“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step” said Lao Tzu, the Chinese philosopher. Every time we start something new in life, it may be a bit uncomfortable, a bit scary even. The first few steps of the journey are the shakiest, yet the most important ones. Becoming a new member of a remote team is no exception.
Daunting at the beginning, this position, just like anything else we do in life, has its advantages and its small shortcomings, as well. However, if you are willing to go down this road, the advantages of working remotely will far outweigh any difficulties you might encounter, allowing you to live a happy, challenging, and rewarding life.
When you first become a part of a remote team, you have to keep an open mind to be able to learn new ways of organizing your work, as well as your personal and professional life.
Firstly, you have to be willing to adapt to new organizational methods and means, as nobody wants to work with someone who is permanently stuck in their ways. However, do not spend too much time doing so, not in a way in which your productivity might be affected too much. Instead, it should be a learn-as-you-go process in which, by the way, you should be able to pick up on things as they take place.
Secondly, an important aspect of becoming a new member of a remote team is not being afraid to ask questions when you’re not sure or don’t have the answer to a certain issue. Many people are uncomfortable with this as they fear they might be judged or misunderstood, but remember that this is a learning process and asking questions when necessary is an important part of it.
Another challenge that comes with such a scenario is the ability to take criticism. After all, who likes to be criticized for their work? Remember not to take things personally and that the only way you can progress is by learning from your mistakes. Then, move forward with your work and make it a clear goal to fix your flaws with your co-workers’ advice in mind.
An Act of Will
However, maybe the most important aspect when switching from office life to remote work is the fact that your will and passion for what you do will be tested. Since you said goodbye to fixed office hours and office attire, which have their obvious advantages, it will be easier to slack and waste time on personal things when you are working from home. Therefore, a good approach to this is to clearly set your goals and constantly make sure you’re staying disciplined.
Imagine this: you still have one more day of work until the end of the month. You’ve been on a role – working hard and losing track of time or how many coffees you’ve had. Or even that you should wear your eyeglasses. A terrible headache strikes and you’re out of headache medicine. You go to sleep hoping it will pass. At 4am you wake up in pain and remember that the only 24 hour pharmacy is five blocks away. You quickly get dressed and go out to wait for the bus hoping it will take you there quicker.
You get in the bus, only to find out that you’re sicker than you thought and need to get out at the next closest stop. You walk to the pharmacy, get the headache pills, come back. You look at your watch: it’s 6am and the sun is rising on the last working day of the month. You get a half an hour of sleep then you wake up to start working. After a tiring night, at least the headache has passed. Lesson learned? Drink less coffee and wear your glasses!
When working from home, you’ll be surprised to see how many people close to you will not take your job seriously and/or assume that you’re available for them at all times. Therefore, it will become extremely important to surround yourself with positive individuals who understand and support your efforts in making a new career.