3 Ways to Make Your Work-From-Home Job Work for You (and Not the Other Way Around)

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For employees who dream of a remote working arrangement, the allure is in having more flexibility to manage the day-to-day needs of real-life and work life. Work-from-home arrangements allow a certain amount of flexibility to prep dinner and switch the laundry during short breaks. But for some, the reality only makes the balance worse. Some employers feel that they have around-the-clock access to their remote employees, or they mismanage the relationship with intrusive tracking measures.

If you’re looking for a great work-from-home opportunity, here are a few tips to help you choose the right one.

Look for a Company that has an Established Remote Work Culture

It’s no secret that some companies are embracing the new normal of remote work quicker than others. While many still see pandemic-era remote work as temporary, there are plenty of companies that are transitioning to remote-first, hybrid, and entirely remote workforces. These companies have taken the time to hammer out the details of their remote working arrangements and they can provide you with clear expectations.

You’ll benefit from a clear asynchronous communication plan, benefits appropriate for remote workers, and an arrangement that works for you. Here are a few examples of companies that are getting work-from-home right:

Australian-Based Technology Giant, Atlassian

The company has more than 600 employee reviews with a 4.6-star rating attributed to a friendly workforce and smooth, organized change management. Atlassian is a software as a service (SaaS) company that specializes in team communication and project management solutions, so they’re especially poised to excel at keeping teams connected because it’s what they do.

Top perks of working for Atlassian:

  • Service-Minded Values: Employees receive five days of paid leave for volunteering.

  • Remote Worker Allocation: Remote employees receive a budget for co-working spaces or home office equipment.

  • Focused on Growth: Big investments in growth and development opportunities for employees.

E-Commerce Platform, Shopify

The tech world seems to be the earliest adopters of remote-first and remote-friendly employment opportunities. Shopify labels itself as “digital by default,” offering employees a remote-first workplace. Shopify makes it easy for anyone to set up an online store with integrated payments and marketing tools. They also power the e-commerce services behind major brands like Fitbit, Hyatt Hotels Corp, Whole Foods Market, and Kraft Heinz Inc.

Top perks of working for Shopify:

  • Home Office Allowance: Get a budget to set up your remote workspace.

  • Integrated Workplace Wellness: Shopify helps its employees make boundaries and work-life balance a priority with an endless array of tools and the right attitudes about remote workers and balance.

  • Virtual Teambuilding: Shopify makes time for connection a part of daily rituals with short, fifteen-minute virtual hangouts to start the day for some teams and tools like Slack for casual chatter, ideas, and inspiration.

Fan-Favorite Freelancer Platform, Upwork

Possibly the most flexibility you could ever have comes from Upwork. The platform is designed for freelancers who tend to work remotely. But if you’re looking for the consistency of a payroll check, the company Upwork hires its talent remote-first as well. The company has two US-based corporate offices in Santa Clara, California, and Chicago, Illinois. But they also make good use of a remote workforce, which makes sense because their platform specializes in connecting remote freelancers with opportunities.

Top perks of working for Upwork:

Unlimited PTO: Get the time you need to focus on what’s important in your life.

  • Pre-Tax, Subsidized Technology: Get your hands on the technology that you need to work and play with steep discounts and great tax benefits

  • On-Demand Back-Up Childcare: Even work-from-home parents could use a break from the constant interruption of their kids.

Set and Enforce Boundaries

Aside from feelings of isolation, remote workers struggle the most with unplugging and walking away from the job during non-working hours. Almost one in five remote workers surveyed report personal boundary issues–either they aren’t great at enforcing them or their employers abuse them.

Before accepting a work-from-home position, work out the particulars with your employer on:

  • Set work hours and communication preferences.

  • Home office expectations and budget.

  • Work location flexibility for travel, co-working spaces, or coffee shops to get a change of scenery.

  • Teambuilding opportunities for remote teams.

  • Mental health and well-being support.

Look for the Right Opportunities

Keep in mind that ‘remote’ doesn’t necessarily mean ‘remote.’ There are a few different definitions when it comes to remote work. Everybody seems to be doing it a little differently. As you read job descriptions and apply to jobs, ask the right questions to make sure you are really getting what you’re looking for.

Ask about your position as well as the makeup of the department you’ll be in and the company. You want to make sure that everyone is fully on-board with your idea of remote working before you give the go-ahead. Here are some common variations of remote work jobs:

  • 100% Remote Positions or a Distributed Company: Some companies offer fully-remote positions as a mix of different types of working arrangements. This means that you will never be expected to report to the office, but some of your colleagues might, which can create unique challenges for team communication.

  • 100% Remote Company: Everyone in the company works remotely–it’s the norm.

  • Remote-First Company: Employees are offered the opportunity to work remotely or in the office, or a combination of both, with remote work being the first priority. Arrangements vary by company, but you may be expected to work in sometimes while being allowed a significant amount of time as a remote employee.

  • Flex-Work or Hybrid: Similar to remote first, but these companies don’t prioritize remote-first, so you’re likely to see more office time requirements.

Keep in mind that contract worker and freelancer positions are commonly remote or have no specific workspace or geographic requirements. However, these positions are different from being an employee of the company and typically do not include benefits.

The Bottom Line

Finding the right work-from-home job takes diligence. In a world where everybody is seemingly inventing their own approach to remote work, you cannot count on familiar definitions. Make sure to read job descriptions and requirements carefully and ask the right questions as you look for opportunities. Ultimately, you want to find a company that embraces remote work as part of its culture. These companies expect and respect remote worker boundaries and have clearly defined plans with appropriate support tools to make remote teams work. 

Dan McCabe
Dan McCabe

Long time remote worker with the dream of enabling everyone to join the remote workforce. Owner and Editor of caniworkfromhere.com.

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