Many people say, “I want to work remotely”. They dream of a flexible work-life balance and the ability to determine when, where and how they work. There’s just one thing stopping them: their current job. Too often, we look at our current situation and see no way of changing it. Our jobs have always been done this way, so that’s the way that they have to be done - right? They’re set in their traditional ways, beholden to a strict 9-5 schedule and confined to the four walls of a conventional office. You might love your job, but crave the flexible lifestyle that you know is attainable. Maybe you feel like it’s time to update your resume and begin the search for a new position...
Not so fast! Today, many jobs can be done, if not fully, then at least partially remotely. Thanks to advances in technology, it’s possible to create digital workspaces in ways that would have been thought impossible even twenty years ago. So much of our work can be done online using the Cloud and digital collaboration tools, from anywhere with a great WiFi connection.
To determine if you’re capable of doing your current job remotely, there are a few questions that you’ll need to ask yourself.
Take some time to reflect on your current position and your day-to-day activities. Before answering the following questions, create an image in your mind of what your role looks like. Are your days structured or more fluid? Is your calendar filled with meetings or do you have large blocks of time to work? Are you in a casual environment or is it a bit more corporate? Hold this picture in your mind as you run through the questions below. Don’t worry if you can’t answer ‘yes’ to every question - there is some wiggle room here!
For practical purposes, it’s great if you can already confirm that you can do at least 80% of your professional tasks from a computer or phone. Do you spend most of your time working on a computer? Is your work dependent on a great WiFi connection? Do you conduct most of your sales communication over email or phone conversations? Remote work is possible as a result of advances in modern technology. How can you use these tools to get your workload up to 80% digital if it’s not quite there yet.
Are most of your meetings internal with the same group of people? As much as you like to chat with your coworkers in person, is it possible for you to have the same level of collaboration and accomplish the same tasks over a video call? If members of your team are meeting in person, is it possible for them to dial you in for the brainstorm or announcement? To ensure that you’re still an effective team member over a video call, make it a point to stay off of mute and contribute to the conversation often. As a fully-distributed company ourselves, we’ve found that video calls can sometimes be even more intimate than an in-person meeting, as everyone is engaged and focused on the task at hand.
This is one of the most important aspects to consider when you’re interested in working remotely. Without your boss a few doors down, it will be your responsibility to ensure that you’re minimizing distractions and being productive throughout the day. Remote workers find that they must bring it upon themselves to determine the tasks that need to get done each day, and set their own priorities when it comes to projects and last-minute requests. A great remote worker will put systems in place to transparently track their progress and pursue their goals with as much passion as they would in a traditional office environment.
The backbone of any successful remote work agreement is the trust between a manager and an employee. Without this mutual understanding, it is difficult for a manager to rely on the employee to do a high-quality job, and vice versa. If it’s apparent that a manager does not have confidence in their employee, it’s difficult for a remote employee to perform without constantly looking over their shoulder.
That’s why we recommend that you consider your standing in the company before you ask your boss if you can work remotely. Have you been able to repeatedly excel in your role? Does your manager rely on you in high-pressure situations and trust you when there is a lot at stake? If you can reasonably say that you are one of the top performers on your team, or in your entire company, then it’s more likely that remote work could be an option for you. Your performance sends a signal to your managers (and their managers) that you are trustworthy and committed to the success of the company, which means that it will be more reasonable for them to allow you to work with more autonomy.
This is an integral question to ask yourself if the details of your role frequently require an urgent response. As a remote employee, you may not be able to get in contact with your manager as quickly as you’re used to. Now that you’re not an office away from your boss, will you be able to do your job as effectively? Does your manager need to sign off on the majority of the decisions you make or are you fairly autonomous? Before asking if you can work remotely, observe yourself over the course of a week and see how many times you need to consult your manager in order to tackle the regular duties associated with your role. If you catch yourself needing approval more than once a day, every day, you may want to consider ways in which you can prove yourself trustworthy enough to make more decisions without their direct input.
Now that you’ve done a lot of self-reflection, take a deep breath. If you ran through the above list without hesitation, smiling as you began to realize that this dream could actually become a reality, we have news for you. You have already taken the first step toward working remotely by doing the research. Dig a little bit deeper into what remote work could look like for you, compile a business case for why it would benefit not only your work, but the company overall, then get ready to talk to your boss.
Psst. If you need help, feel free to Schedule a Call with a program consultant and they can put you in touch with our Enterprise Solutions Team!