Remote work has been a hot topic for a while now, with both critics and proponents of this new alternative model of work raising valid points as to where it stands in the future of businesses. While it’s true that not all types of businesses can go fully remote (think construction and manufacturing), working from home is no longer a plan for the future – it’s already happening today.
This is not the case for many young grads just starting out their careers, however, since most of them would prefer working closely with their mentors rather than remotely for fear that working from home would limit their growth. Indeed, a few years back, that would have been a real concern since the concept of working remotely was not as clearly defined as it is now (although we still have lots to learn). Thanks to technology, mechanisms that enable seamless collaboration between remote teams and their leaders, supervisors, and managers are now in place.
And in times of great change, such as these, should a company hire recent grads and entry-level workers for remote jobs? The answer is, today’s employees, regardless of their levels of experience, can work effectively and produce quality work without the need for physical access to their mentors.
Since most of the workforce is shifting online, it’s becoming extremely important to develop the right remote skills that will expose you to better job opportunities. That said, companies need to devise effective methods to help people at different levels of their careers to advance while working remotely.
People also need to change their mindsets from the traditional office set-up and all that it encompasses (physical connections, offline meetings, and so on) to the work-from-home orientation. While it’s understandable that certain challenges like communication barriers, different time zones, and technology constraints can hinder effective team collaboration, it’s achievable with the right approach. And junior employees can still advance their careers while working from home even without physical supervision.
Can Entry-Level Employees Work Remotely?
Everybody, given the right opportunity and tools, can work effectively from home. However, it can be challenging if the company culture doesn’t support this model of work. The following factors may be essential in helping the less experienced employees identify their development needs and advance their careers away from the office.
Have a Support System
Perhaps some of the biggest challenges junior staff face when working remotely are not having someone to bounce ideas off of, lack of mentorship, and not being in the office to see how things get done.
The company culture plays a huge role in ensuring that junior workers get all the support they need to help them become efficient in their work. For instance, a manager can implement a strategic team building system that allows teams to connect and collaborate with ease. Having an effective support system in place will encourage team engagement, which is a vital asset in the success of a remote team. However, how you implement it is what makes a difference.
Measure the Quality of Work, Not the Quantity
Managers and supervisors should establish a well-structured process that measures and analyzes the quality of work that junior workers deliver. This includes setting milestones for each team member and then identifying and tracking their progress and areas that need to be improved upon.
Maintaining a specific system of how things should run will prevent the junior from losing focus on the job and feeling left out. That’s where employee monitoring software comes in. For one, it eliminates the need to micromanage workers since you can track their progress on the tasks handed out. Take Traqq for example. It automates administrative work by monitoring and recording the number of hours worked, making it easy to create an invoice.
Seniors and supervisors should encourage juniors to communicate regularly about any issues or concerns that they may be having. It takes time for a new employee to get accustomed to how your company works, and this might take longer if it’s off-site.
That’s why communication is key. Plus, it helps to reduce the awkwardness of a new work environment and makes working as part of a team less intimidating. Most importantly, be sure to choose the right communication tools. It’s easier to discuss points clearly through video calls than via text. On the other hand, you may want to follow up on what you discussed with an email, just to make sure that the junior didn’t miss anything.
It’s equally important for supervisors and managers to ‘leave the door open’ for whenever a junior colleague needs to call to ask questions or seek assistance when they hit a wall in the course of handling projects.
Provide Feedback to Junior Employees
As a supervisor or employer, it’s important to provide feedback on the performance of a junior colleague. Avoid correcting the mistakes that a junior makes and instead make them aware of the mistakes so that they make improvements as required.
This way, you’ll help the employee learn quickly about how the project should’ve been done so that he/she can improve on future projects. Focus on the output of the worker, find weaknesses, and help them overcome these challenges.
How to Find Out Whether a Remote Job Is for You
Much has already been said about the benefits of working remotely. However, everyone considering jumping on the bandwagon should carefully weigh the pros and cons before embarking on this path.
Among the major challenges facing remote workers are self-motivation and self-discipline. When you work in an office, you automatically become motivated, or at least pretend to be, because you don’t want the boss to see you lazing around. Plus, if you turn around and notice that everybody is deeply immersed in their tasks, or at least pretending to be, you won’t have an option but try to look the part – even if you’re not actually working.
On the other hand, when working remotely, none of the pressures of an office environment exists. You have all the time and space to yourself, and nobody’s around to prod you to work towards your goals. When working from home, it is self-discipline that gets you to what you want to achieve.
So, on the point of deciding whether working from home is the right choice for you, there’s no straight answer since individuals have varied preferences and what might be a perfect working condition for one person might turn out to be a complete disaster for another.
That said, these tips might help to make your decision-making process a tad easier and also help you learn how to become a pro while working remotely.
As a remote worker, the most important aspect that you must possess is self-awareness. As someone who’s about to start working in an unfamiliar field, will you be able to thrive in that kind of environment? How prepared are you to go fully remote?
As we mentioned earlier, remote work requires a lot of self-discipline. You can’t pretend to look busy when working remotely since your job performance is measured by the quality of your work.
If you are the kind of person who wants a motivating figure like your manager or boss micromanaging you, then working from home might not be the right choice for you.
Are you able to create a routine and stick to it? Time management is notoriously challenging for remote workers of all levels. You’ll find all kinds of distractions while working from home, from noisy neighbors to kids and pets competing for your attention to temptations to peek at your social media accounts to the latest Netflix hits, to mention but a few.
With no one watching over your shoulder and with no one to judge you, can you resist giving in to any of these distractions? If not, then a remote role might negatively affect your performance and productivity.
Working from home requires that you set clear boundaries with those around you. Let them know that your work hours are not to be disrupted and you’ll be available during your breaks unless it’s absolutely urgent.
Luckily, you have access to tons of time tracking apps that can help track and monitor your productive time. This way, you’ll be able to stay on top of your to-do list and know how much work you actually managed to accomplish on any given day.
Traqq is obviously a good choice to manage your time. The app ensures that all your work hours are logged and provides options to manually edit the number of hours worked, which is especially convenient if you forget to turn it on when you start working. Plus, it lets you see the apps and websites that you spend most of your time on so that you know what eats up a huge chunk of your time. With such info, you can easily adjust or restructure your work schedule so that you can get more work done without losing focus.
Can You Work Alone?
Unless you’re an introvert who thrives working alone, remote working can get lonely pretty fast. Obviously, this doesn’t mean that extroverts can’t work remotely. However, it might be a bit tougher for a people person to work in private workspaces alone without interacting with other people.
Fortunately, the flexibility that comes with working remotely means that you can factor socialization hours into your schedule. Use this opportunity to catch up with co-workers or friends for coffee or lunch (if they happen to live nearby).
You may also have the option to share a co-working space with other remote workers if you find that you struggle with feelings of isolation and loneliness when confined to your little home ‘office’.
Can You Set Strict Work-Life Boundaries?
Unlike in an office where at the end of a working day, everybody packs up and leaves, the line is a bit blurry when working where you live. You might think that working in a familiar environment should make your work easier, right? It’s not as easy as it sounds.
Ask any remote worker, and they will tell you that it’s not once or twice that they forgot to take breakfast or eat lunch or even take a break. Plus, it can be really challenging not to check emails or your Skype work group out of your working hours.
One way to overcome overworking is to have a mindset of someone who’s going to the office. Dress up well (not necessarily in office attire) and remember to take regular coffee or lunch breaks, just like you would in an office.
Most importantly, designate a dedicated workspace that you only use for your work. Whether it’s a home office or a desk and chair on your patio, the aim is to train your mind that when you’re in that space, it’s all about work. And when you leave that space, you also leave work behind.
Co-working spaces are also good alternatives since they offer networking opportunities where you can meet and connect with other remote workers and also build relationships.
Communication and Technology
Your communication skills will be tested when working remotely. Not that you don’t communicate in an office, but with the absence of face-to-face interactions, you’ll most likely be communicating via chats.
With things like body language and tone missing, are you able to explain yourself clearly to your boss and co-workers? Luckily, in today’s world, technology has opened up easy communication channels, including video conferencing apps like Microsoft Teams and Zoom.
Still, there will be conversations best suited for chats or emails, while those that are too complicated are handled via video calls. Working remotely gives you the unique opportunity of learning how to use various communication and team management tools that will help you to work smarter.
Before you rule out remote work opportunities, consider taking the leap and giving remote work a try. Who knows, this could be a turning point towards financial freedom and self-satisfaction.