No commute? No dress code? A relaxing work environment? For many people, this sounds like the ideal. Once IT professionals had a chance to widely test drive a remote working arrangement, their involuntary response to returning to the office was an emphatic no. In fact, 64% of workers say they want to continue to work from home after companies go back to the office.
As we talk to job seekers, we’re hearing and learning a lot about the reasons people have for wanting to carry on working from home. Since the engagement and professional growth of our IT consultants matter to us, we always ask them to mull over a few considerations before they make their conclusion.
Whether you’ve already been thinking “Is remote work right for me?” or you haven’t given it much thought, here’s what we try to ask consultants before they pursue remote roles.
Can you create a dedicated workspace?
Last year, many people transitioned to work-from-home arrangements without much forewarning or preparation. Kitchen tables or couches became work stations. Closets became quiet spaces away from rambunctious kids or pets to make important calls. Generally, anywhere you could work, you would work. Yet ad-hoc workspaces can leave you depleted fast if it’s the norm and not a temporary fix.
Long-term remote work requires a separation between your work life and your personal life. When you walk into your work space (one with a desk, a firm yet comfortable chair, a quiet ambiance, and minimal distractions), you can shift your mindset and be present for the challenges ahead. When you are done for the day, you can leave your work behind and remain present with your family and friends.
Without a clear barrier between the two modes, work-life balance easily gets out of whack. Over time, that can lead to stress or resentment about your work, and a desire to start your job search over again.
Are you productive working remotely?
We’ve all felt productivity slumps, but for some people, a remote work environment might facilitate more off days than on days. In a survey conducted by Blind, an online platform for workplace transparency, 11% of tech professionals at 41 companies said they spend less than two hours a day on real work when at home. With that in mind, 15% of tech workers said they put in seven or more hours of productive work each remote day. So, top performance is absolutely possible.
Though some people flourish while telecommuting, be honest about your own personal disposition. Those who took part in the worldwide remote work experiment last year likely have some great data on the telecommuting productivity on hand. If you or your company use a time-tracking application, it’s as simple as reviewing the amount of productive time you completed before and after the transition to remote work. More than just logging time on work calls, were you able to actually dedicate substantial time to the real work of your job?
Furthermore, think in terms of realistic rather than optimal scenarios. Many people who have never worked remotely get caught in the best-case-scenario trap, but there are plenty of built-in distractions (kids, dogs or cats, household chores, etc.) that can weaken your concentration if you are not ready and willing to stay on task.
The fact of the matter is that some people require structure and motivation from their peers and bosses to achieve the best work outcomes. Others crave autonomy and creative leeway to be at their best. Just learn and embrace your own style for handling deliverables and deadlines, otherwise you’ll be drained by your job in short order.
Are you a proactive communicator?
The ability to stroll over to a coworker to ask a question or do a quick face-to-face huddle with your boss vanishes when a workforce goes remote. Impromptu catch-ups are essential to moving the ball forward toward the end zone on each project. Yes, there are email, chat, and video conferencing tools to achieve the same level of spontaneous conversations, but effective remote workers need to be willing to use them–and not everyone is.
In a survey conducted by Upwork, 30.3% of respondents said that one of the main barriers to their remote work transition had to do with difficulties in communication. Though there were some hiccups early in the process, some of those challenges persisted. Whether it’s providing coworkers with updates or coming together to innovate, a remote worker needs to take the initiative to remain proactive about communication to stay adaptable in a fast-changing world.
On the subject of communication, remote workers can also feel greater isolation on the job. In the above Upwork survey, 30.5% of respondents felt like their companies suffered from reduced team cohesion. Again, there’s an extra effort that remote workers need to apply to team building, taking the time to message their coworkers, not only about upcoming deliverables and challenges, but just to catch up and foster strong connections.
Are you willing to work outside of your time zone?
Working in your own time zone is not always a preference on someone’s radar until they are in the thick of an undesirable situation. We all have our preferred working schedules and time of day in which we are most productive. If you are an early bird or a night owl, it’s ill-advised to take a job with work hours outside your peak production. It’s manageable on occasion, but will sap your productivity and morale in the long run.
One way to mitigate the effect of different time zones is to work as an IT consultant. You’ll still be likely called to attend the occasional virtual meeting outside of your typical work hours, but there is far more autonomy, especially when and how you complete tasks. For those who thrive in remote-work environments, IT consulting can be a win-win situation.
Would a hybrid work arrangement be better?
If after reading this you’re ambivalent about whether or not remote work is right for you, there’s a healthy compromise: opting for a hybrid work arrangement. You can benefit from the greater flexibility of remote work arrangements while also still maintaining strong bonds, cohesion, and easier communication with your overall team, creating a perfect environment to increase the capacity of your career.
Want to find opportunities that work for you? Search our latest job opportunities for those that fit your goals and challenges – and be sure to let our recruiters know your working preferences.