As with most of the good things in life, there’s this less pleasant side to everything; the side which often requires great sacrifice, changing your lifestyle and asking yourself – is this good thing good for me?
If you can confidently and unwaveringly identify yourself with the following statements, you don’t have to shy away from the idea of starting to work remotely, even today.
You have a willpower of steel
Be honest with yourself – if you really want something in life and the path towards it is paved with obstacles and self-sacrifice, do you just knuckle down, suck it up and get down to work with verve and enthusiasm? Do you tend not to give up easily?
If so, then you might be well-suited to working remotely because success as a remote worker takes grit, (a hell of a lot of) self-discipline and intentionality.
No, nobody will notice if you play video games for a few hours or take a long nap in mid-afternoon… Actually, you can do whatever you want with your time, as there’s no peer pressure or a boss spying on you in a remote work environment.
But that’s the thing. Can you not do any of these even when nobody’s looking?
As a remote worker (and this can’t be stressed enough) – you have to be a master of self-control, able to bounce off distractions without batting an eye. You need to be able to act like an in-house employee without being one.
Which brings us to the next point.
You’re able to stick to a “normal person’s” work schedule with no one pushing you around
There’s a silly illusion about the digital nomad lifestyle that thanks to your flexible schedule you’re able to float through your days “as free as a bird”, all the while remaining massively productive at the same time. Nope, that’s not how it works.
Quite paradoxically, with becoming the boss of your own time comes the realization that 9 to 5 isn’t that bad of an idea after all.
Zoning in on your assignments between 8am and 6pm your local time will help you create a system ensuring that you actually do the work that needs to be done.
Having defined boundaries for the start and end of your workday is great because otherwise you’re running the risk of underworking or overworking.
Digital workaholics, for instance, might be inclined to work around the clock and burn themselves out as a result (which isn’t something their virtual bosses would be particularly happy about).
You need to be able to power through for eight hours and “turn it off” at the end of your workday. While nobody’s watching, of course.
Without this strict routine, your dream IT job will remain a pipe dream.
You take pride in your individualism and are comfortable working alone
If you have always regarded yourself as a staunch individualist, you’ll have an easier time adapting to working remotely because in a remote environment you’ll often be forced to make an important decision without being prodded or told what to do.
Not everyone is cut out for this. Some people would suffer if they were denied the opportunity to be micromanaged and work in a face-to-face team, seriously.
You also need to have a healthy dose of introversion. You can’t be that guy/girl fighting the irresistible urge to talk to someone every ten minutes, like swapping stories over the water cooler. This trait is necessary to have for very prosaic reasons, because… well, the job description of a remote developer usually requires zero human interaction.
That said, you don’t have to be a hard-core introvert in order to become a successful remote worker. Hey, there’s a reason why so many co-working spaces have sprouted over the past years, not to mention the invention of virtual water coolers. Yes, digital nomads do aggregate and want to stay social.
You’re good at communicating virtually
Given the fragile nature of virtual relationships, with non-verbals and facial expressions being removed from the equation, you better know how to convey text, context and subtext via virtual tools as skilfully as possible, without any of it being woefully misinterpreted.
Virtual communication tools will become more important than ever, whether that be video calling, instant messaging tools or plain old email.
It also goes without saying that as a remote worker you should always be reachable during the workday. You should definitely not take a digital detox vacation without duly informing your virtual boss about it in advance.
In the same vein, be someone who knows how to compose a message that’ll guarantee a quick response.
… and you’re not paranoid
BUT, if your client or employer hasn’t responded to your last email in a few days it doesn’t have to mean that you’re fired or that you composed your message in a slipshod fashion. They might just as well have gone down with flu.
In other words, you also need to be that person who doesn’t freak out in the face of ambiguity. In order to succeed as a remote worker, you’ll have to be comfortable with a certain amount of uncertainty and try your hardest to suppress whatever paranoia you possess. And no, your in-house colleagues most certainly won’t have a reason to be gossiping about you. You can take our word for it.
The prospect of working from anywhere gives you goosebumps of anticipation
Severely bitten by the remote lifestyle bug? Then there’s no need for explaining this one.
So, what about taking the plunge and applying for your first remote gig?
Only actually doing it will show you whether remote work is right for you or not, and the sooner do it, the sooner you’ll be able to reap all the benefits.