Is Remote Work Right for You?

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You’re reading an excerpt of The Holloway Guide to Remote Work, a book by Katie Wilde, Juan Pablo Buriticá, and over 50 other contributors. It is the most comprehensive resource on building, managing, and adapting to working with distributed teams. Purchase the book to support the author and the ad-free Holloway reading experience. You get instant digital access, 800 links and references, a library of tools for remote-friendly work, commentary and future updates, and a high-quality PDF download.

Is Remote Work Right for You?

Common questions covered here
What are the challenges of working from home?
Do people get lonely working from home?

You need to know what triggers your productivity, what distracts you, and what makes you feel anxious or focused. It’s also important to maintain social interactions, so warn your friends that they may receive some additional attention or that sometimes you will need their attention. Remote work is not only a job you do for your company, but also a job for your own personal growth.Vytis Marčiulionis, Email Deliverability Manager, Emarsys*

Remote work has many benefits for self-motivated, disciplined employees, and it’s a popular choice: 98% of respondents to the 2020 Buffer remote work survey said they want to work outside an office at some point in their career. For many of us, remote working is both a logical and a fulfilling choice—greater flexibility, more control over where and when to work, and closeness to family are powerful incentives.

At the same time, it’s important to understand what you’re taking on. There are unique demands that come with working outside a traditional office environment, and being prepared for those challenges will allow you to develop the right skills and approach to find success as a remote worker.

Laurel Farrer, a remote working strategist, provides a set of recommendations for the most important remote work skills. You may be a good fit for remote work if you can answer “yes” to the following questions:

  • Trust. Are you going to fulfill expectations without direct supervision?

  • Communication. Can you accurately convey and interpret the who, what, when, where, why, and how of messages and assignments?

  • Empathy. Are you aware and considerate of others’ feelings? Can you work as a team, even when you don’t see each other regularly?

  • Critical Thinking. Can you independently analyze, evaluate, and strategize an issue?

  • Autonomy. Can you confidently take initiative without being prompted or rewarded?

  • Flexibility. Can you adapt to and accurately prioritize the impact of changes to your goals or your company’s and team’s needs?

Some remote workers will already possess excellent skills in some of these areas, while others will learn over time. Even if you don’t already have all of these skills, they’re not innate and immutable—you can learn them from training, effort, and experience. It’s helpful to evaluate the areas where you may have gaps in your knowledge and approach, then seek out opportunities for improvement.

Ultimately, your success as a remote employee depends on several areas:

Key Strategies for Remote Working

If you want to set yourself up for success in remote working, there are several approaches or frameworks you can use that will get you off to an excellent start. We cover each of these approaches briefly below, and we’ve linked to relevant sections to help you put them into practice.

Establishing a Routine

The traditional office environment provides an important structure for employees—when you’re expected to be at work, where you work from, built-in connections with peers and managers, and more. One of the biggest surprises for new remote workers is how this structure almost completely disappears once they’re not in the office anymore. The way that you communicate, receive, and share information becomes one step removed, and it’s just that little bit more difficult to get attention from others.

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