Four Questions to Ask Yourself Before Working Remotely
Some career paths are almost entirely exclusive to one location. Banking has Manhattan, the film industry has Hollywood, and national politics has Washington, D.C.
Even if you find opportunities to pursue your ambitions outside the central hub, often you will struggle to earn as much money, gain promotion, or enjoy the same relationship with your bosses when you work remotely. However, working remotely has many benefits. If you hope to start a family or other circumstances require you to move, working miles from your office allows you to work in the industry you love in the place you need to live.
More and more, conservative job-seekers ask me for advice about working remotely. At the Leadership Institute, some staff work away from the Arlington office, and they do a tremendous job.
So here are four questions to ask yourself before working remotely.
1. How do you motivate yourself?
Some people are simply more productive if they have the regular encouragement of their colleagues and bosses. Personally, I’m a relatively independent worker, but even I enjoy daily interaction with colleagues to bounce ideas around. Other workers are quite happy to bury their heads in a project and not emerge until they have a finished product.
Other staff have the personal self-discipline to set hours and goals for themselves, which they can meet without the office environment to encourage them. Ask yourself honestly; what kind of worker are you?
Someone who works remotely must be able to exercise self-discipline and work in solitude.
Let’s face it; you’re asking a lot. You’re asking your bosses to trust you to be productive when you’re out of sight; you’re asking to be a little less effective because you won't be present for meetings or for colleagues to bounce ideas off of. Perhaps your organization even has to pay for you to return once a month and for significant events. It’s also inconvenient for your bosses who won’t be able to access you as easily.
So why would they say yes? Usually, because you’ve worked for an organization for a while, you’ve proved your value, and the inconvenience is worth keeping you around. Before you ask to work remotely, try to assess whether you’ve earned it.
3. Is your home environment conducive to productivity?
To be successful working remotely, you’ll need to create a semi-office environment for yourself where you can be as productive as you would have been on site. It’s no good trying to work with distractions from children, pets, or the hustle and bustle of your home life. If your home life is not conducive to work, you may need to consider finding somewhere else you can work -- either a coffee shop, a library, or something similar.
Surrounding yourself with people who will support you and motivate you to succeed is very important. Make sure you communicate with those around you about what you need from them to ensure you get work done.
The reality of a successful career is it doesn’t end at 5:30 pm or whenever you clock out at the end of the day. A successful career is more than the tangible work you produce day by day. It’s the connections you make, the speeches you give, the meetings you attend, the day-to-day conversations with your bosses, colleagues, and other professionals outside of your organization.
Working remotely means you won’t be physically present at the table, or at any other table unless you specifically travel. Like it or not, that will make it difficult for you to compete with your colleagues for promotion.
I tell you these things, not to discourage you from working remotely, but to make sure you take the decision seriously and ensure you’re ready to go above and beyond to continue to prove your worth.
Many people have very successful remote careers. Make sure you do too!