letting you stay home?
Here are a few of the tips we’ve found that might help you pop the question to your boss or help you find a new work from home gig.
What type of job can you do from home?
First, it should probably go without saying that you’ll need a job that can relatively easily be done from anywhere. If you work mainly from your computer, then you’re probably good to go.
Here are a few great jobs you can do working from home:
- Digital marketing
- Writing jobs
- Web or graphic design
- Engineering and IT roles
- Sales representatives
- Customer service and support
- Account management
How to get a remote job
Of course, unless you’re a freelancer, it probably won’t be easy to get your very first remote job unless you’ve had your fair share of experience working from home in the past (and were good at it). So let’s talk about a few ways you can enter the world of remote work:
One simple way to gain experience working from home is, you guessed it, becoming a freelancer. The nice thing about freelancing, of course, is that you determine your own schedule, work load, and clientele. The downside is lack of job security, you’re on your own when it comes to finding clients, and it difficult to start out with little experience. However, if you are able to build a productive work ethic while doing some freelance jobs (whether that’s your full time gig or you do it on the side) experience freelancing can be a great way to help convince your boss that you’re able to bring your work home with you.
Prove that you’re an excellent communicator
While working remotely has its share of upsides, one downside is that it can be difficult to communicate with and stay in sync with your team. Before you begin to look for remote work or ask your boss if you can work from home more often, you’ll need to demonstrate that you’re an excellent communicator. Make sure that you respond quickly to all emails and office chat communications. Make it a point to be at every meeting you’re expected to attend (this shouldn’t change when working remotely).
When a company called Bynder decided to test a “Remote Week” for all of their employees, this is what they said about communication during that time: “A sizeable number of our employees felt the key to building trust with team members was to communicate and be readily available… Our employees also felt daily virtual meetups and regular check-ins were essential, and served as an alternative for the invaluable face time that usually occurs in the office every day.”
It requires a lot of trust for a manager to let an employee work remotely and that trust won’t come without earning it. Use your regular office time to first prove that you’re an excellent communicator and readily available, then put it to the test during a trial run (more on that below).
Stay organized and be accountable
As important as it is to keep the lines of communication open while working remotely, it won’t matter one bit if your work goes untouched. Before pitching the idea of working from home to your boss, come up with a plan for how you intend to stay organized and hold yourself accountable with your new found freedom. Offer to have weekly sync-ups with your manager to get on the same page about your work for the week. Then, have another sync-up at the end of the week to talk about what got done, what didn’t, and why. Whether or not your team already has ways of staying accountable week by week, your boss will probably like the initiative you took to come up with a game plan despite whether or not they allow you to actually work from home.
Do a work from home trial run
Whether you’d simply like to work from home a couple days a week or find a new remote job, you’re going to need to build up a good track record of being able to stay on task even when no one’s watching. Have a conversation with your boss and let them know that you’re interested in working from home more often. Ask them if it would be ok, for about a month or so, to work from home every Friday. At the end of that time, ask your boss for feedback on how they thought you did communicating with your team and getting your work done. Then, you may potentially have better reason to ask for more work-from-home time, or simply to make WFH Friday’s more permanent.
Whether or not you’re simply hoping to work from home more often or find a completely remote position, it takes a lot of groundwork to build up trust with your employer. If you’re able to prove that you’re an effective employee no matter where you’re working and you have the gear and tech that’ll help you communicate consistently, then the doors of the remote working world are wide open for you.
Have you ever worked remotely? What were some struggles you faced while working from home? What were your favorite parts? Leave your thoughts in the comments below and share with a friend who dreams of working at their kitchen table.