· remote

How To Start Working Remotely?

I first came across the notion of remote work when I was in college. I’m neither an extrovert not a complete introvert but somewhere in the middle. Right away I knew that remote work is for me and I want to do it. Even when I tried, it was not very easy to land a paid remote job. I had to do a full-time office for the first 20 months of my career and remote work clicked for me when I was going through the worst phase of my personal and professional life. My name is Ankit and I run ClassAndObjects.com, I’ve been doing remote now for more than 3 years and here is my take on it.

Today COVID19 has given us all a taste of remote work and some of us will like to continue doing this after things get back to normal. If you believe remote is not for you I still suggest that you read through this article. As we progress I will clearly bring out what’s not great about remote so that you can make your choice with better clarity. So before delaying any further let’s get started.

What is remote work?

“Remote work can be defined as working from anywhere in the world without having to worry about commuting to the physical office.”

Many people confuse remote work to be freelancing but that’s not true. Remote is only the independence of location. You can still be a full-time employee, an independent contract or a freelancer. The remote aspect of your job is only about working from anywhere you find suitable.

Who all can work remotely?

Anyone who has a desk job which involves working over the internet for the majority of their time can move to working remote. The tech industry has been the first and most successful in adopting the strategy but sales, marketing, support and many other cogs of a company are gradually embracing remote. Please note that there are different challenges for each role when you adapt to the location independent aspect of the work.

How is remote different from onsite?

Now that you are not physically present in the office and the manager or the stakeholder needs to quantify if the work you are doing meets the expected output, it gets hard. With physical presence, managers have a visual cue to judge who is acting busy and who is not. This can be a good thing or a bad thing depending on who is reading. But overall with remote, you will be judged solely on your output. As managers have no other way to know what’s going on with you.

Company culture

Remote works best with mutual trust. If your company has a culture of micromanagement and fine-grained control and trust issues then remote might not be for this workplace sadly. The processes will need reform otherwise it can feel worse than working from the physical office. Your enjoying/not-enjoying the remote work will very much be decided by this aspect of your company culture.

Great communication

If you want to enjoy remote working, learn to communicate and communicate effectively. As Spiderman once said, “With great power comes great responsibility”, so is the case with remote. As you and your colleagues get to work from anywhere, anytime, from any country, in any time zone. As an office goer we are used to nudging people anytime they are around and asking for help/feedbacks but that will need to change. Remember not everyone is working when you are working and thus you need to communicate asynchronously while not getting blocked and not blocking others.

Team members now can’t see for themselves what you are working on so during meeting it’s your responsibility to ensure that everyone understands what you are working on. You also need to communicate if there are any dependency and future blocks that you see. The team would then align to make sure that everyone has enough to work efficiently.

Life-Work balance

You are now staying at a place that is not your office and it’s very very easy to get pulled. Pets, kids, spouse, parents and 3000 different things will demand your attention. When you were in the office environment you were protected by an invisible shield that didn’t allow these 3000 things to bother you but with the current flexibility, you lose that protection. It’s your responsibility now to create a smaller personal bubble that would in effect work as the time way.

In starting breaking out time for work and personal activity would seem wasteful but it will come to haunt you eventually. If you fail to create the silo you will end up with either of the two cases. You are always working throughout the day and have no time left for yourself. Or you will not perform to the best of your ability and not be productive as was expected of you. These are both very fucked up scenarios. So it’s better you have a fix slots where you are working and create less trouble down the road.

Reduced social interaction

Believe it or not, when working remote your social interactions will reduce significantly. In an office, we meet and talk to so many people but with remote you are generally on your own. Tools like Slack and Zoom helps but they can go only so far. For many people including me, this is the saddest aspect of working remote. You might want to consider this before making a choice. Though I compensate for this by travelling frequently with friends and solo to keep the fire alive. YMMV.

Are you remote ready?

Now that we know what it looks like to be a remote being what do you think? If you want to try remote then I’ll be doing another post shortly where I share how I find remote jobs. The approach and the platform I use with some useful tips. Thank you for your time. :)

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