Join Lauren Bacon for an in-depth discussion in this video Remote vs. on-site: What suits you best?, part of Web Career Clinic.
- [Instructor] Hi, I'm Lauren Bacon and this is the Web Career Clinic where I explore how to build a career you love making good stuff on the web. Here's a question your grandparents probably never considered. Where do you do your best work? The job market today has lots of options when it comes to your working environment. You might work onsite, remotely, or some combination of the two. Many organizations offer flexibility in the form of work from home days and the like. But, what if you're not sure what environment would work best for you? If you're thinking of switching it up from whatever it is you do now, or just curious about what you're options are, this installment is for you.
Now, I'm going to assume here that basic logistics are not an issue for you. In other words you live somewhere that has a decent job market for the work you do, so onsite work is available. And you also have the space, equipment, and connectivity to work from home or in a co-working space if you got a remote job. So, assuming that those things are true and that you're considering both onsite and remote work environments, here are some questions to consider. How much accountability and structure do you like to have in your day? Put another way, do you prefer to set your own agenda and are you self-disciplined enough to carry through with it? A lot of people struggle with that aspect of working remotely and there's no shame in that.
Many of us find it easier to knuckle down and focus when there's a bit of social pressure in the mix. So, if that's the case for you, remote work might not be as easy for you. Or, perhaps you'd better off working in a co-working space where there are other folks around you. Another question to think about is how much close collaboration you enjoy. There's no question that face to face collaboration is easier and often more effective than collaborating long distance. So, if you're work is highly collaborative, onsite work might be a better fit.
This is especially true if your role entails a lot of communication across teams and those teams are typically onsite. How about remote communication tools? How comfortable are you using them in doing a significant amount of your communication and writing? Remote workers typically connect with their teams using tools like Slack, e-mail, Skype, and phone. So, if those are outside of your comfort zone, that's something to think about. You might also want to consider how closely your job satisfaction is tied to your organization's culture.
Because remote work puts you at a bit of a distance from them. You can miss out on team lunches, informal conversations, and even subtle things like the physical environment and the office vibe, for lack of a better term, can make a big different in your work life. On the other hand, if the onsite work space doesn't work for you, that might be a factor that tips you over into preferring remote work. Maybe the office is open concept but you like to work with your head down most of the day. Or, perhaps the commute is really onerous.
It's good to think about where you're going to get your best work done and see if you can match your day to day environment accordingly. While we're talking about the rest of the organization, obviously it helps to think how the rest of the organization is structured. If you work remotely, but you're in the minority, meaning most people are in the office together, that can be tricky. The old saying out of sight, out of mind can be true here. And you might get left out of conversations that you'd like to be a part of. If you're considering a remote position, it's a good idea to ask your perspective employer what opportunities there are for face to face time with your colleagues.
Because there's a certain amount of serendipity and innovation that's much more likely to happen in person. I'm not talking about meetings but rather about informal gatherings, whether they're social in nature, or more work focused. Finally, at the risk of sounding cheesy, I think one of the big questions to ask yourself if you're thinking that remote work might be the right fit for you is do I need to be forced to leave the house? I'm smiling as I say this but I know quite a few remote workers who say that this is a real pitfall.
Working from home can be comfortable and convenient, sometimes, too much so. I won't go so far as to advise you not to take a remote opportunity because you think you might wind up in the same pair of pajamas for four days, but if you do choose to take a remote gig, you might want to give some thought to how you can mitigate that risk. The right environment makes a huge difference to your level of job satisfaction. So, do spend some time thinking about this question and make it a priority. And remember, many employers are willing to negotiate a mix of both.
So, if that suits you best, bring it up with the folks you work for. That's it for this week's Web Career Clinic. Tune in next time as I explore another topic for web professionals. And if you have questions about your web career, hit me up on Twitter at @laurenbacon using the #ProWebClinic. See you next week.
Tune in every Wednesday for a weekly "small dose" of advice, an explanation, or an interview with a web veteran. Lauren Bacon has mentored and coached many web professionals as they were starting out and loves sharing all that she's learned from her 15-year career as a designer, front-end developer, and agency principal.