Young Alumni: 4 things to consider for remote work success

The last two years have drastically altered our relationship with the workplace, as more and more employees are embracing remote or hybrid work settings. While some organizations are encouraging a return to the office, many are continuing to offer flexible working environments.

For young alumni with little to no previous experience in an office environment, the new landscape of remote work brings both pros and cons. One of the primary benefits of remote work is the freedom and flexibility that it brings. Individuals have more control over their own schedules and don’t have to commute. This flexibility can be especially helpful for those with family members to care for or other at-home demands. Remote and hybrid work opportunities can also help democratize the workplace, allowing employers to recruit from anywhere and facilitating connections between employees across different roles and geographic regions.

Remote work also brings challenges. While the flexibility can promote work-life balance, it can also blur the lines between office and home, requiring employees to be more intentional about setting boundaries. Working from home also brings additional distractions that an office environment mitigates. Furthermore, it can be difficult to connect with coworkers and assess the company’s culture when working remotely.

Navigating remote work, whether you’re currently in a remote role or actively seeking one, can be challenging. Here are several considerations that will set you up for success:

  1. What are your concerns about safety and comfort? While COVID-19 restrictions are easing, we’re still living through a pandemic. If you have concerns about safety for yourself and those you live with, a remote role may be the best option. At the same time, it’s important to consider the job itself and your own personality. Are there certain aspects of the job that will be more difficult to do remotely? What kind of environments are healthy for you? Do you work best when you have a sense of connection to others? Do you need more solitude? Balancing your level of comfort and safety with what you need to perform well in your role is important as you assess remote and hybrid options.
  2. How will you connect with your team? In an office environment, establishing connections with coworkers and finding mentorship opportunities happen naturally. In a remote space, you need to be more intentional about networking and achieving a sense of community with your team. When working remotely, you will need to consider who you want to build relationships with and who the point person(s) is for each of your projects. Reaching out to team members for quick, virtual chats over “virtual coffee” can be a good way to get to know your coworkers.
  3. What kind of onboarding is involved? Onboarding is an important process for any job, but it’s especially crucial for those in a remote role. Make sure you have all the equipment you need from your employer and a safe at-home work setup. Get comfortable with turning on your video in meetings so that others can see you and get to know you. If you’re not comfortable with people viewing your home environment over video, choose an appropriate virtual background. When interviewing for a remote position, consider asking about the company’s onboarding process. Is there a certain structure or schedule? Are there any opportunities to meet in person, or is everything remote? Are there mentorship or shadowing opportunities? Know how you learn best, and compare your style to the way the organization trains new employees.
  4. What are your responsibilities as a remote worker? Above all, remote work can affect the level of trust between employer and employee. According to St. Olaf Vice President of Human Resources Leslie Moore, “On the one hand, employers, with less visibility over their employees and their progress, may have a hard time assessing their employees’ performance. On the other hand, remote work can be empowering for employees when they are recognized for the work they do and the sense of accountability they bring to their position.” It is essential that you collaborate with your supervisor to establish a schedule and a set of goals that work for both of you. Although you will need to take more initiative in accomplishing your tasks, connecting with others, and demonstrating your achievements outside of a shared office space, this extra effort will help you connect with others and advance within your organization.

The future of work-from-home and hybrid environments opens up new opportunities for younger members of the workforce. As you adapt to this new normal, make sure to keep these considerations in mind so you can find the best fit and make the most out of remote work.

Still have questions? Piper Center Associate Director of Alumni Career Services Jenele Grassle is available to help with any career questions you have. More resources and a link to book an appointment with Jenele are available on the Alumni Career Services page.