What You Really Need to Know About Remote Work
A version of this article previously appeared on Skillcrush, an online education program for creatives, thinkers, and makers that gives total tech newbies the tools to make major career changes.
Cameron Chapman, Skillcrush
With over 40 percent of employees in the U.S. now working remotely according to a Gallup report, the idea of working from home (or a coworking space or favorite coffee shop) feels more tangible than ever. This report shows a definite trend: Remote work is the way of the future, and more and more employees are on the lookout for jobs that give them the option to work off-site full time.
But dreaming of a remote job—with its flexibility and the ability to work in pajamas—and actually being successful in one aren't the same thing. There's a learning curve that goes along with ditching your commute and your boss's watchful eye over your shoulder.
I talked to remote employees to find out what they've found to be the most useful skills, tips, and hacks in their remote jobs. Here's what you really need to know to work remotely, so you can succeed and love your new work life.
Your routines and boundaries are critical.
When you commute to an office every day, you tend to fall into a routine pretty easily: Get up, get dressed, eat breakfast, drink coffee, go to work, etc. But when you work from home, it's tempting to grab your laptop from your bedside table—and not bother to get up until your growling stomach starts to get distracting.
Rachel Sullivan, director of marketing for Metis Communications (and currently on a year-long adventure with Remote Year), says that following a morning routine is vital to her success. "Showering, getting dressed, and walking outside—even if just around the block—makes such a difference in your day and mental state. It's always tempting to roll out of bed and sit with your laptop on your couch, but taking the time to jumpstart your day can help you perk up and get in the zone."
Barb Breeser, digital marketing strategist at Purplegator, agrees: "Even though I may not be in our main office every day, it's important for me to act as though I'm in an office, so I dress professionally every day, and I am at my desk working by 7:30 each morning."
Your routine might not mean getting dressed up—if an anti-routine routine works best for you, embrace it. Jeanne Veillette Bowerman, Editor of ScriptMag.com, says "I love that I can literally roll out of bed and work all day in my pajamas. You'd be surprised the amount of time it saves every day to not shower and put makeup on."
Setting up routines—however you define them—are key to establishing boundaries between your work and personal life. A critical component should be shutting down for the day—whether it's closing the door on your dedicated workspace or, if you're like me and without a separate office, turning off your computer and stepping away from your desk at a set time each day.
You'll need to become a time management pro.
Time management has always been a struggle for me—I'm a born procrastinator. But when I started working remotely, I had to put a stop to that. I had no boss checking in throughout the day to see how I was progressing on things, and sometimes deadlines for big projects were weeks or even months in the future. Virtually every remote worker I talked to for this article mentioned some form of time management as a vital skill for being successful when you're not in the office every day (or ever).
Jyssica Schwartz, director of sales for online publisher Authors Unite, struggled in the beginning, too. "I would work on whatever popped up and kept shifting focus." To solve the problem, Schwartz started to block off time in her calendar for specific tasks and focused on only one thing at a time. It worked. "I was able to get more done and be much more productive!"
Whether blocking out time on your calendar or using something like the Pomodoro method, the Action Method, bullet journaling, or productivity apps, find a system that works for you to manage your to-do list.
You'll also need a system for prioritizing your work. Marija Kovacevic, the PR & media director at Nomad Capitalist, picked up a great technique from her CEO and mentor Andrew Henderson: creating a weekly or monthly "waterfall" where you create a prioritized list of the tasks you need to do, from most important to least important—and then sticking to it. "Often small tasks that are not so relevant or time pressing (example: immediate response to emails) can distract you and you lose your focus from the most important thing and project you should be concentrating on," she says.
Communication skills are totally different when you're remote.
The communication skills you picked up in a regular 9-to-5 might not cut it in the remote world. Katy Tripses, Head of Growth at StudySoup says that she'd considered herself "to be a person with pretty developed communication skills" when she was working in an office setting. But, she learned that "communication in a digital setting is a completely different skillset." Many remote teams communicate asynchronously through chat programs, email, and comments in project management systems—there's no popping by someone's desk to chat, running into someone in the kitchen, or even throwing someone an encouraging look.
Without these in person interactions, Tripses says that "goals, instructions, and deadlines absolutely have to be communicated very clearly and very concisely. The consequences of not doing so are very apparent and immediate."
Providing regular updates to your team is also vital. Jacque Shaffer, the Senior Customer Success Manager at WebLink, says "having daily standup meetings and quick check-ins throughout the day and using an instant messaging program ensures that everyone has what they need to keep things moving effectively."
Get ready to love adaptability.
Remote jobs give you flexibility—but they can require it, too. Laura Spawn, the CEO and Co-Founder of Virtual Vocations, Inc., says that between "learning to work with new remote team members, hiring new geographically dispersed staff, adapting to new software and technologies, or balancing changes in our personal lives with respect to established professional commitments, adaptability is as essential to a remote worker as a computer."
Are you looking for a job you can do while traveling? Kovacevic travels full time, and she's found that it sometimes means unexpected situations and blockers arise: "Time zone differences, deadlines, language barriers, unstable internet connection, delayed flights, and other on-the-road situations can sometimes seem overwhelming." But Kovacevic takes it as an opportunity "to prove to [her]self that she can rise to the challenge and get stuff done at the end of the day."
Not sure you're naturally adaptable? Your personality plays a big part, but so does planning ahead—and you can make up for a lack of natural flexibility with a solid game plan. For one thing, always assume you might need extra time to find good WiFi, make sure you have contingency plans in case things go wrong (delayed flights, slow internet at your Airbnb, etc.), and otherwise keeping Murphy's Law in mind on a day-to-day basis can make your on-the-go remote work a lot smoother.
(With specific tips for remote teams!)
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Why You Should Consider These 3 Functional Areas When Looking for Work-From-Home-Jobs
If you're wondering what kinds of remote jobs are available now, you're not alone. With unemployment rates skyrocketing and questions about when—and if—"non-essential" workers will return to the office growing by the day, it's safe to say there's a lot of uncertainty about the future of work.
Sales<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzI4MjUyOS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY1MjY4MTMyM30.jFAxh1QzOg9AX5lK6MLO_hmmObI5PYzUwUa7GqaUpVo/img.jpg?width=980" id="70bac" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="c098e8a3441103e435a911a6c695bfe7" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" /><p>Although a career in sales no doubt gets tougher during a slowdown, sales as a function has become all the more essential as businesses look to <a href="https://hbr.org/2018/11/what-sales-teams-should-do-to-prepare-for-the-next-recession" target="_blank">pivot strategies</a> and maintain revenue streams amidst the current crisis.</p><p>Even if you lack prior experience in sales, you can get a foot in the door by applying to entry-level positions in business development, searching for new leads for account executives. </p><p>Business development representatives and account executives searching for new leads aren't the only important sales-related roles that need to be filled. Customer success managers and renewal managers have an even more important role to play during a recession as acquiring new business becomes more difficult, and demonstrating value to existing customers to secure renewals and minimize churn becomes essential. </p><p><strong>Consider a career pivot to sales if: </strong>you're a goal-oriented go-getter with excellent listening skills who loves strategizing, meeting new people, and isn't afraid of the word "no."<br></p><p><strong>Open Roles: </strong><br></p><p>- <a href="https://powertofly.com/jobs/detail/272850" target="_blank">Enterprise Account Executive</a>, Elastic</p><p>- <a href="https://powertofly.com/jobs/detail/272619" target="_blank">Enterprise Account Executive</a>, Mural</p><p>- <a href="https://powertofly.com/jobs/detail/272146" target="_blank">Enterprise Account Manager</a>, PagerDuty</p><p>- <a href="https://powertofly.com/jobs/detail/270350" target="_blank">Regional Sales Manager</a>, Peloton</p><p>- <a href="https://powertofly.com/jobs/detail/272222" target="_blank">Partner Sales Manager</a>, Google</p><p>- <a href="https://powertofly.com/jobs/detail/272168" target="_blank">Sales Operations Associate</a>, Mural</p><p>- <a href="https://powertofly.com/jobs/detail/272160" target="_blank">Director, Enterprise Sales</a>, PagerDuty</p><p>- <a href="https://powertofly.com/jobs/detail/271875" target="_blank">Sales Development Manager</a>, Contrast Security</p><p><span></span>- <a href="https://powertofly.com/jobs/detail/271877" target="_blank">Renewal Account Manager</a>, Contrast Security<br></p><p>- <a href="https://powertofly.com/jobs/detail/266976" target="_blank">Partner Account Manager</a>, Packet</p><p>- <a href="https://powertofly.com/jobs/detail/272617" target="_blank">Senior Customer Success Manager</a>, Mural</p><p>- <a href="https://powertofly.com/jobs/detail/271545" target="_blank">Customer Success Project Manager</a></p><p>- <a href="https://powertofly.com/jobs/detail/271909" target="_blank">Senior Customer Succes Manager</a>, Okta</p><p><strong>View all open remote Sales roles <a href="https://powertofly.com/jobs/?keywords=Sales&location=Remote" target="_blank">here</a>. </strong></p>
Engineering<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzI4MjU1MC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYxNjI4MTI1MH0.FBRJTwoBmWwulUIgI1-jkWSspt5rPlL67Nt265U00Jk/img.jpg?width=980" id="5b220" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="8cf184e8db210026d9cd76946fa700e0" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" /><p>Developers have <a href="https://blog.powertofly.com/best-work-from-home-jobs-2623761914.html?rebelltitem=4#rebelltitem4" target="_blank">always</a> had a leg up in the remote job market, and that has become especially true now, as <a href="https://blog.powertofly.com/companies-still-hiring-during-covid-19-2645619431.html" target="_blank">many of the companies that are still hiring during COVID</a> are tech companies that provide the very tools and services we're all relying on to conduct business (not to mention our personal lives—hello, Zoom family dance parties). And engineers are essential to making these products a reality.</p><p><span style="background-color: initial;"><strong>Consider a career pivot to engineering if</strong>: </span>you love technical problem solving and have some coding expertise. If you have an academic background in data science, pursuing a corporate job in engineering <a href="https://blog.powertofly.com/expedia-group-data-science-2629320148.html" target="_blank">may be a more natural transition</a> than you think!</p><p>There are <a href="https://powertofly.com/jobs/?keywords=engineering&location=Remote" target="_blank">hundreds of remote/flexible jobs for engineers on PowerToFly</a>, but some of the newest include:<br></p><p>- <a href="https://powertofly.com/jobs/detail/272776" target="_blank">Principal Software Engineer</a>, DigitalOcean</p><p>- <a href="https://powertofly.com/jobs/detail/272730" target="_blank">Lead Software Engineer</a>, New Relic</p><p>- <a href="https://powertofly.com/jobs/detail/231839" target="_blank">Full Stack Engineer</a>, Sentropy Technologies</p><p>- <a href="https://powertofly.com/jobs/detail/272332" target="_blank">Principal Software Engineer</a>, Dell</p><p>- <a href="https://powertofly.com/jobs/detail/272278" target="_blank">Developer Solutions Engineer</a>, Okta</p><p>- <a href="https://powertofly.com/jobs/detail/271879" target="_blank">Full Stack Developer</a>, Contrast Security</p><p>- <a href="https://powertofly.com/jobs/detail/265740" target="_blank">Front-end React.js Engineer</a>, Pluralsight</p><p><strong>View all remote engineering roles <a href="https://powertofly.com/jobs/?keywords=engineering&location=Remote" target="_blank">here</a>. (And before to check out this <a href="https://powertofly.com/career/live-chats/125179-why-women-should-learn-to-code-resources" target="_blank">chat</a> if you need advice on how to make the pivot!)</strong></p>
Marketing & Product Management<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzI4MjU3OS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYyOTY4MzgzMn0.fJ-9gJJoRStzKCh0Hk19eHDyIO5RIMUO2kScuoDy9Z0/img.jpg?width=980" id="38e0f" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="1cefd097a9c739ae91d24196148a4bce" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" /><p>Once the engineers have built a product, who's going to sell it? Sales, right? But in case you haven't already heard the classic, "Everyone is in sales," now you know — marketers are salespeople too.</p><p> In recent years, marketing has moved out of the shadow of sales and instead of being viewed simply as an internal support department, it's now seen as having a strategic function of its own. Much like sales, marketing departments must now find creative ways to maintain old revenue streams and secure new ones.</p><p><strong>Consider a career pivot to marketing if: </strong>You're a creative problem solver who loves big-picture thinking and analysis. Top notch analytical skills <em>and</em> communication skills are required to really thrive in marketing, but there's plenty of opportunities to find your niche within the broader 'marketing' umbrella. Love writing? Consider content marketing. Obsessed with customers, user experience, and business strategy? <a href="https://blog.powertofly.com/product-manager-vs-project-manager-2636589609.html" target="_blank">Product management/marketing</a> might be just your thing. </p><p><strong>Open Roles: </strong></p><p>- <a href="https://powertofly.com/jobs/detail/272142" target="_blank">Head of Marketing</a>, OctaneAI</p><p>- <a href="https://powertofly.com/jobs/detail/271874" target="_blank">Digital Marketing Manager</a>, Contrast Security</p><p>- <a href="https://powertofly.com/jobs/detail/272632" target="_blank">Director, Geo Global Product Partnerships</a>, Google</p><p>- <a href="https://powertofly.com/jobs/detail/272404" target="_blank">Product Manager</a>, Mural</p><p>- <a href="https://powertofly.com/jobs/detail/272387" target="_blank">Director of Product Management</a>, Elastic</p><p>- <a href="https://powertofly.com/jobs/detail/272385" target="_blank">Senior Product Manager</a>, DigitalOcean</p><p>- <a href="https://powertofly.com/jobs/detail/271541" target="_blank">Head of Product</a>, Mural</p><p>- <a href="https://powertofly.com/jobs/detail/271168" target="_blank">Manager, Strategic Global Marketing</a>, Dell</p><p>- <a href="https://powertofly.com/jobs/detail/188582" target="_blank">Senior Manager of Product Marketing</a>, PagerDuty</p><p>- <a href="https://powertofly.com/jobs/detail/271296" target="_blank">Senior Director, Global Marketing, Advertising Business</a>, Spotify<span></span></p><p>- <a href="https://powertofly.com/jobs/detail/272195" target="_blank">Global Brand Solutions Lead, Go-To-Market, YouTube</a>, Google</p><p><strong><a href="https://powertofly.com/jobs/detail/272195" target="_blank"></a>View all remote marketing roles <a href="https://powertofly.com/jobs/?keywords=marketing&location=Remote" target="_blank">here</a>.</strong></p>
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