It sounds like the ultimate dream: working from home, wearing yoga pants all day, no boss breathing down your neck, and no annoying co-workers heating up leftover salmon in the breakroom.
Remote work has its perks, but it's not for everyone.
Here are four realities to working remotely:
1. You're flying solo.
One of the draws to working remotely might be that you're not physically reporting to an office every day. Sure, this means you can do conference calls without pants, but it also means you are largely on your own.
There's no water cooler chat and no conference table camaraderie before meetings start. It's just you and your laptop and the occasional video call, where inevitably the picture is frozen on someone with their mouth open and eyes closed.
It's hard to go from a traditional office setting to flying solo, especially if you thrive on those monthly birthday lunches. Combat the isolation by finding a co-working space or a coffee shop that is just busy enough that the baristas become white noise, but not so busy that you see everyone you know. Also, don't be afraid to ask your boss to include you on team-building exercises if it's practical, and ask whether there's a budget for you to come into the space at least annually to meet your colleagues.
2. Boundaries are hard.
When you're working from home, it's super easy to get distracted by such things as laundry, Netflix, stay-at-home parents, your own kids, that shiny beacon on the hill that is a Target, and so on. Setting boundaries for yourself and for your family has to happen in order for you to be successful.
On the opposite side of the coin, setting boundaries for your office is important too. Just because you work from home doesn't mean that you should be available at midnight to answer emails. The clearer the lines you can draw and have drawn for you, the better.
3. Expectations are high.
Working from home is a privilege, not a right. Managing a remote employee takes an incredible amount of trust. Because of this, expectations are high that you'll perform as expected and take your responsibilities seriously.
Yes, it would be so easy to do that Target run, grab lunch with your spouse on base, and then make it in time for school pickup, but make sure you're meeting your obligations before you play. Having the "expectations chat" with your boss early in your remote working experience is imperative to success. Do they want a daily check-in? Weekly? Should they be copied on all of your emails or none? Setting groundwork for communication will give your autonomy some parameters and make it easier on both you and your boss.
4. It's awesome.
If you find the right work and the right boss, working remotely rocks. You can throw that load of clothes in before you get started for the day, and it's easy to go for a run on your lunch break. Taking calls on the deck with your coffee, or at the beach, or anywhere you can find Wi-Fi is way better than being in a conference room.
Working remotely takes discipline and drive, but it also has great rewards -- like not wearing pants to write this.
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