Remote work is trending and recent high-profile communication from senior executives (Elon Musk’s letter is an example) is likely fueling increasing interest in remote work. The good news for those who prefer hybrid or remote work: Most companies are offering options for employees to work where they want—at least part of the time.
But with so many companies adding hybrid work to the options they provide for employees, how can you be sure you’ll have a good work experience? It will be important to consider how companies sustain constructive cultures, how they communicate and lead as well as how they foster career growth when work is at a distance. You won’t want to take these at face value. You’ll need to ask tough questions in order to ensure your remote experience will be a positive for your career and your life.
In addition, chances are you’ll face plenty of competition for remote jobs. While the number of roles is on the rise, there’s also a lot of interest from candidates—judging from how many people are exploring this area. A recent study by Lemon.io found the following trends in Google searches:
- Searches for “work when you want remote jobs” have risen by 556%
- Searches for “what remote jobs are in demand” are up 357%
- Searches for “remote positions” and “remote part-time jobs” are up 85% and 105% respectively, reaching an all-time high.
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7 Considerations for the Right Fit
With all the hubbub about remote work, finding your best remote opportunity will require two lines of thought—you’ll want to set yourself apart—but you’ll also want to interview the company to ensure the remote job they’re offering is really all they promise.
Setting Yourself Apart
Generally, organizations are struggling to find workers, but for remote jobs they tend to have more applicants. Given this dynamic, you’ll need to differentiate yourself from all the others who are also pursuing the position. You know how to do this overall, but you’ll need to focus on a few unique issues as you pull away from the pack for remote work.
#1 – Demonstrate Your Commitment to Results
Remote work demands a significant level of self-direction, personal integrity and work ethic, and these will be high on the list of what employers are seeking in an ideal candidate. When you’re home, you may hear the siren song of an afternoon nap or the show you want to binge—but you’ll need to stay focused on getting things done.
Be clear with the interviewer that you’re a hard worker and demonstrate this by providing examples of how you’ve delivered results in the past. Include examples from your volunteer work or community life as well as from your work history, because these demonstrate areas where you’ve made the effort and achieved outcomes without oversight.
#2 – Demonstrate Your Commitment to the Job and the Company
Hiring managers also want to know you’re interested in the particular job which is open, and not just trying to get a foot in the door of the company. In addition, they want to hear your commitment to them, rather than just your interest in working for any company on a remote basis.
They are challenged to maintain their cultures and ensure people feel a sense of shared purpose, so you can distinguish yourself by researching the job and the company and referring to specific aspects about each which interest and motivate you and which will keep you engaged and inspired to do great work.
#3 – Demonstrate Your Commitment to Communication, Connection and Community
Many companies are new to remote and hybrid work, so they are also learning about how to keep people connected. Maintaining community in a distanced world of work can be a struggle—requiring a high level of intentionality and investments of time.
Organizations will be most enthusiastic to hire those who are committed to being part of their community. Talk about how you communicate and your strengths in fostering relationships, building social capital, contributing to a collegial environment and nurturing connections. This emphasis on community and connections will be music to an employer’s ears.
Selecting the Right Opportunity
In addition to differentiating yourself in the process, you’ll need to be discerning about the organization you’re considering. Because so many companies didn’t offer remote work prior to the pandemic, they may not be very good at it yet. As a result, it will be critical to consider some key factors in your own assessments.
#4 – Ask About the Organization’s Culture
This consideration is a big deal because it sets the context for everything else. Ask the company about their culture and whether remote work (other than during the pandemic reaction) is new to them. If it’s new and they aren’t planning intentionally for how they manage it for the long term or how their policies, practices and processes support new ways of working, steer clear. But if it’s new to them and they’re actively taking steps to make remote work a part of their culture, you’ll be in better shape.
Also ask about how decisions are made and whether others are mostly in the office or also working on a remote basis. If you are in the minority of people working remote and will likely be left out of the loop, then the opportunity may be career limiting.
Also seek information about how the organization keeps people connected. Do they organize events to bring people together? Do teams have budgets for activities, retreats or regular face-to-face exchanges which will enhance bonding and belonging? If the organization is actively working to make all workers—remote and onsite—part of community, then you can feel good about the opportunity. On the other hand, if the commitment to remote work isn’t palpable, you may want to keep looking.
#5 – Ask About the Organization’s Leadership and Teams
In the same way many companies are new to remote as a strategy for the future of work, many leaders also need to build their skills in managing from a distance and engaging their teams. Get to know whether the company is developing leaders and learn more about expectations for leaders. Find out whether leadership development is part of the organization’s approach and whether there are avenues for plenty of feedback to leaders as well as between and among team members.
Distance work can make information flow tricky, and you’ll want to know that opportunities for input and participation are adequate to ensure the organization, leaders, teams and individuals can continuously learn and improve.
#6 – Ask About the Organization’s Approach to Career Progression
You’ll also want to ask about whether you’ll have the opportunity to grow and develop in your career. Many companies reward and promote those who are most accessible and who have greater visibility, and in these cases remote work may not be an optimal avenue for career advancement.
Ask about how the company is creating presence equity in which people have access to pay, promotion, learning and growth regardless of where they work. Find out whether career progression is more structured or whether it is more organic—so you know what it will take to advance and develop when you’re working from a distance.
#7 – Ask About the Organization’s Amenities
Also consider the ways in which the organization will set you up for success when you’re working remote or hybrid. Does their technology support you in your home office, and does the technology in the office support participants who are both remote and in the office (think: easy access, large displays, good acoustics, etc.).
Ask about whether there are offices available for you to come in when it’s necessary—either to a headquarters location or a work club. And learn whether the office is a place you would want to be—one which supports all kinds of work in a stimulating, interesting, connected environment. There may be times you want to be with your people in the office, so find out whether that’s an option.
Despite some companies requiring people to come back to the office full time, remote work is also here to stay with a critical mass of employers offering it, and many employees working from home at least part of the time.
New ways of working won’t be automatic, however. There will be a learning curve for both employees and employers, so you’ll want to be clear that you’re the right candidate and be sure you’re opting for the right job. With attention to each of these, you’ll find a fit which gives you the greatest opportunity to contribute and the highest levels of personal and professional fulfillment.