A common theme appearing throughout the workforce is a flexible work environment also known as working remotely. This work style occurs outside of a traditional office environment such as an in-home office. By the end of the year, SDK will have three full-time remote employees and I have been given the opportunity to be one of them!
As I was pondering the decision to be a remote employee, I considered how this decision would affect my lifestyle and work style. There are multiple considerations one should think about when making a decision to work remotely:
1. Establish relationships: It is important to establish relationships with coworkers before making the transition to a remote worker. This type of work style lacks face-to-face interaction and there may be times that you will not be able to attend company meetings or you may miss out on coffee breaks and after-work drinks with coworkers. If you already have established relationships before transitioning to being a remote worker, your coworkers are more willing to keep you up-to-date on any important company information and are willing to make the time to have interactions with you when you are able to make it into the office. Any type of interaction will help you feel included as if you were actually in the office.
2. Dedicated Space: There may be certain areas within a home that may or may not be good areas to dedicate for a home office. It is important to have an area that is soundproof from background noises, no distractions present, and an area that allows you to not have to set up your computer each day. One may need to move their workspace around the home if a particular spot does not seem to be working as expected.
3. Technology: The improvements in technology have drastically changed the interactions a remote worker can have. With video conferencing such as Facetime and Join.me, it allows a remote worker to share their computer screen, have meetings online and allows for team collaboration. In addition, IP phones allow the remote worker to have a phone that moves calls and other information across an office network rather than a traditional phone network.
4. Scheduled Hours: Depending on where you live, it is important to understand any time-zone differences that may affect the hours that you are working. As I will be living in an area that doesn’t participate in day light savings, it will be important to remind coworkers when day light savings occurs because the time I will be starting work will vary throughout the year. For example, if it is 7am in the city I will be living, it may be either 8am or 9am in Minnesota depending on the time of year. In addition, it’s important to keep calendars up-to-date and perform daily check-ins as it will keep the remote worker and coworkers all on the same page.
5. Productivity Expectations: The expectations around the productivity of a remote worker may differ than coworkers that work in the office as there is typically more interruptions that occur in an office setting such as meetings, coworkers stopping by your desk to chat and other various noises around the office. It is important to discuss and understand what is expected of you including hours to be worked and when you need to be available.
6. Flexibility: A remote worker has a more flexible lifestyle and the convenience of being at home when needed. This is due to not having to travel into an office every day and the ability to rearrange the times when they will get their work done during the day to allow the individual to focus on things that matter to them outside of work.
Remote work is a skill that isn’t for everyone. This work style forces you to be a good communicator and to be more resourceful, as you now perform all roles that a traditional office may provide, such as an IT person. Some individuals may lack the discipline it takes to focus in a new environment. It is important to give yourself enough time working in the new environment to decide if it’s a good fit for your work style or not as it takes time to adjust to any type of environment. With all that said, I am excited about the opportunity to work remotely for SDK and I look forward to updating you on the experience as time passes!
Samantha Lass is a member of SDK’s Forensic and Valuation Services team. She’s moving to a different state at year-end.