Working remotely on a regular basis has gone from “nice if you can get it” to the new normal for many professionals — especially as the coronavirus pandemic continues to keep people on lockdown. Now while it may seem like most employees are feeling the sting of isolation, a recent survey of 1,018 remote employees found that this might not be the case after all.
Remote workers still feel connected
When asked how connected they felt to their colleagues while working remotely, 61 percent of respondents said they felt “connected or very connected” to co-workers after the shift to working at home.
This sense of connection and overall workplace satisfaction occurred across industries, with the highest comfort levels for working from home reported from the following career areas:
- Human Resources and Legal (72 percent)
- Healthcare (66 percent)
- Marketing, Media, and Design (62 percent)
- Operations and General Management (62 percent)
- Technology (61 percent)
Amanda Augustine, TopResume’s career expert, Certified Professional Career Coach (CPCC), and Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW), believes the data sends a clear message.
“Before the pandemic, employees and employers, alike, may have believed that in-person ‘face time’ was essential for maintaining collaboration, productivity, and corporate culture, but our survey proves otherwise,” she said.
Impacts on future employment
Even with an impending recession on the horizon, 26 percent of respondents said they would potentially decline a job offer from a company that failed to provide a remote work policy.
“Since current shelter-at-home policies have mandated a virtual workforce, at least right now, our data proves that professionals feel connected during self-isolation,” Augustine added. “So much so, perhaps, that one in four would decline a future job offer if the company didn’t offer a flexible work policy.”
Jeff Berger, CEO of Talent — TopResume’s parent company — agrees.
“The seemingly overnight switch to telecommuting has accelerated the technology-fueled trend towards a more flexible workplace that had already been steadily growing,” he commented. “Our findings reinforce that remote working is a viable long-term option for companies, positively impacting productivity, employee well-being, and team morale. In fact, employers who deny their staff workplace flexibility may find them choosing to work elsewhere.”
Tips for successful remote employment
Since it looks like working remotely will continue to rise (with many of us already doing it), there are several ways to make it effective for both you and your employer. Whether you have little work-from-home experience or were unexpectedly thrown into remote work without preparation, these tips can help you.
- Set a schedule: It’s easy to fall into bad habits, so start out being strict with yourself. Along with a set morning routine and regular lunch breaks, structure your actual working time to meet your deadlines. Create a to-do list or schedule projects into your calendar and stick to it; you want to be productive during working hours so you don’t have to work into the evenings or on weekends.
- Have a dedicated workspace: For some, this is an office with a door. For others, it’s the dining room table or a desk in the basement — whatever works for you. What’s important is that everyone knows that when you’re there, you’re working and need to focus.
- Use reliable technology: You may have to upgrade your internet speed, especially if others use it when you do. If your hardware is old, consider replacing it with current models that won’t slow down your productivity.
- Connect regularly with co-workers: If your company doesn’t have a dedicated gathering time, set up one with your colleagues to have non-work-related conversations. Zoom, Slack, Skype, and Microsoft Teams are some good video chat options. Socializing, even remotely, will keep you from feeling isolated and missing that personal interaction.
- Hold effective virtual meetings: This starts with good lighting, a quiet location, and a strong internet connection. Just as with in-person meetings, turn off your cell phone, don’t review emails, and don’t play internet games. Be patient as others speak, and stay in view of your camera; better virtual meetings equal more productive work in the long run.
Working remotely while parenting
It can take some determination and creativity to be a productive remote employee while being a parent.
Whether it’s ongoing or for just a few days, communicate with your HR department and your manager to discuss your options and settle on a plan that works for everyone, like perhaps you can do a bulk of the work during off-hours. Share the plan with your team members and your family members so everyone knows when you’re available.
Make a schedule that lays out work time, meal times, quiet times, online school work, etc., and come up with age-appropriate tasks to keep the kids busy and learning when you have to be focused on your job.
Amanda Augustine shared one trick for when you’re working from home with a preschooler: “I’ve found that the same devices and activities I use to occupy my preschooler on an airline flight also work well at home when I need to work remotely.”
Finding a work-from-home job option
If your current employer doesn’t or won’t offer a remote work option, you can still get there. Consider a resume to highlight your remote-work skills and knowledge.
Remote work can be challenging, but once you’re settled in, it can become a truly desirable and beneficial lifestyle choice.