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Remote work has been the order of business ever since the pandemic began. Even as we enter the post-pandemic world of work, things like working from home (WFH) and hybrid options remain firmly in the mix.
It’s easy to see remote work as a perk. But desiring it regardless of the situation may not be the best plan.
If you have an opportunity to accept a work-from-home position—be it part-time, full-time, or freelance—here are two major areas that you want to consider before you send out that acceptance letter.
One of the first things that you should consider before accepting a work-from-home job is whether the employer is able to run a virtual office well. In the scramble to adapt to the new remote-friendly work environment, many employers are offering remote status, whether they’re fit to do so or not.
The talent drought that the business world is experiencing is only accelerating things. High-profile employees are becoming more and more difficult to find, and headhunting is common. Even minimum wage workers are leaving their jobs en masse.
This has pushed employers to throw any and every perk at a job candidate. Working from home is an easy one to toss into the mix. But just because an employer lists WFH status on a job description doesn’t mean they’re suited to operate in that kind of environment.
As you consider a job offer, ask a few questions to see if the employer is set up for remote work.
For instance, inquire into what their onboarding process will be like. If you’re a 1099 employee, will they have the right documentation to get you on the books as a contractor? If you’re a full-time employee who will be managing others, what resources or training will they offer you?
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Infrastructure is another thing to discuss. What does the company have in place for remote workers after the onboarding process is complete? Does everyone use a workflow platform, shared cloud storage, and online communication portals, regardless of their remote status? Will you be an outlier working remotely while everyone else is together in a close-knit physical office?
Asking these kinds of questions can help you feel out if a WFH position will be the right move. If a workplace isn’t ready to support remote work, that’s a big red flag. The last thing you want to do is accept a remote position and then find yourself struggling to make things work as you labor in isolation.
The next thing that you want to consider is if you are ready for the remote work lifestyle. This shouldn’t be a quick and easy “yes.” Take the time to think things through.
For example, have you worked from home before? Try to avoid using early pandemic experiences as a litmus test here, too. That was a very unique time when working from home was highly tolerated as the only option for most employers.
Have you been a remote worker in a normal business environment? In other words, do you know what it’s like to meet deadlines, attend meetings, and stay connected to a team during the mundane grind of everyday remote work?
Along with these considerations, there are a few things that you’ll want to prepare for before you accept a job, especially if you haven’t worked from home before. There are certain soft skills that WFH workers should be ready to flex when needed.
One of these is positivity. One study showed that as much as 20% of remote software engineers suffered from loneliness when working remotely. There are many other reports available with similar statistics.
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They may seem like low numbers. But if you read between the lines, it also means there’s a significant chance that you could feel isolated in a WFH situation. If that happens, will you be able to guard against any potential emotional pitfalls? Can you find the self-awareness and self-compassion to get out of any discouraging or depressing slumps you might experience when you’re alone?
Two more critical soft skills are flexibility and adaptability. Remote work is nothing if it isn’t unpredictable. It often comes with loose schedules, asynchronous meetings, and a carousel of software that you have to learn.
Are you ready to embrace an attitude that is ready to adapt to whatever works best at the moment? To take things even further, are you a creature of habit? Or does the idea of always learning and growing get you excited? You’ll need to lean on the latter to survive and thrive in an ever-changing remote work environment.
Working from home is a fantastic benefit that many individuals have enjoyed both in the past and the present. However, the success of remote workers doesn’t mean the perk automatically applies to everyone.
On the contrary, it’s important that you consider every aspect of a remote position. Start with the business side of the equation. Is an employer equipped to support you as you work from home? Or are they casually throwing remote work into the mix without the means to facilitate it?
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From there, move on to a self-diagnostic check. Are you ready for remote work? Is it an environment that will help you thrive? Or are you attracted to it just because everyone else is doing it?
Think things through before you say yes to a position. That way you can feel confident that the new move will be a net positive for your current employment as well as your future career.