Remote work became necessary for so many in 2020, and it’s likely that remote jobs will continue to pop up in the future. Employers understand how moving some positions to be remote can reduce overhead office costs and make work-life balance easier for those who need more schedule flexibility. Even though you aren’t going into an office, remote work comes with its own unique aspects. For employers, it creates more transparency around individual work ethic, the ability to self-motivate, and project management skills. Individuals who can manage their time and control distractions efficiently will perform well. Those who need constant direction may struggle since they’re removed from the office group vibe and their boss. Before deciding if a remote position is for you, ask the hiring manager these 5 questions:
Is this job contract or full-time?
Some companies only allow their contract employees to be fully remote, so verify what type of position you’re interviewing for. For those who want to try new things or need the flexibility of working from wherever, contracting could be a great option! Depending on the company and project, the role could last anywhere from a few weeks to a year or longer. For those who need the stability of a full-time position, contract work may not be the best for you. Whether the position is a good fit for you will depend on what your needs and long-term goals are.
What equipment do you need and will they provide it?
Before most companies adopted working remotely, starting a new job meant getting a desktop or laptop computer and a work phone to answer calls. With remote positions, be sure to check what equipment is needed. Some companies will give new hires a laptop, some give them a stipend to buy one, and others might ask them to use a personal device. Asking about it in the interview will reduce stress during onboarding (especially if you must special-order any supplies). If you’re using a computer you already have, don’t forget to ask about system requirements and what software to download to be ready for your first day!
What productivity management tools do successful employees at your company use?
Working remotely requires a unique approach to project management compared to in-office positions—especially for anyone surrounded by distractions. Working with your teammates on a project may mean using software like Asana, Monday, or Trello to keep tasks straight and a shared Google Calendar to stay on track to meet deadlines. Knowing what systems are already in place provides a good peek into company life. When teams use a management system that suits all, that suggests they’re willing to try new things to find the right fit and have good collaboration and companywide consistency. If you already have a good workflow for remote work, this is an area where you could bring new knowledge to your team–especially if you’re using software they haven’t tried before!
Are the hours flexible?
Flexible work hours are becoming increasingly important in the remote-work pandemic world, especially as parents grapple with virtual learning. However, every company has a different understanding of what that means. Are there opportunities to start later in the day or work at night instead of traditional work hours? Can you split up your days and work for a few hours in the morning and the rest in the evening? Are you able to log off as you need to, so long as you make up the time at another point in the day or week? Figuring out the company’s stance on flexible work hours is key to knowing if it will fit with your current life and responsibilities.
The hiring manager could also tell you if you are required to answer emails or phone calls after hours. What are the expectations around overtime? Work-life balance is important, especially with remote positions where work and life intersect so frequently. Knowing the rules about your time and schedule before you start will help to avoid any future miscommunication.
What are the communication expectations?
Team communication is often different when members are remote. Some teams have group chats to discuss projects while others video chat once a week to check-in. Certain teams may schedule lunch meetings and weekly one-on-ones with managers, while others work more like individual contributors with a lot of autonomy. Verify how often you’d be checking in with teammates and managers during the week and what that communication would look like. Don’t forget to ask about team procedure when a problem arises. If there’s an issue, are they more likely to send emails back and forth or hop on a phone call? You want to know if you need to prepare for last-minute meetings often.
Working remotely can offer you the freedom to schedule your day and tasks to suit you best while also giving you team structure and goals.
Ready to accept a new position? Before you do, learn how to negotiate your salary like a pro!