Working From Home is a hot job category and many firms are now hiring for roles specifically demarcated as ‘Work Remote’. If you are reading this article you might be looking for specific things to know about working from home.
Plan for the New Normal
If so, you are in luck – this article specifically outlines what you need to know to get started, including:
- What benefits you should ask for if negotiating your role, salary, or perks.
- How to set up a home office and effective work space, including products, tips, and tools to make your working environment conducive to productive work.
- Ways to add value from Day 1, as a remote employee and solo entrepreneur, including communication strategies.
- How to plan for changes in variable costs (utilities, phone, internet, etc) as a result of having a home office and how to plan accordingly
- Ways to have fun – the Work From Home road is just starting and can be a transformational journey for your life and career.
Negotiate New Benefits
If you are Working From Home as an employee, you should ask for additional perks and tools to do your most effective work. Ask your company to consider helping you pay for the following:
- Home Wifi bill: you should ask for having all or a portion of your home wifi bill covered as you will be required to have it for work.
- Mobile phone bill: if you were using an office phone and must use your own cell phone to sync with clients and partners your firm should cover your mobile data plan. If you need a secondary phone (only used for work) ask for it. If speaking on the phone is a core part of your job this is a perk you should advocate for.
- Office Equipment: you can’t work as effectively without basic office equipment. You might need headphones to hear clients, a desk to work – consider a nice l shaped desk or a ladder desk if you are short on space. You’ll also need a chair (consider a kneeling chair), and a monitor (or vertical monitor). Perhaps you own some of these items already but you should ask for a one time annual stipend to upgrade and improve your working environment. As you transition to work from home you may not have a home office setup that is as comfortable and effective as possible. To help make working from home easier for you, ask for the following: the ability to purchase products that you need to create a comfortable work from home space (for example: desk, standing desk, gel mat for a standing desk, red chair, webcam, lighting). While equipment is one essential part of creating your space, other tools might also be helpful like a subscription to Calm, Headspace or other apps that improve your overall well being. Ideally you can avoid spending money on core technology that your firm should provide (laptop, chargers, docking stations, other IT equipment).
- Utilities (or a percentage of utilities): this might strike you or your employer as a non-standard item but do note that your heating, cooling, and electric bills will be far higher if you work from home all of the time.
If you are Working From Home as an employee, you should ask for additional perks and tools to do your most effective work. Don’t be shy about asking for these resources – and remind your firm that you want to do your best work. You can’t work without wifi most likely and you can’t work without office supplies. Your firm knows this. Ask them to help empower you.
Embrace Open Communication
Now that you have asked for additional perks and set up your home office, you are actually ready to start work. How can you communicate effectively and manage your team, boss, staff, clients, partners, and other relevant stakeholders well? Firstly, air towards overcommunication to start. Especially when working remotely you will want people to know who you are, what you do, your core focus, and how you are adding value. Don’t be afraid to send emails to your colleagues introducing yourself or scheduling 1:1 meetings with your peers, clients, or management. Have a presence. When Winston Churchill was nominated Prime Minister he said he felt as if he were “walking with destiny”. In other words, he felt totally comfortable with the moment and his role in it. You should try to elicit the same feeling – you were hired for a reason (you are smart, capable, and have relevant skills) and your firm will want to know your thoughts and value from the beginning. In an office building you could convey your thoughts and feedback in informal settings – over lunch perhaps. But as a remote worker you will need to dig a bit deeper to keep others informed. Invest in this communication strategy and you will have a better vantage point in the near and long terms.
Once you have started communicating effectively and broadly to inform your peers of your presence and impact, start planning for the future. Firstly, your will likely increase as a result of Working From Home. Budget for these enlarged expenditures. While you will save money by not committing (or going out to eat lunch perhaps as often) you will have higher utility, heating, cooling, and home office costs. Be aware of these and understand if you can deduct any from your taxes or get reimbursed from your firm.
You are your own CEO
Secondly, Working From Home can be a seminal step towards a career with more freedom. Perhaps you can change your geographic location – and move to a city or state you have always wanted to spend time in. Perhaps you can move to a lower cost jurisdiction. Depending on your stage of life maybe you can even travel and work remotely for some period of time. Working from Home can be liberating and it provides a unique vantage point by which to re-examine some of your lifestyle choices. I have one friend who used his remote job to move from a small apartment in New York City to a large home in Boulder. I have another friend who put her stuff in storage and worked remotely from different international destinations for a year. A third friend used the time he saved from no longer commuting to invest in his physical fitness and wellbeing. In short, you will get back precious time by Working From Home. How you chose to use it is your decision. But being open to new lifestyles or approaches is exciting and a compelling perk derived from the home office.
In conclusion, this article should have sparked your imagination and led you to think more holistically about what working from home means. That includes how to think about your compensation and potential perks; how to set up your new work environment and workspace; ways to communicate more effectively; how to think about and save for potentially increased home office costs; and potential lifestyle changes or adjustments you can make with your new Work From Home ‘freedom’. If you are new to Work From Home experiment with these different levers over time. Ultimately what works best for you will lead to the greatest happiness and hopefully utility in your life.