Over the past two years, the nature of our work and workplaces became entirely unrecognisable…for many of us. For those of us who worked remotely before the pandemic, this “new normal” wasn’t entirely new. It was just different.
For us, remote working isn’t the future. It’s the now. Not because we’ve been forced to, but because we want to. This is the key difference between working from home and remote working. Pandemic or not, we are certain that remote working works better. But what about you? How do you successfully transition from on-site to remote working by choice, not by obligation?
Define your priorities
If you always worked on-site, or were thrust into a chaotic hybrid model, the prospect of going fully remote might be daunting. Therefore, it’s fundamental that you define your priorities. This will give you your “why”.
Many remote workers cite freedom, flexibility and autonomy as some of their core reasons for going remote. CTO Jochen Lillich says, “The biggest reward of building a remote-first culture is definitely the freedom it gives us. Freedom to move countries from Germany to Ireland, freedom to prioritise a sick child or exhausted spouse, freedom to take a walk when the sun's actually out etc.” This is his, what is yours?
Getting to the root of your desire to work remotely is the most important step in the decision making process. Without the “why”, the “how” will never come. Traditional working models would have us think that the drive towards independence is selfish, but the truth is that empowered workers perform better. Have a look at this template to figure out your “why”.
Restructure your mindset
Moving into remote work requires a shift in mindset, and this is often a job in itself. In the past, our lives have been built around our jobs. Remote jobs flip this, giving us the “life/work balance” we crave, rather than the improved “work/life balance” often touted.
If you find yourself stuck, wanting but unable to take the leap into remote work, the challenge is often to get yourself in the right headspace. One of confidence, self-belief and excitement about the possibilities remote work will offer you. Return to your “why” to help you get there.
The internet is awash with information on how to go remote. Counter the overwhelm by seeking support on how to get a remote job, doing a course, or attending a webinar. Knowledge is power, and the more you know about what remote working entails, the easier it will be for you to make the transition.
Assess your skills and interests
A common roadblock is wanting to go remote, but not knowing how your experience translates. Your current job is heavily site-specific; engineer, social worker, bartender etc. Psychologically, the narrow parameters of these job types may limit our ability to think beyond them.
However, the skillsets involved in every job are widely transferable. An engineer would be proficient at project management. A social worker is adept at community liaison. A bartender has customer service experience. There are remote work jobs that all of these skills apply to, and often, the right remote job for you will look nothing like your previous job description. Don’t be afraid of this; it’s an exciting opportunity to align your experience with your “why”.
Make an inventory of your skillset and experience. Then, do a quick job’s search with some keywords relating to your role with the “remote” filter on to give you an idea of what work is out there. Next, make a list of your interests. The combination of these two areas - skills and interests - will help to narrow down what kind of remote job to look for. A focused search is key to finding the right role for you.
Decide on a workspace
One place you won’t be working is in the office. Effective remote working has a lot to do with the most productive environment for each individual.
If you want to remote work from home, carve out a work area. Enda Regan of Shopify says, “Get a desk, have a dedicated space to work. This allows you to naturally be comfortable working but also gives you an escape. When you close your laptop for the day you can leave your space and leave your work day behind you.”
For others, a co-working environment might be more suitable. Governments are investing in redundant buildings to revive dying urbanities and promote a culture of remote working. Those whose “why” is the freedom to travel might sign up to a remote work program, a hassle-free way to work, travel and be part of a community.
Connect with your community
A major obstacle to going remote is isolation and disconnection. Without a team of colleagues to bounce off, remote working can be lonely.
Luckily, remote work culture is all about community. This community understands your journey, and all the fears, doubts and questions that come with it. Community is invaluable, not only for a sense of belonging and motivation, but also for the supportive and professional network it provides.
Most remote workers find remote jobs directly through the connections they make on hubs like Grow Remote, or localised Facebook groups, as opposed to traditional channels. Don’t underestimate the power of organic networking that happens via remote communities.
As remote work coach Kate Smith says, “Don’t make the mistake of making connections in the 9-5 world, as that is just going to lead you to 9-5 opportunities, and that is not what you want.”