Remote work. It’s not an entirely new concept, yet it still has the capacity to polarize different groups of people. Many companies provide their employees with the opportunity to work remotely, while others shy away from the concept, afraid of what it will mean for productivity and colleague camaraderie. Companies that fail to offer remote work options are more focused on the norms of a past generation: a set-in-stone schedule, a permanent workplace and a commitment to climbing the ladder, no matter the cost.
What if you could be the one to turn all of those traditional concepts on their head? What if you could be the first in your organization to push the boundaries and pursue a life of flexibility and balance?
Why You Should Be the First Employee At Your Company to Work Remotely
Before we jump into the "why", let's consider the "what".
What is a remote employee?
A remote employee is someone who is able to do their job outside of the office. This could mean that they are working from a local coffeeshop in the same city as their corporate office, or it could mean that they're working in a completely different timezone altogether. They often rely on new technology in order to communicate with their team and execute their projects in an effective, productive manner.
There! Now that that's settled, let's consider the reasons why you would want to be the first remote employee at your company.
There are always pros and cons to being the first to pilot a new idea. No matter the situation, there will be some who will view you as a trendsetter and a leader, while others will doubt your ability to pull it off. As the first remote employee at your company you will face these detractors, but you will also experience the thrill of forging a path for those who will follow. As the first successful remote employee at your company, you’ll be the one to set expectations and give others the opportunity to experience the remote lifestyle.
First thing’s first: you’ll have to work out an agreement with your manager that allows you to work autonomously outside of the office. Getting permission to work autonomously outside of the office is something many professionals strive for. Being able to do so is a clear indicator that you’ve won the trust of your supervisors.
Beyond that significant vote of confidence from your boss, you’re also being given the permission to pursue the opportunities that will allow you to excel within your personal and professional life. This is your time to take that approval and run with it, leaving crushed goals and serious business cred in your wake.
Now that you’re on the path to becoming remote employee #1 at your organization, here’s what you can expect:
What are the Benefits of Working Remotely:
Freedom and flexibility in your daily life
Working remotely has many benefits, but one of the most celebrated is the ability to have a flexible lifestyle. While many employees are confined to strict business hours, commutes and locations, remote employees can choose where they’d like to work. Some people who work remotely choose to do so from their home, while others obtain a membership to a coworking space. For those with families, working remotely can be an even bigger bonus. If a father would like to be available when his children arrive home from school, he can choose to start his day earlier to make that happen and vice versa. In addition to a more thoughtful schedule, remote workers also cut down on their commutes which typically dig into their personal time and leave them feeling apathetic about their work-life balance. Working remotely gives you that opportunity to control your life and the way you live your every day.
A trusting relationship with your manager
Your manager has given you the OK to work remotely, which can only mean one thing - he or she trusts you. You’ll know where you stand with your manager when you step foot outside of the office for the final time and into a new world filled with possibility. However, at times, that trust may be tested by outside forces including office politics, distractions from your work, miscommunication and micromanagement. It will be your job to keep that the trust between your manager and yourself strong through consistent communication and a daily commitment to achieving your professional goals.
Yes, this one’s actually true. Remote employees tend to be more productive because they are self-starters who have been placed in an environment in which they can thrive, whether that be right at home or halfway around the world. As the first remote employee at your company, you’ll have a chance to set the standard for the amount of work that can be done successfully outside of the office. Just remember to step back and practice self care on a regular basis!
A more creative mindset
When you’ve removed yourself from the traditional office environment of bright, fluorescent lights, uncomfortable furniture and cookie cutter artwork, you can finally open your mind to fresh ideas. Let yourself explore the different, endlessly inspiring places that you can work now that you are entirely remote and see what sparks your creativity. Whether this is a new office space in your home, or a neighborhood coffee shop, remote work gives you the opportunity to explore your options.
The chance to set yourself apart as a leader on your team
Do you want to be seen as a thought leader? Do you want to be the person who pushes the status quo to new limits in the pursuit of a higher purpose? Your team members will appreciate your gumption, and your managers will take note of your propensity for breaking down norms and moving innovative ideas forward as you advocate for remote work.
What are the Challenges of Working Remotely:
Decreased communication (and an increased need for it)
Yes, remote work cuts down on in-person face-to-face time and watercooler talk, but the more important communications that you’ll have to make an effort to find time for are the updates your team about projects, goals and action items. That is, unless you make it a habit. Make it a mission from day one of your time as a remote worker to over communicate and update your team consistently. Whether you prefer email, Slack, video calls or a project management software like Trello, make sure that you’re keeping everyone in the know so nothing slips through the cracks.
Confusion about your role in the company
Now that you’re not in the office from 9-5 Monday through Friday, some of your colleagues may be a bit confused about your position. Are you still leading the projects that you had started? Will you still be available to help them if needed? Are you going to work as hard as you did in the office? It will be your job to communicate with your team as often as possible (there seems to be a theme here) and ensure that they understand what you’re working on and how you can assist them with any issues that they’re experiencing.
A bit of jealousy
It’s only natural that some coworkers will think that you are receiving special treatment because you’ve been given permission to work remotely. Who doesn’t want the freedom to create their own schedule? It’s important that you reframe this challenge as an opportunity. You aren’t piloting this idea just for your own purposes. You’re doing it in the hopes that your company will see the program as a success and implement it for more employees. This isn’t just a plan to achieve remote work options for one, it’s a quest to attain remote work options for all.
At your core, you’re just not content with doing things the way that they’ve always been done. Your excitement for out-of-the-box thinking shows that you’re a total badass. Not only are you willing to push for a better future for yourself, but for others as well. You’re taking a risk and are determined to do the work so that your story will be a successful one. At your core, you’re just not content with doing things the way that they’ve always been done.
Taking the leap from in-office worker to a remote employee can be intimidating, and it certainly has its obstacles, but you’re not alone. There are specific ways to ensure that you can take on anything that comes your way as a remote employee, and knock your manager’s expectations out of the park.
How To Be the First Successful Remote Employee At Your Company
With great privilege comes great responsibility. Your manager is giving you the chance to pave the path for remote work policies at your organization, including what a successful remote work experience will look like. Here are a few tips to make sure that you set the best example for what a remote employee can be:
The initial conversation sets the stage for your success
The first discussion that you have with your boss about becoming a remote employee is extremely important. This is your chance to make an incredible first impression and instill an image of confidence in your manager’s mind. Even if you’re only interested in working remotely one day a week, you’ll need to strategically approach the conversation with research in hand, ready to chat through any of your manager’s questions and hesitations. Together, you should develop a plan for how you will tackle your responsibilities while working remotely and create goals so that you can track your progress.
Take your responsibility seriously
Remember, everything that you do as a remote worker not only reflects on you, but on the future of remote work policies within your company. Keeping that message in mind will help you remain motivated and on target to hit each of your goals. If you’re not only meeting expectations but exceeding them, you’ll make it easier for your coworkers to become remote employees in the future.
Your team members (and your boss) will still rely on you even though you are no longer in the office. Spoiler alert: it’s your job to be as present as possible from wherever you are in the world. Jump into Slack conversations, host monthly video chats where you can catch up on things that fall outside of typical work speak, and respond to emails in a timely fashion so that you can remain a part of your office’s culture from the comfort of your creative bubble, event if that bubble is just in your house just a few miles away from the office.
Keep track of your successes (and your tips for how to achieve them)
Now that you’ve started working remotely, be the leader that you were meant to be and help lift others to the next level. As you learn from your mistakes and celebrate your victories, record what’s worked and what hasn’t as a remote employee. Track your qualitative and quantitative progress so that others who wish to follow in your footsteps can use your experience as a case study to present to their managers.
How Being the First Remote Employee At Your Company Can Change the World
You read that right. Becoming a remote employee will not only benefit your company - it could change the world.
How remote work can change your company
Bringing a remote work program to your company allows you to enjoy more freedom in your own life, but it also has serious benefits for the entire organization. Many prospective employees are looking for flexibility in a workplace. In fact, nearly one-third of full-time employees will work remotely in the next ten years according to Upwork. This projection is a clear indicator that in-office policies are shifting to not only accommodate what workers want, but what they need to stay happy and engaged in their role. If your company wants to stay relevant and continue to recruit top talent, they should implement a remote work policy. You’re just helping them get to that first step.
In addition to talent acquisition and retention, your company can use another benefit of remote employees to their advantage: broader global understanding. The reason for this merit is twofold. Since a commute to the office is no longer necessary, a company that has implemented a remote work policy has the ability to hire employees that live around the world. These new hires bring with them a fresh perspective and diverse opinions, which can jumpstart an organization that has begun to rely on stagnant ways of thinking. In addition to bringing on new team members from around the world, your company can also activate current employees by allowing them to work remotely. If they don’t have to report to a brick and mortar office every day, they will have more freedom to travel and bring back ideas that they formed in their inspiring surroundings.
How remote work can change the world
You may have heard of the ripple effect. It goes something like this: what you do has the power to affect others and change their lives, and they have the power to do the same for their connections and so on and so forth. Becoming a remote employee is no different. As soon as you start working remotely and speaking about your positive and powerful experiences with others, some will become inspired by the idea and set out to attain this lifestyle for themselves.
This is the legacy that you could leave behind. By gathering the courage to talk to your boss and becoming the first remote employee at your company, you can set off a ripple effect and influence others to try remote work for themselves. Through this phenomenon, you might just change the way that society thinks about the workforce.