We’re in the middle of a great resignation, as employees exit jobs at unprecedented rates. Additionally, many job hunters are looking for remote work opportunities and flexibility, especially if they are leaving a company that is preventing them from working from home beyond the pandemic.
Applicants searching for remote roles will find an abundance of options—far more than were available in 2019. But it’s crucial to know that not all remote work opportunities are equal; just because a company offers remote work doesn’t mean they have an effective remote workplace, nor does it mean that you will enjoy their approach.
Before accepting a new job, ask these four essential questions to ensure it’s the right remote workplace for you.
What are your company’s core values?
One key indicator of a successful remote organization is a healthy company culture. And healthy cultures typically are built on core values. You need to get a sense in the interview process of what a company’s core values are and, more crucially, how they are recognized and represented in the company’s daily functions.
Effective core values should differentiate a company’s culture and drive employee behavior and decision making. Ideally, they are the traits an employee must demonstrate to gain recognition or advancement in the organization. This is especially true in remote organizations—when employees are not in the same workspace as colleagues or managers, it’s important to have values that everyone uses as guidelines for how they show up for work.
If the person interviewing you can speak passionately about the company’s core values, and how they are taught and upheld in the company, that’s a good sign for the organization’s cultural health. If they can’t or seem to just be wall art, beware.
What percentage of employees are remote overall or on my team?
When evaluating a potential remote work job, it’s crucial to ask just how prevalent remote work is at the company, or within a team. Do most employees work from home at least some of the time, or are you going to be one of the first fully remote employees at the company?
While remote work always has some benefits—the lack of a commute, for one—it can be isolating to be the only remote worker on your team, or one of only a handful in the company. Ideally, you want to be on a level playing field with your colleagues, whether that means being one of many remote employees on a team, or at an organization where remote employees have equal opportunities for collaboration, recognition and advancement as your in-office peers.
If you learn that few people at your potential workplace work remotely, ask how the organization ensures remote employees feel included. The answer to that question will be revealing.
How often do people get together in person?
There’s a misconception that employees who enjoy remote work don’t want to connect with their colleagues in person. You want to work at a company that has highly impactful in-person connection opportunities, either for work or socially. Even something as simple as a well-planned, engaging all-company annual summit can create an incredible level of depth over a few days of bonding and learning together in person.
Companies that offer remote work can, and should, create valuable in-person experiences for their teams. Many remote companies, including Acceleration Partners, hire employees in hubs, or large pockets of talent in certain geographic areas, to make it easier to execute these types of programs. Ask interviewers if their company does these types of in-person events, and how often they’ll give you the chance to connect and collaborate in person.
How often am I expected to come to the office?
This is a crucial question to ask when applying to a hybrid workplace, where some employees are in the office and others work from home. Few things are more stressful for a remote employee than being called into the office on short notice for a meeting, training or other in-person work. Plus, your company’s expectations on how often you’ll come to the office may determine where you decide to live.
If an interviewer can’t give you a sense of how often you’ll have to come into the office, and what the company’s established policy is, that’s not a great sign. You may be walking into a situation where you are frequently being pulled into the office and will lose a lot of the flexibility that you were seeking.
Remote work can be excellent for professional fulfillment and work/life integration. However, many companies are offering this for the first time and there will certainly be many examples of both effective and ineffective remote work. Ask the right questions to make sure you’re joining a company whose version of remote or hybrid work is right for you.
Robert is the founder and CEO of Acceleration Partners. Join 200,000+ global leaders who follow his inspirational weekly newsletter Friday Forward or invite him to speak. Robert is also a Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestselling author. His new book, How To Thrive In The Virtual Workplace, is a #1 Wall Street Journal bestseller.
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