Beginners guide for a virtual or remote worker

It is already common knowledge among businesses that allowing employees to work from home means a whole new set of liabilities. So the most crucial thing to do is to create employee handbooks that they can stick to. Before your remote employees start working, ensure that they have the necessary tools to do so, like WiFi capability, logging in users, and conferencing tools. Make sure that your remote employees – especially new employees – have the tools and resources needed to get the job done. It is also wise to set up a company policy explaining steps to take should technical issues prevent your remote employees from doing their jobs.


For instance, although a location might be remote, your telecommuting policy might require employees to live in a specific city or state for tax purposes, in order to complete job tasks, or in order to be available for in-person meetings on occasion. Remote work policies typically address data security rules, legal considerations, guidelines on setting up a home office, and any travel requirements (e.g., for occasional in-person meetings or an annual retreat). Remote work means having flexibility to work from any location beyond a traditional office environment, either because of the commute or the distance to a local office, or because of a personal preference. If you are required to travel in order to perform the duties of your job, that may also count as remote work.


Remote work can be any sort of a job, full-time, part-time, or project-based, where a single individual performs work from outside of a business offices. Remote work also makes it easier for those living with disabilities, or workers who require more flexible schedules, such as caretakers, to seek and succeed in a full-time position.


Today, a growing number of companies are introducing flexible jobs and remote work into their businesses in response to an increasingly distributed workforce. With telecommuting being the fastest growing commuting mode, and 80 percent of respondents in the survey reporting working from home full-time is the most desired form of flexible working, it is no surprise so many workers are seeking remote jobs.


While telecommuters generally describe a better work-life balance due to greater flexibility (including time for medical appointments), lack of an exhausting commute, and more time for exercising and going outdoors, telecommuters also typically work longer hours compared with office-based colleagues, and are less likely to take vacations. Because many remote workers are allowed to set their own schedules, they are also more flexible, and are able to plan personal appointments throughout the day, or attend the after-school activities of their children. This means that they can work from home, coffee shops, beaches, Their car, or even from coworking spaces that are frequented by other telecommuters and freelancers just like them.

Keep in mind, working remotely for an extended period excludes many things, unless you decide to work at a coworking space instead of working in a regular home office. It is rare to find a company that will not let you work from bed if you are coming down with a flu, but it may be difficult to find a place that wants you to work remotely 100% of the time. While most companies will let employees work from home on occasion – when that crazy snowstorm hits, if you are feeling ill, if your babysitter calls in sick at the last minute – it can be tough to find a company that wants you to work remotely full-time.

When you first start thinking about working from home full-time – or even about traveling for undetermined amounts of time and needing a flexible work arrangement – this can be intimidating. Starting a new job can be stressful and overwhelming even at best, but doing it amidst a global pandemic, with so much work happening remotely, makes it that much harder.

Starting a remote job in an environment where your managers and colleagues are also getting used to working from home – and all of you are dealing with many other stresses in a global pandemic – can make the kickoff a little harder.

Getting a remote job could actually be a good test run to make the leap into full-time work: See how you handle time, remain motivated, and work effectively from your own home, a coffee shop, or a coworking space. If there is no opportunity for just moving your glamorous desk job into a remote job, see if you can get a position elsewhere remotely. If the methods mentioned above are not working for you, you can also look for a remote job that does not require any particular experience, and you could take it at an entry-level.

If you have an IT or Computer Science degree, chances are extremely good you could leverage your knowledge to get a remote job. Clearly, in order to land a remote job without any experience, you are going to have to show the ability to operate without direct supervision. Keep in mind, even if you do not have remote experience, you might still have transferable skills that would help you to be successful in a remote role.


If your new employer has only recently transitioned to remote work, though, you might be finding things to be a little rocky, which is why it will be all the more important that you take initiative and ask for what you need. It is expected that your new employer will provide you with a computer, along with accessories and basic office supplies, but consider asking for something specific if you feel that would help you perform better at your job, particularly while working remotely. Whether it is to feed your travel addiction, relieve your fear of moving, or if a desk is just not a desirable place to spend the day next to, working remotely may be an excellent fit.


Key takeaways for employers 

Working from home can increase productivity, decrease turnover, and lower the costs to an organization, while employees can exploit the benefits such as flexibility and not having to commute. From opening up your interview process to remote video interviews, to allowing flexible scheduling options for telecommuters, telecommuting-friendly policies can transform and empower your company so that it includes and values employees regardless of their location or the way they work. Building a strong remote culture from the beginning can help you take advantage of remote working benefits, while mitigating some of the typical risks and challenges in distributed teams.


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