Many companies have shied away from advertising remote jobs or even offering the option to work remotely because of perceptions of mismanagement or low productivity. I would argue companies that suffer from a lack of remote employee engagement is more of a reflection on the quality of employee hired. When an employee is a traditional employee that has been fired the company normally chalks it up to hiring a “bad apple” but when that employee worked remotely it’s often blamed on the lack of oversight and perceived lack of accountability of being remote. Working remotely does take a certain type of person but when you hire the right person to do the right job, it truly doesn’t matter whether that person is in a physical office or working from home, anywhere around the world.
I’d like to share a piece written by Alexis Miller, Social Media Coordinator for MILLIE, wherein she discusses how working remotely has actually enhanced her productivity. This is true of many companies that offer remote opportunities but the key is to hire the right person for the right job. If you hire a military spouse, guaranteed you are going to get a phenomenal remote employee!
5 Ways Working From Home Made Me A Better Employee
The day I started working for MILLIE as their Social Media Coordinator is the day I realized I’m made to work from home. (Oh, and that moment when I married a service member). After months of searching for a job, any job, I was hired for a 100 percent remote position. This being my first experience working from home, I was a bit nervous. Would I be able to handle the responsibility? How could I prove my trustworthiness to my boss who I wouldn’t see face-to-face everyday? Was I really allowed to schedule my day the way I wanted to?
It only took me a couple weeks to get into the swing of things, but that’s when I began to see a change in myself that I never noticed before. I became a better employee. With each passing day I noticed subtle changes in how I approached work and work/life balance. Here the five ways working from home made me a better employee.
1. Helped Me Become A Better Communicator
When you work from home you have to become a better communicator. There’s no looking over the cubicle to ask your co-worker to clarify their email. There’s no running to your boss’ office to have a discussion about your great idea.
Communicating with anyone (be it a co-worker, client, partner, or networking contact) through any means of communication (like Facebook messenger, e-mail, Slack, phone call or text) requires a level of precision not necessarily required when working with someone directly.
I noticed I took more time to draft emails; I stopped to formulate my thoughts before responding to a client on Facebook messenger; I wrote and rewrote my idea or explanations before sending them to my boss so she could understand them the first time around. Is it a work in progress? Of course. But the way in which I communicate has become more intentional and it’s thanks to my work-from-home job.
2. Allowed Me To Tap Into My Ideal Work Rhythm
This one is big for me. At MILLIE we make PCS’ing easier for military families by offering free information on duty stations across the U.S., utilizing a network of Scouts who can help you find a rental home long-distance, and connecting members of the military with a network of veteran and military spouse real estate agents who can help you start the homebuying process before you arrive at your next duty station.
While the work my team does is important, it’s not life or death. When I was hired and told I could set my own work schedule, I of course initially started my day at 7am. I wanted to make a good impression on my team from the start! But as time passed, I realized that they really meant what they said; I can work during hours that fit my schedule, just as long as the work is getting done.
I began to experiment with my work day, in an attempt to discover when I had the most productivity. And you know what? Starting between 7 and 7:30 a.m. everyday is when I’m most productive. Most of my good ideas come in the mornings and I’m the most energized right after my shower. Working from home provided me the opportunity to discover that.
3. Gave Me The Agency To Do My Job
I’ve worked in the corporate environment where you have to send accountability emails, approve your work schedule with your boss, show up to every flippin’ meeting on the schedule, and run any and every inkling of an idea by your boss, your boss’ boss and your boss’ boss’ boss. It drained me of my creativity and made me feel like I had no agency in my job.
Working from home empowered me to be the employee I knew I could be: someone who’s quick on the uptake, knowledgeable, and a hard worker with the occasional great idea. From the start my boss repeatedly told me she wasn’t into micromanaging me and that she expected me to make decisions on my own. It was only after a series of situations and decisions made from my end that I realized she really did mean it, and that I was a better employee for it.
I felt comfortable enough to bring up my ideas, to make executive decisions related to social media and to implement new strategies I wanted to try, all because I didn’t have someone breathing down my neck during the day. What have I gained from this? A love for my job and a flow of creativity that I bring to work everyday.
4. Helped Me Become A Better Problem Solver
This may sound goofy, but when I started working from home, I became my own IT person. If something went wrong with my computer or I couldn’t figure out how to work a web application, it was up to me to fix it.
Sure, I could reach out to my team to ask for guidance, but I was the only one who could solve my own problem. More than once I’ve logged into GoToMeeting and for whatever reason, my video or microphone won’t work. Not only can no one hear me, but no one else except me can click around on my computer to try to fix the problem.
I also learned, from several incidences, that it’s better to troubleshoot first, before asking for help. It’s not a fear of being reprimanded that drives me to do this; it’s a respect for my fellow teammates’ time. Why ask them for help if I can solve the issue on my own? I’m amazed how many issues I was able to solve on my own by simply clicking around a little bit. If confronted with a problem, my go-to strategy is to find a solution myself. If that doesn’t work, I reach out to my teammates who of course will help me out.
5. Boosted My Confidence
All four of the previous lessons lead up to this final point: Working from home helped me become more confident in the person and employee that I am. Not only do I have the honor to work for an amazing company that offers useful services to military families, but I have the freedom to help grow that company in my unique way.
Becoming a better communicator, finding my ideal work rhythm, developing better problem solving skills, and having the agency to do my job made me feel like a trusted and valued employee for the first time in my life. This boost in confidence also revealed to me that my passions and ideas are beneficial to the company. Not sharing those talents with my team would be a disservice to myself and them.
Working from home helped me realized there’s a certain level of confidence I should always carry around with me because I am a hard worker. I do have good ideas and I can be trusted to manage my time and get work done.
Did I think landing a remote job was a pipe-dream? Absolutely. Was I nervous when I finally did land said pipe-dream-job? You bet. But this opportunity worked out well for everyone involved because I’m the right person for my job. I’m passionate about changing the way military families PCS. And that passion is visible in every Facebook post, Instagram photo, graphic, and article I create. It really doesn’t matter that I live in North Carolina and my boss is in Germany. What matters is my way of being productive allows me to be the best employee I can be. By taking this opportunity and working hard, I learned more about myself than I ever expected.