Achieving Remote Success
Taking care of a day’s work, all while staying in your pajamas. There’s a reason many want to know how to work remotely. You can be comfortable at home, spend time with loved ones, rock your favorite gym shorts all day—the list goes on and on. With 65% of surveyed workers saying remote work would boost their productivity and 61% saying loud coworkers are their biggest distraction, there’s a lot of incentive for companies to have remote workers as well.
Yet, only 19% of people are allowed to work remotely. And not only this, working remotely poses a ton of new challenges for employers and employees alike.
Building a Case for Working Remotely
So, how’s a worker bee supposed to go about getting approved for a remote position?
In a nutshell, you need to build a compelling case that sells your employer or superior(s) on the idea of you working remotely. Remote work is still a fairly new mainstream concept, so many employers are hesitant to let their employees work from home. Because of this, you need to put a lot of thought into how you present the topic to your boss or employer.
Here are several key steps that can get you started on the path to that sweet remote life.
Note: For those of you already working remotely or looking to jump straight into a remote or telecommute position, click here to jump to the second part of the article.
Phase 1: Research Your Position and Industry
Before you get too deep into daydreaming about working in your pajamas with a cat in your lap, it’s important to see what kind of success others in your role are having with working remotely. Do some digging online and see what percentage of people in your role are working remotely, how many companies have retracted the ability to work remote for these types of workers, and so on.
This information can be difficult to come by, so you may have to find statistics about similar roles or simply look at the industry as a whole. For example, if you’re a copywriter for a health insurance company, you might have trouble finding info on that exact role. Instead, see how many people in the health insurance industry telecommute, or how many general copywriters are working remotely.
When hunting for this information, make sure you’re using reliable sources. Sites generally wind up on the second page of Google for a reason—the information is lacking or inaccurate/dated. Stick to the first page and research the sites giving you information before using any of it to build a case.
Also, if you have an emarketer.com Pro Login, this can be an invaluable resource. They have a wealth of stats on everything, all of which is carefully vetted and very reliable. If you don’t have an emarketer.com Pro Login, forget it — it’s insanely expensive.
Phase 2: List the Productivity and Financial Benefits
This one can be tricky, as remote work is still a growing trend and the research around it is all fairly new or inconclusive. BUT, there are still studies that show employees are generally happier and more productive when given the option to work remotely. Cite these when presenting your case, as this shows there’s an incentive for the employer when letting you work remotely as well.
If you’re hoping to get approval to work remotely full-time, there’s also the added bonus of your desk space being freed up. This space can be used for another employee or be turned into a flex space for meetings, training, etc.
While it could be a case of biting off more than you can chew, you can always point out that allowing enough people to work remotely can free up enough space to allow part of the office to be leased out to another business.
There’s also the added benefit of you not using any office resources. By working remotely, you’re no longer chomping away at office snacks, using the office plumbing, electricity, and so on. While not much on a day-by-day basis, these little things can add up over time. If you’re a real pain in the ass in the office, there’s also that added bonus.
Phase 3: Create a Communication Plan for When You’re Remote
Among the many reasons employers fear letting their employees work remotely, communication and lack of collaboration are at the top of the list. While these would have been perfectly valid points ten years ago, online communication has come a long way.
Skype, Slack, and other VOIP and online communication services have enabled remote workers to stay in touch with their coworkers from anywhere in the world. This has paved the way for online collaboration and ensured communication is never hindered, in office or not.
When building your case for remote approval, create a plan to use Skype, Slack, or whichever service your employer uses. State that you will be available during office hours if required, and that you will respond to messages in a timely manner. It also never hurts to mention that you will check in with your boss or leadership team every day, keeping them in the loop on your projects.
This kind of agreement can assuage the fears of your employer and also show them you’re holding yourself accountable. It can suck to be forced to work normal office hours when remote, but even that can be changed eventually if you do well enough.
Presenting Your Case for Remote Work
Armed with your information and stat-filled case, it’s time to talk to the appropriate leadership members.
Request a meeting about working remotely, and let them know you have some information for them to consider. This will let them know you’re not going to waste their time by simply asking, but that you’ve seriously considered the topic and done your homework.
Once you’re sitting down with your boss, be open-minded and prepare yourself for a “no.” It’s unlikely you’ll get approval right away. Even if you get rejected, you’ve opened the lines of communication and at least planted the idea in their head. Also, by doing your homework and presenting a proper case, you’ve shown them you’re serious and that you’ve done the proper homework on how to work remotely.
If your request for working remotely has been shot down, continue to communicate effectively and show them you’re trustworthy. Keep in mind that allowing workers to telecommute is a huge show of trust on the employer’s part.
While it ultimately comes down to the employer and company, being consistently reliable and occasionally bringing up the subject of working remotely can make a difference. At the very least, you’ve learned about how your profession fares in the remote world, and you have a compelling case to make to your next employer.
Succeeding in a Remote Role
Congratulations! You’re a remote worker! Welcome to the sweet life of working in gym shorts, using your own bathroom, and blasting your music.
But wait, before you get too carried away, stop!
If you’ve just been approved to work remotely, nothing will get that perk taken away quicker than doing poorly. And if you’ve just started a fully-remote job, nothing will get you replaced faster than failing in that role.
To avoid going back to the unappealing desk life, there are some steps you need to follow to increase your chances of success.
Step 1: Establish a Home Office
“But I thought the entire point of working remotely was to escape the office?”
Okay, so you don’t want to build a drab cubicle in your living room and surround yourself with petty gossip and bad coffee. But, your success as a remote worker depends on you being able to focus and be productive.
Create a home office that you find pleasant. Whether it’s a mahogany-laden room that smells of manliness and cigars, or simply a comfy spot on your couch, your home office should be a space where you can be productive. This ties in with step two…
Step 2: Avoid Distractions
Your home office will do you no good if you’re constantly distracted by that giant green lizard running across the patio. The other day he almost got this wasp, but the little bastard flew off just before he could –
See how easy that is?
The productivity benefits of being remote go right out the window if you’re always distracted. Make sure your workspace is a place you can focus and take care of business. Once you’re caught up, feel free to go gawk at the National Geographic special taking place in your backyard.
Step 3: Go Above and Beyond with Communication
When working remotely, it can be easy to feel like you’re all alone and not a part of the team. Similarly, it can be easy for your employer to feel like you’re slacking off or totally off the grid.
Make sure you stick to a communication regiment. When you start working in the morning, send your manager and teammates a greeting. Also, let them know what you’re working on to add more transparency. Lastly, remind them you’re there to help with any emergencies or projects that come up.
Not only will this communication remind your employer you exist, it will help you feel like a part of the team—because you are!
Step 4: Be Consistent
As a remote worker you will have good days and you will have bad days, much like working in an office. While less productive days are inevitable, make sure you’re always consistent with the quality of your work.
Don’t let your performance suffer as a result of your remote status. Instead, go above and beyond. This will let your employer know they made the right choice approving your remote status, or hiring you as a remote worker in the first place.
If you have a REALLY bad day and don’t get much done, try and knock some extra work out in the evening, or early in the morning.
Step 5: Create a Routine
If you choose to follow only one of these steps, make it this one:
Create a routine and stick to it.
Working from home comes with tons of freedom, including the freedom to get REALLY distracted. Creating a routine can help ensure you stay productive and on task.
For example, force yourself to wake up at the same time every morning. Follow this with coffee and breakfast, or a light workout if that’s your thing. Then, hop online and check in with your people and let them know you’re ready to rock and roll.
If you find you’re more productive at a certain time of the day, maybe consider starting your workday then instead. One of the perks of working remotely is that you can model your day around your life, rather than your life around work. Figure out what works best for you and roll with it.
Also, don’t be afraid to carry your routine to new settings. I tend to work from my actual home. However, there are days when I feel more productive working from a coffee shop or the back patio of our house. Having a routine doesn’t mean getting bored, and a new setting can do wonders for your creativity and productivity.
Keeping Your Remote Spot
Following these steps should keep you in good standing with most managers and employers. Obviously there’s no substitute for good work, so above all make sure you’re always doing a great job.
Don’t give your employer a reason to have you back in the office full-time. If you do, surprise, you’ll wind up back in the office full-time. Those of you hired as a remote worker, you’ll be remotely unemployed if you fail.
Most of all, don’t let these steps scare you away from working remotely. It can be an absolute blast, and remote status comes with a ton of perks. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some lizards to watch.