The Anatomy of a Successful Remote Worker

By: Laurel Farrer

Yonder exists because remote work is different than co-located work. It requires different management, different tools, and even different professional skills. If you’re thinking of becoming a virtual employee, consider brushing up on these habits and highlighting them in your CV to help you land that awesome remote job. We can guarantee distributed companies will be watching out for them during the hiring process, and these will contribute to your employee success after your first day.


1. Proactivity

We’re not going to sugar coat this: remote work is not for dependent personalities. If you rely on other people or things to motivate, energize, or manage you, working autonomously both physically and logistically could be a bad match for you. Remote work is measured by results, and if you’re not willing to set your own pace, you’re going to fall behind. You won’t have the luxury of overhearing a conversation that reminds you to submit that article, and no one is going to see you struggling with that layout and come over to help. You are in charge of yourself. Take action. If you’re not sure how your self-sufficiency is measuring up, here’s a way to take your temperature: Are you independently in control of your time, your tasks, and your energy? Ask yourself these questions to figure out where you might have weaknesses, then tighten up loose screws, as needed.


2. Open Communication

In the virtual world, you are what you share. One of the best professional development skills that you can work on for remote work is your ability to effectively communicate when limited to digital formats. This means you need to dust off your business writing skills, be accessible and prompt in responses, speak transparently (nonverbal communication is limited when you’re not in-person), and be proactive with asking questions. In a remote office, your keyboard is your primary tool - use it.


3. Problem-Solving

Working independently requires being independent. If you want the luxury of not being tied down to a specific location while working, you have to be prepared to be self-reliant. The people connected with you won’t be within arm’s reach for support and assistance. When you’re on a global team, there will be times when the only person who can answer your question is asleep on the other side of the world, and you’re still expected to meet a deadline. Be resourceful and creative as you solve the problem - including asking others for help. Yes, you read that correctly. Solving the problem means finding the solution, but you don’t have to find it alone. Who can get you the information you need? Who can help you to get this task done? Many problems require help. But if you don’t ask for help, no one is going to know that you need it.


4. Virtual Professionalism

If you were blatantly ill-mannered and socially abrasive while working in an office, you might be in danger of losing your job. The standards of ethics and professionalism are no lower in a distributed company. You won’t need to hold the elevator door for anyone or wear a suit and tie, but you will need to have basic netiquette standards down pat and be aware of others in circumstances unique to remote work. Overall, remember that you’re a human and you’re working with other humans… please act like it.


5. Self-Management

This can also relate to your health habits. Never has the temptation to be an overworked, sedentary working drone been stronger. I speak from experience when I say that ten hour shifts with poor posture and no exercise are not uncommon in remote work. Do yourself (and your health insurance!) a favor - utilize your flexible schedule to get more exercise, straighten your back, shop locally for healthy food, and get work done faster to focus on hobbies and relationships.


6. Information Filtering

You don’t consider how many mediums through which you receive information in an office until you start working remotely. Suddenly that chat over the cubicle wall, memo from the executive assistant and announcement on the bulletin board are all coming through one screen. It can start to feel like draining a swimming pool through a funnel. Developing an ability to filter information will serve you well. Does this need to be done now, or can it wait? Is this a task that requires quiet, focused energy, or is it just a lightweight task? Can I solve this problem myself, or do I need help? Should I send this message urgently as a text or as a low-priority Slack message? Sorting your information, communication, and tasks will help you find better flow with your time and energy.


7. Trust Building

Trust is the key to making remote work work. When you can’t see or talk with your team at any given moment, you must believe they are working just as hard as you are to meet your goals. Doubt, worry, or micromanagement will only divide your team and hinder your results. Please note that trust is a bridge. It needs to be supported at both ends. Just as much as you need to be trusting, you also need to be trustworthy. Review these questions and tips to make sure you’re holding up your end, no matter which side of the bridge you’re on.

Are there any other essential skills you think remote workers need? Tweet us @yonder_io to tell us what you’d add to this list.

Laurel Farrer is the COO here at Yonder. She always has a notebook and pen within arm's reach, never sits with both feet on the floor, and drives (safely) without depth perception.