When I first began working with moms considering careers in tech, I thought they would all want to work from home. I thought being at home and earning income was the epitome of success. I thought every mom would think the same thing I did. I learned very quickly while most of the women I worked with loved the idea of flexibility, they all had a different idea of what flexibility meant to them. And remote work was not necessarily the answer.
After spending the last 6 — 7 years working from home, I have had to adjust to many life circumstances. I had a baby and started my masters degree online (‘Boiler Up) 6 weeks later which meant I had to work between the baby’s naps and preschool. Boy, those were the times! Then I worked while I had two preschoolers and two in grade school. I remember being in the car a lot then! I always found work at night to be a quick and focused time to work as my kids went to bed early and my husband traveled frequently.
Now that my kids are a little older, they are in school during the day, but go to bed a little later. As I write things, we are still working our way through quarantine as a country so add some virtual schooling in there as an experience of working from home. My point is much of my work from home time has looked very different. I’ve had to re-invent when and where I work. While I like working from home generally, I can see the advantages of being face to face with people. It’s been a time where many people have had to adjust to an online environment when their work wasn’t focused that way for most of their careers.
Remote work can look a different to different people. I think anyone can be cut out for remote work, if you put the right mechanisms in place. I typically have in-person meetings a few times a week. I also do some traveling. This helps to keep the extrovert in me engaged and high-energy. But with so many distractions around the house these days, I’ve had to double-down on my focus. I love my headphones with alpha waves to keep my eyes and ears focused on the work in front of me. I have a dedicated space to work which builds routines and enables me to jump right into work mode. I also use a calendaring system (a few in fact) that allows me to know exactly what I should be working on when. This helps me cut down on the waffling and cognitive overload wasted on “what is top priority right now?”
When assessing whether remote work is right for you consider how much you enjoy being in an office, interacting with people. Factor in commute. Is this how you want to spend your time? I would have said no for many years, but in these days of non-stop family-time, I wouldn’t mind some built in time for podcasts:) Also, consider your level of self-motivation. Are you inherently self-motivated. If not, do you have systems in place to keep you on task and moving forward on your goals? Maybe your remote team has daily stand ups? This can be a highly effective system for staying on task.
The environment of your company is also a factor. Being remote might sound great, but what are the other people at your company doing? Are they all in the office and you are the only one at home? This can put you at a disadvantage if you and your organization don’t have the right mechanisms in place to ensure you are included in discussions and your voice is heard.
Here are four questions to ask yourself if remote work is right for you because in our current and near-time future climate, remote work will absolutely be an option for most working professionals, particularly in tech:
- Do require the energy or collaboration or in-person work to be generate my best work?
- Am I most effective in my home work environment?
- Do I have the right systems in place to be effective from my home environment?
- Can I communicate effectively over video and through written communication such that my team members feel supported and valued?