Last year, out of the blue, my significant other got a job offer in Southern California that he couldn’t refuse. He asked if I wanted to move and I thought, “Why not? I only live once.” Besides, I looked deep inside and knew I’d regret it if I didn’t go—but that’s a different blog post for a different site.
The problem was, I loved my job, loved working with my new boss, and enjoyed my co-workers and the creative team I managed. I didn’t want to leave my job. I was thrilled that my boss felt the same way. He said he didn’t want to lose me and he would try to make a remote arrangement work.
It’s been over a year since I went remote and I now consider myself a semi-expert on the entire remote working gig. At the very least, I can offer up lessons learned to help you, the next remote worker, who is looking for practical advice on how to make working off-site a positive, productive experience.
Below are a few things to be aware of if you are thinking of working remotely.
Here are the downsides:
It’s lonely at times. I miss the office. I miss drinks after work and the fun banter in the halls. You’re not going to have that anymore if you’re working from home.
People forget you and how important you are to the office. Out of sight out of mind—I guess that’s why my partner wanted me to move to LA with him. It’s the same way in the office. It’s takes a lot of work to stay connected and it’s all up to you.
You miss out on those plum assignments. You can’t stop in’ office and chat, exchange ideas and get that assignment you’ve been eyeing.
Your boss won’t know how hard you’re working. As much as a remote worker may want to think otherwise, it’s up to you to maintain a healthy, communicative relationship with the home office. If you don’t, your boss may think you’re slacking, even if you’re not. You have to work harder and let the home office know about it. I hate tooting my own horn, but it’s a must when working remotely.
Here are the upsides:
Yes, of course, there’s no commute. And let me tell you that staying off the California freeways at any time is a beautiful thing. I also have more time to work since I’m not commuting. I come to work without being stressed from the freeways.
You are mostly away from office gossip. That cheeky gal in the office down the hall that’s been backstabbing you for the last year might be working covertly while you’re in your home office; but most likely since you’re not there, she’s moved onto another victim. Rejoice. The hours you’re free from the gossip circulating at the home office are productive, stress-free hours.
You can dress down. Wear that comfy T-shirt you got from the Pat Metheny concert in 1992, except during those Skype meetings, where you need to look your best. Most days you can throw on the sweatshirt and yoga pants and get to work.
You move from a body in the chair to project completion. Old-school managers may think having a warm body in a chair means you’re working. When working remotely, you are judged by the work you produce, not how long you’re in the office. That’s a good thing (if you’re actually producing work).
You have more quiet time. Since I’m an introvert, stretches of quiet time give me the space to think of new ideas, work without interruption, write brilliant blog posts and get better at my craft of writing. That’s good for the company and for me.
Tune in to my next blog post for tips to help you be a successful remote employee.