What exactly qualifies as “online work”? Does hybrid count?

Remote work is defined as working in an environment outside of a typical office space such as your home. Remote working provides the benefit of comfortably working at home or another space outside the office given the proper equipment and communication protocol.

Yes, hybrid counts. The time you spend working when you are not in a traditional office space is still online work and counts as “online work”.

Don’t you get lonely?

People lose the unplanned water cooler or cappuccino conversations with colleagues in remote work. These are actually big and important parts of the workday that have a direct impact on performance. How do we create those virtually? For some groups and individuals, it will be constant instant messaging. For others, it will be live phone conversations or videoconference. WhatsApp, Slack, Facebook or Instagram Messenger are often used for this.

However, not all of us get lonely. Having the freedom to wear whatever you want, have your whole fridge at your disposal, and put whatever you want on in the background can really make up for the things you’re “missing” in an office environment.

How do you get technical help if you’re working alone at home?

We’ve all been there: Just as you’re about to ask everyone if they can see your screen, your WiFi goes out, freezing your face on the screen in an unflattering shot. Other common obstacles run the gamut of malfunctioning hardware and software without the support of on-site IT team members.

Always have a plan B ready. Call into your Zoom meeting from your cell if your WiFi gives out, or even consider using an ethernet cable to connect your computer to your router for an extra reliable connection. Go to a coffee shop with WiFi. Restart your device/WiFi. Use a cell hotspot. Update software.  Identify the problem and search online for solutions. Working remotely, you will become savvy and creative at figuring out technical problems. Most of all, try to stay patient and calm: Most people will respond with empathy and patience if you’re struggling.

How do check-ins happen? As a group or one-on-one?

Check-ins are usually done over video/Zoom, but phone calls can also work. It is important to establish and maintain strong lines of communication when working online, so whatever method strengthens this relationship is best. Depending on the group size, scheduled weekly meetings will help ensure tasks are understood and completed on time; however, individual daily communication is often needed to function smoothly. Daily check-ins do not need to be formal and can be a simple Slack message to touch base or ask a question. Group calls/video meetings are great for creating a sense of Team and should also be scheduled regularly (weekly or at least monthly).

What kind of rituals or habits should I develop for remote work? How do I stay focused, committed, and happy?

Establish a routine and schedule. Separate your workspace from your home space. Limit distractions, and be sure to unplug at the end of the day. Schedule and take your breaks! Leave the house! Set your out-of-office message and get some face time with others. Get some exercise or movement–especially important if you sit at your desk all day. Set boundaries with other members of your household; you are WORKING even if you are at home.

Who provides tech or equipment? Other business expenses?

If you are working for one specific company, it’s extremely important to set a precedent early that you will ask for what you need to get your job done comfortably. These items include the right monitor, keyboard, mouse, chair, desk, printer, software, and so forth. Organizations that are accustomed to remote employees often have a budget for home office equipment. Ask what it is and how often it’s renewed. It also doesn’t hurt to ask whether there’s a loan agreement or who will pay for return shipping or disposal of outdated equipment. Some remote organizations allow employees to bring in a consultant to make sure their workspaces are set up to be ergonomic.

However, if you are operating your own remote business with many clients, you will need to provide equipment yourself. Consider this a tax write-off, but you still will need to front the cost of these items.

What kinds of hours can I expect? Long/odd hours? Flexible times?

The truth is that, for most of us, standard office hours are the norm. It’s the time when our kids are in school, our spouses are at work, the sun is up, etc. It also makes it much easier for us to collaborate when we have a common schedule with those in our time zone. This doesn’t mean that we never deviate from this schedule – having the flexibility is great when needed – it just means that most of us just go to our “home office” the same way that the rest of the world goes to their “away office” (without the commute, of course).

The other theory about working hours is that working from home is mainly for people who work with people in far-away time zones. It would be strange to go to an office at midnight, so if you have to work with a team halfway across the world, it makes sense that you’d do it from home.

This scenario exists but is rare. Having a time window where everyone you work with is online, or a specific time each week to check in, is important. This coordinated time allows for meetings, asking questions, and passing on important information.

What kinds of work can I do from home?

Virtual Assistant, Data Entry, Call Center Representative, Online Business Manager, Social Media Manager, Copywriter/Editor, Photo Editor, Website Designer/Technician, Telemarketer, Transcriptionist, Program Monitor, Translator, Travel Consultant, Customer Service Representative, Online Marketing Provider, Game Tester, Proofreader, Tutor, Medical Transcriptionist, Market Researcher, Legal Assistant, Technical Writer, Data Manager, Administrative Assistant, Accounting Clerk, Nutritionist, SEO Specialist…. And so many more!

Who sets my hours? How do I get time off?

You set your own hours based on the needs of your clients and what works for your life.

When you need time off, you simply inform your clients that you will be gone for the days you’ll be gone. You do not get paid for this time, but it’s also up to you what days you work and don’t work.

Is online work legitimate?

Absolutely! This is legitimate work that we are paid to do and pay taxes for earning.

What's the difference between working for one client vs many clients?

Working for one client has perks because you can focus on one business and not have to switch gears. The downside is that client tends to feel like you are at their constant beck and call. It’s very important to set boundaries in this situation.

Working for many clients means that you will have to manage your time based on different deadlines and really be in tune with what the top priorities are for each person. You will need to shuffle things as needed and sometimes switch between businesses very quickly. It’s very important to be clear about when you can get work done and what deadlines are realistic.

How will my "boss" know I’m actually working?

Answer #1: “She doesn’t”

Leading a team of remote employees, especially across multiple time zones, is not a job for micro-managers. It’s impossible to check in on everyone throughout the day or track the state of their status dots in Slack and keep your sanity. The “Management by Walking Around” (MBWA) strategy does not apply. This means that you need to trust your employees to keep themselves accountable, often before they’ve even proven that they can.

Answer #2: “Of course, she knows”

Keeping track of employee performance must be hard for every manager. Even when all your employees are in the office, how many of them are being productive? Most of today’s jobs can’t be measured simply by how many widgets each employee produces. Yet every boss still finds a way to figure out whether their employees are doing their share, and remote managers are no different.