In the digital age we’re living in, technological advancements have revolutionized work that can be performed anywhere, inspiring multitudes of job seekers to pursue remote job opportunities. As a response to this global demand, employers have been scrambling to attract and retain more talent by opening up remote positions. However, while the demand for remote work is on the rise, many people still don’t know where to begin when it comes to tackling the job search, and some will struggle with striking the right balance between their work and home life.
As someone with years of remote experience spanning 2 different industries and 3 different companies, I’ve developed a few tips and tricks that have helped me immensely. As a disclaimer, the opinions in this article are a reflection of my personal experiences, and may not apply to all remote jobs or working styles. It’s my hope that in sharing these experiences, I might be able to help others in similar situations figure out how to navigate these waters.
A BIT ON MY BACKGROUND:
Fresh out of college, I landed my first remote position with a startup through one of my summer internship connections. The role was the perfect introduction to entry-level Marketing, with the added bonus of being able to work from home. After contracting for over 2 years where I had the opportunity to wear multiple hats and flex my creativity, I began to look for permanent opportunities that would allow me to further my skillset. It was then that I transitioned into a career in sales at an SF-based multinational corporation. This career change offered me my first taste of what it’s like to work in sales onsite at a large name-brand company—an experience that I ultimately enjoyed and thrived in.
However, my life would soon change. My husband landed a 3-year medical residency in Central Valley, in a county best known for agriculture and livestock. While I considered myself lucky to be able to remain in state, I would end up moving 3.5 hours away from the Bay Area. Fortunately, my company had been piloting a remote sales division, and I was able to land a highly coveted spot on this team.
As I settled into my new surroundings, I quickly found that remote cold-calling sales proved to be a difficult change. Without the comforts of my office, my colleagues, and the electric energy that ran deep through our sales floor, I felt suddenly overwhelmed. The encouragement of my desk mates and the vibrant energy of my former surroundings had fallen away, leaving me alone at my dining room table with nothing but my elevator pitch echoing through the walls of my house. Suddenly, without the background noise of the office, each rejection seemed to ring louder, and clearer.
FINDING A NEW REMOTE JOB
It was at this point, 4 years in, that I knew I needed to make another career change. The luster of my sales job had faded long ago, and I was desperate to find fulfilling work. I loved my former Marketing job, and was eager to transition back into the industry and grow my career. However, my temporary relocation to a rural area left me with few choices. The local office jobs were rare, and Marketing jobs were even more so.
With my unique circumstances in mind, I determined that remote work would still be a necessity if I were truly set on transitioning back into this industry. And with that, the search began.
From Indeed to Monster, I scoured the job boards for any remote Marketing positions. Having spent the past 4 years in a different industry, I felt unqualified—the few opportunities that met my remote + marketing needs demanded experience with certain processes and tools that I was lacking in. Nonetheless, I applied. I bit the bullet on a $14.95/month membership fee with FlexJobs, lured by the promise of accessing a treasure trove of remote jobs. While the daily email list of curated remote positions was a nice perk, the vast majority of jobs sent my way were outside of the scope of what I was looking for. Meanwhile, I created profiles on Planted and AngelList, hoping to find more remote opportunities with startup companies. AngelList yielded a couple interviews and interview requests, but all of the positions I was considered for were sales-related, once again.
Utilizing my network:
In an effort to leave no stone unturned, I began reaching out to former colleagues and friends of mine to inquire about openings in their respective companies. While there weren’t any positions through their companies being actively advertised as “fully remote,” they were able to keep me informed on Marketing opportunities with some telecommuting flexibility. On one fateful day, my friend at a recruitment agency (shout-out to Premier!) reached back out to me about a new internal Marketing position with a fully remote option that had plenty of growth opportunities, and touched on aspects of Marketing that I found most exciting. Flash-forward to now—I’m over a year in to my remote Marketing role, and I’ve never felt more professionally fulfilled.
THE DO’S AND DON’TS OF WORKING REMOTELY
Don’t: Be afraid to ask questions
My first post-grad job taught me a lot about the do’s and don’ts of working remotely—lessons that I took into my subsequent remote positions. As an inexperienced recent grad, I wrestled with imposter syndrome, and would often overthink the littlest things, like asking questions. Working remotely requires a deep level of comfort with digital communication, as asking a question is no longer as simple as a tap on the shoulder. Tip: Find out how your colleagues/supervisor prefers to communicate, whether through Google Hangouts, email, ping, a call, or text, and don’t be afraid to reach out to them.
Do: Make sure to stay connected with your colleagues
With every remote position I’ve held, weekly video conferences have been the norm for maintaining consistent face time, along with the occasional in-person meet up for co-working sessions, meetings, or special events. This face time goes a long way in fostering connection from afar, and feeling a part of the team. Without making this effort, working remotely can otherwise feel isolating.
Don’t: Work where you sleep
If you’re able to, it’s best to create a work-only space to get yourself into the mindset of “going to the office.” The problem I’ve found with working in bed, or working at the dining table, is that you never fully “leave the office.” It’s important to be able to compartmentalize work from your personal life, as it can be all too easy to let distractions derail you during the day, and it can be difficult to remove yourself from your work at the end of the day. Long gone are the days when I’d take calls from my dining table—I’ve since converted my living room into my official home office.
Do: Maintain a clean workstation
Keep your workstation clean and uncluttered—it’ll do you wonders for staying focused and organized. If you’re regularly hopping onto video conferences, make sure you check your background. Is there anything within your camera’s view that you wouldn’t want to share with your colleagues and/or clients? Avoid potential embarrassment and double-check your surroundings before you click to join!
Don’t: Work in your pajamas
Ok, this one might be polarizing, but hear me out. A lot of what it takes to be a successful remote worker is about creating a professional environment at home. While this doesn’t mean you necessarily need to suit up just to tackle the emails in your inbox, I’ve found that I’m better able to get into the “work mindset” by getting ready for the workday. Be comfy, be casual, but try to avoid making it a habit of rolling out of bed and straight into work until you’ve at least had a chance to freshen up for the day.
Do: Form a routine
This goes hand-in-hand with the previous suggestion of “getting ready for the day.” Go on your morning jog, have your coffee while you check your emails, walk your dog on your lunch break—in other words, find a routine that creates a good balance between your personal and your work life. After all, one of the great perks of working remotely is having more flexibility!
Ultimately, you will need to take the time to identify what works best for you. If my own experiences serve as any indicator, it may take a little trial-and-error before you figure out your routine, desk setup, or system for touching base with your fellow teammates. As technological advancements continue to pave the way for remote work, and droves of companies shift their hiring practices to meet the demand, the growth potential remains endless. When I joined Premier in December 2017, I was our company’s first-ever remote employee. By the end of my first year, I had already witnessed how this set forth a new precedent: Premier fully embraced the remote setup and transitioned two additional employees into fully remote roles when they needed to move out-of-state. Now, Premier may take things a step further by bringing on a team of remote recruiters in the near future—stay tuned!
Everywhere we look, more and more companies are rewriting the rulebook to create remote flexible opportunities with talent acquisition and retention in mind. Candidates no longer need to live locally or relocate for onsite work, and companies no longer need to say goodbye to employees moving away. Welcome to the new normal: remote work is here to stay, and the future looks promising and bright.
[4/21/20] Author’s note: This article was published in April 2019, and may not be fully applicable to our current times. The “Do’s and Dont’s” are based on personal anecdotes, with the intention of serving as a helpful guide for job seekers interested in remote work. We remain sensitive to the many difficult and uncontrollable circumstances surrounding our current global crisis. For helpful resources related to COVID-19, please visit our COVID-19 Information Center.