Monthly Archives: December 2016

Are You Need One Job for Work From Home

So, you’ve realized all the amazing benefits of remote working—like being able to earn a living from your living room and being more focused and effective at what you do—and you’re ready to go online and get a remote job.

Or are you? Before you go after that position, you need to know how to shine when you’re looking for a remote job. Of course, all the standard job search rules apply—have an updated and proofread resume, make sure your social media is squeaky clean, and have well thought-out questions for the interview. But employers hiring remote workers are looking for a little bit more. So, make sure you show that you have these seven key skills covered if you want to land a remote job.

 

1. Organization

When you work remotely, your boss won’t be looking over your shoulder—or even able to stop by your cubicle—to see if you’re staying on top of your tasks. You’ve got to keep yourself on track.

To prove that you always know what needs to be done and when, emphasize in your resume, application email, and interview the jobs or projects you’ve done that have required managing many moving pieces, and talk about how you kept everything coordinated.

For example, perhaps you were responsible for both creating content for the company blog and answering customer service emails—and you balanced the priorities perfectly. Or, maybe you gathered stories from contributors, contracted with the printer, and oversaw the distribution of the newsletter each month as a volunteer at your child’s school. Give the details of how you did that, and remember to refer to the tools you use—like Trello, Asana, or Basecamp for project management or Google Drive or Dropbox for collaboration—since these are exactly the kinds of tools you’ll be using for remote working.

 

2. Communication

Keeping in touch when you work remotely is absolutely crucial—think email, online chat, video meetings, and maybe phone and text messages, too.

You should be familiar with the most common tools used, and, when it comes time to contact your potential employer, you should show that you’re willing and able to use them. That means offering to have an interview via Google+ Hangouts or Skype or to jump on an online chat to go through the details of your test assignment.

You also need to have top-notch communication. Be very prompt to reply to any contact from employers. Keep your messages clear, concise, and correct (in other words, read, edit, and then proofread one more time before pressing “send”). And be extra sure you have all your equipment and home office in order well before any video calls.

 

3. Time-Consciousness

Since you’ll probably be working in a different region than at least some, if not all, of your team, you’ll have to be extra aware of time zones. And, because remote working sometimes makes it difficult to know what your co-workers are doing at any particular moment, you also need to be sensitive about using their time.

So, make a point to include dates and time zones when you suggest or agree to meetings or deadlines with an interviewer. So, if you’re in San Francisco and the company is in New York, you can say, “I’d be happy to talk with you tomorrow, Monday March 16, at 10 AM Pacific Time (San Francisco) / 1 PM Eastern Time (NYC).”

Then, when you are talking with a prospective employer, make sure that you respect the time limits set. Or, if there weren’t any set in advance, at the beginning of the conversation, say something like, “It’s great to get to talk to you. I want to make sure we can cover everything we need to—can you let me know how much time you have now?” And then be sure to wrap up the talk before then.

Negotiate Besides Salary

By now, you probably know that a salary is negotiable.

But that’s just one of the workplace policies and perks up for discussion. Whether it’s explicitly said or not, things like flexible working arrangements, maternity or paternity leave, and even the projects you get to work on may not be set in stone.

Of course, this doesn’t mean you should start making demands during first-round interviews or during week one of a new job. But if you’re a valued team member, or starting a senior position, you have a lot more leeway.

“Employees at the start of their career may not have much leverage,” says David Lewis, president and CEO of OperationsInc, a Stamford, CT–based human resources outsourcing and consulting company. “But those with five or more years experience are often in a position to work with their employers to find solutions that make their job a better fit for their lifestyle.”

So, get ready to speak up. Here are five things beyond your salary that you may be able to negotiate—and expert advice on the best way to approach each.

 

1. Flex Time

Contrary to popular belief, many of us aren’t working strict 9-to-5s. Four out of five employees around the world with graduate degrees report having access to flexible working arrangements of some sort, according to a 2013 survey from nonprofit research group Catalyst.

Lest you think flex time is primarily of interest to working moms, the survey found that 50% of all workers without children at home declared flexible working arrangements “very or extremely important.” “Compressed workweeks, reduced work schedules, job sharing, and staggered start and end times are no longer the exception to the rule,” says Anna Beninger, senior research associate at Catalyst who authored the report.

 

How to Get It

First, figure out what exactly it is that you want—instead of asking for broad “flex time,” you should ask for a specific modification, like working from home on Fridays, or leaving an hour early twice a week. Once you’ve narrowed that down, advises Beninger, “ask your supervisor or HR if there’s an existing policy in place, or if they’d consider it.”

Then, she advises, come up with a detailed plan of how you’d fulfill—or even exceed—your current responsibilities under the flex working arrangement, and present it to your supervisor orally or in writing (depending on your comfort level and relationship). If your supervisor is reluctant, consider suggesting a trial period: You would work the modified schedule for six to eight weeks, then make the arrangement more permanent if they’re pleased with your contributions during that time.

 

2. Promotions and Titles

Think you’re only able to jump a spot on the org chart when it’s time for your annual review? Think again. “If you’ve added value to your organization, even over a several-month period, you may be eligible for a promotion,” says New York City–based career coach and counselor Lynn Berger. “If that’s the case, you should pursue it,” she adds. “The longer you wait to move to your next position, the longer it will take you to move toward your major career goals.”

 

How to Get It

Lay the groundwork by proving yourself a valuable employee (you can start with these tips straight from real bosses) and keeping an eye out for opportunities to ask for advancement. When you approach your manager to ask for consideration, you want to make a good case.

Take an Adult Snow Day

One blessed day two winters ago, the city where I lived urged residents to stay home and off the roads and public transit. Shortly thereafter, a much-anticipated email from my boss arrived, notifying us that the office was closed. We were all to work from home.

It was cause for celebration in the form of homemade pancakes, followed by a snowball fight with my partner and our dog, followed by steaming cups of hot chocolate and a long, lazy afternoon nap.

But, first, I begrudgingly realized, I would have to attend to my inbox. And write that article I was supposed to have into my editor by EOD. Oh, and I’d have to edit the daily newsletter. I prayed that it would only go through one round of edits and not three or four as was sometimes the case when my boss decided she didn’t like my choice of imagery or the word I used to describe Beyonce’s parenting skills.

As is true with most jobs, there’s always something to be done—whether that’s on a snow day or at 6 PM on a Tuesday when you’re trying to meet your buddy at the gym. Here’s how to handle working (read: hardly working) during a blizzard, even if your boss is the micro-managing type.

 

1. Check Your Email

After your inbox alerts you to the fact that your office is closed or that you don’t need to go to work if it’s “difficult for you to get there,” you’ll want to deal with any outstanding emails right away. Reply to your boss first, if she was the one to share the snow-day news. If the office manager or someone else wrote the company-wide email, touch base with your manager. Let her know specifically what’s on your agenda for the day and what you plan to turn in before EOD. Respond to any emails that require speedy responses, and mark the others unread to deal with the next day.

Then, turn the volume all the way up on your computer and make your way into the kitchen where bacon awaits. If anyone pings you, you’ll hear the alert, and you’ll get to it just as soon as it’s safe to leave the frying pan.

 

2. Tackle Projects of Priority

You’ll want to do this before noon so you can—you guessed it—go out and play! My partner works for himself, so luckily, we didn’t have to deal with two people’s WFH schedules and unavoidable responsibilities. While I edited the company newsletter, I sent him to turn on a TV show I could have on in the background, promising him that I needed only 30, 40 minutes, tops. Whatever your priority is, get to it first. Even if you have until end of the workday, you’ll regret putting it aside. Face the work that needs attention straight away and make sure whoever needs to know of its completion is aware that you’ve done it.

Then, once any urgent projects are completed, you can commence binge-watching Hulu’s latest original series while you languor in your PJs. You’re on group-chat, not video chat, after all. And on that note, if you’re expected to be on chat, be on it all day. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean sitting in front of your computer—if you haven’t downloaded the app on your phone, today’s the day to do it.