As a remote worker who lives three provinces away from my employer, I’ve learned a few things about remote work! Today, reflecting on my experiences, I’m answering a few of the most common questions people have about remote work—I know I sure had questions before I started, so here are some of my observations!
Does geographic distance matter?
For the most part, geographic distance doesn’t impact my quality of work or my experience in working for The Virtual Effect. Being a remote worker, the type of work you are doing has to necessarily be doable from home, mostly independent of others besides in online meetings and away from work resources. The work that I do for TVE’s digital marketing doesn’t require an office setting by any means! Although I wish I could fully immerse myself in the culture of Edmonton and attend in-person events there, I learn as much as I can from my team, which helps me do the best work I can!
What are the advantages of remote work?
In my experience, there are advantages to remote work in all aspects of the job! Firstly, remote work has allowed me to “meet” people I wouldn’t have otherwise gotten the chance to connect with and work with. Also, with remote work making a job in another province entirely possible, I’ve loved learning about a beautiful city and province I didn’t know much about before!
Perhaps the most valuable advantage is learning how to communicate better. When you aren’t sitting in the same office as your colleagues and boss, you are pretty much forced to learn how to communicate effectively, because, without consistent, clear, efficient communication, work becomes more complicated and isolated than it needs to be. I’m so glad to have worked remotely and nurtured my communication skills, because I know these are some of the most valuable work skills, and I will definitely carry them with me to in-person work!
Lastly, I have noticeably improved my self-discipline in getting work done remotely. Without the office setting, I have had to learn how to become self-motivated and productive on my own, making do with a home office.
On the flip side, what are the disadvantages of remote work?
Obviously, remote work isn’t perfect: the unfortunate reality is that there is bound to be less social connection when you are working at home. It can make you feel isolated and lonely when you lack human connection during your workdays, but luckily, we can do our best to remedy this by making the most of online tools. At The Virtual Effect, we have weekly meetings to, of course, get work done, but also to allow for some personal chit-chat and catching up on what we did over the weekend. We have also made it a weekly tradition to ask a “getting to know each other” question during our meeting, which sparks light-hearted, non-work-related conversation! Making these efforts to keep up social engagement even in remote work can make all the difference in your experience.
What are some tips for how to adapt to remote life?
Adapting to the isolation was tough. I certainly didn’t get the hang of it right away, and even months in, I’m still learning new ways to improve my remote experience. However, a few key tips that have been game-changers for me: rigorous organization through to-do lists, notebooks, and digital notes on your laptop/phone, scheduling your tasks carefully to manage your time, and being clear and communicative with those I am working with.
What is an aspect of remote work that nobody tells you about?
Most majorly, nobody told me just how difficult it is to efficiently communicate with those I am working with. I didn’t expect the work communication to, at times, frustrate me because of its challenges. Living in the age of texting over phoning, I thought that written communication being our primary contact method wouldn’t be a challenge. However, this experience of primarily using email and Slack to talk to others can be challenging because it is less efficient than, say, walking up to someone’s desk in your office to ask them a simple question. Also, written communication can sometimes be challenging when someone’s words and tone are ambiguous through text, which leads to misunderstandings.
...And there you have it: some common questions about remote work answered! We hope that this blog has provided some helpful insight into the remote work experience. Stay safe and healthy!