The transition from working in the office to working remotely can be stressful and difficult. Don’t expect to find a good balance between work and the rest of your life in your first few weeks away from the team. That comes later in the process, and later in this book. Just focus on the first month.
How you behave in the first few weeks of working remotely sets the tone of your new working relationship with your team. Take the time to explain your transition to them.
Have good reasons for working remotely and share them. Tell your team all the reasons you told your boss. It will help them feel more involved in the process. Your boss gives you permission, but your team will make you successful.
Reassure your team that you aren’t leaving them. You aren’t working remotely to leave your team; tell them that. Make it as clear as possible that you want to remain an active part of your team.
Make it very easy to contact you. Let your coworkers know you will be only a phone call away and encourage them to call you whenever they need to. Make a point to be even more available during your first few weeks working remotely.
Leaving the office is a major transition. Spend some time with the rest of your team before you leave. This may be your last chance to see them face-to-face for a while. Make your working relationships as solid as possible. If you have any outstanding issues with other people try to resolve them before leaving the office.
Hit the ground running. Set up your office, computer, telephone, and Internet connection ahead of time. The balance section at the end of this book has many tips for setting up a home office. Get them sorted out ahead of time so you can start working as soon as your first remote workday starts.
I spent my first remote week glued to my computer, afraid to miss even one instant message. It got better for me and it will for you. Focus on productivity and communication; your first week will be over soon and you can find a routine that works for you in the long term.
During your first week focus on only three things: productivity, availability, and not being too hard on yourself . Create something your first week. It doesn’t really matter what it is, but it has to be tangible. Just pick one area and show your team that you are still working hard.
Be available from the first minute of your first day. You will have time to establish boundaries and find a routine later. At the beginning be there for every phone call, IM, and email.
Stay relaxed during your first week. Your team will need a little while to get used to communicating with you in this new way. Don’t expect them to get back to you as quickly as they did in the office. They will get better with time.
It takes a few weeks to establish a routine. At the beginning your schedule will be a little erratic. Do what you can to maintain stability, but don’t worry about establishing a schedule.
Transitioning to a remote job is a beginning and like any beginning, it sets the tone. You can make your life as a remote engineer a lot easier by planning the transition and executing it well. Focus on the short term at first. There will be time for longer-term planning later. For now focus on:
- Making your first week go well.
- Communicating well with your team.
- Hitting the ground running.
Transitioning from a current in the office job makes it much easier to convince your boss to let your work remotely. Everyone knows who you are and what a good job you do. If you lay the groundwork and plan ahead you’ll get permission to work remotely. Then you need to make it work.