I haven’t seen a person in real life in two days, I wear no shoes, and I can’t make it the day without my phone. What am I?
Last month, I began working remotely at CALLSTATS I/O as a content marketer. I work out of the United States while the majority of the team is based in Helsinki, Finland. If you have ever worked remotely, you know how complicated it can be, especially with a significant time difference. These are the top five do’s and don’ts I’ve learned the past month to work effectively when remote.
Do Introduce Yourself
Figuring out the flow and culture at a new company can be daunting. It’s hard to jump into an existing infrastructure and quickly identify how a company communicates, especially when the company is 6,000 km away (as the crow flies - Google wouldn’t give me driving directions across the Atlantic). Luckily, everyone at CALLSTATS I/O was very welcoming during my onboarding and made the process easy.
At CALLSTATS I/O, we use Flowdock, a real-time collaboration tool for teams. The team energetically introduced themselves to me privately and through the company-wide chat. Several people hopped on calls with me to give me an introduction to the product and their roles at the company. This was particularly exemplified by Charlotta, our HR specialist. She connected me to several people on the team, and was able to give me background on almost everyone at the company on my first day, from their role on the team to how many kids they have.
Everyone’s friendliness made it a lot easier for me to assimilate into the team and communicate openly. If you’re lucky enough to work on a team like this, you’re already a step in the right direction. If you’re not, it’s even more critical to introduce yourself on day one.
Don’t Be Afraid to Reach Out
One of the most difficult dilemmas I’ve encountered working remotely is finding a healthy balance between communicating effectively and just being annoying. It’s important to ask the right questions to get the answers you need to do your job well, but it’s also important not to bother people with needless questions - which can be all too easy to do when your primary mode of communication is asynchronous.
In order to manage this, I try to answer the questions I want to ask before I ask them. This sounds straightforward, but it can be all too easy to get in the zone and ask a question without thinking, only to realize the answer is right in front of you. I limit myself to a brief but in-depth search for the answer before reaching out to a colleague.
Similar to their friendliness when I first started, everyone on the CALLSTATS I/O team is very communicative. Everyone is excited to interact and spread ideas, as well as help out. For example, when I was working on one of my first blog posts on the difference between jitter and latency, Balázs, one of our software engineers, was willing to read over the outline, the final draft, hop on a call to discuss, and create figures. He went above and beyond to make sure the work we put out was comprehensive and accurate. I have found this kind of strong work ethic to be a theme on the CALLSTATS I/O team.
Don’t Remove Accountability For Your Work
The most common question I get when I tell people I work remotely is, “How do you have the self discipline? I would never get anything done working from home.” The simplest way I’ve found is to not rely on self discipline, but instead hold yourself accountable for your work. CALLSTATS I/O uses several effective tools to do this.
StatusHero requires every teammate update the rest of the team once per day on what they accomplished yesterday, as well as their goals for today. It’s a great feeling to be able to look back on yesterday’s tasks and see they all got done. Contrastingly, it’s a frustrating (but helpful) feeling to realize you need to hussle and finished yesterday’s tasks.
I also have a daily sync with Lasse, our growth hacker, to discuss my goals for the day and any questions I have. We have an open communication flow over Flowdock during the day, but it’s incredibly helpful to have a direct line of communication on a video call once a day to stay updated. We discuss what I’ve accomplished so far, as well as my plans for the next few weeks and any feedback he has for me. It gives me a helpful and friendly connection to the office.
Do Work With The Team
Working remotely allows a lot of freedom to create your own schedule and workflow. In order to respect that freedom, it’s important to be willing to work with the team and make sacrifices to your schedule when necessary.
The time difference between Helsinki and Boston is seven hours. Luckily, everyone at CALLSTATS I/O has been very thoughtful to schedule meetings with me during normal working EST hours, and in return, I do my best to make sure those meetings are during normal working GMT+3 hours. When working remotely, be aware that your schedule may need to be pretty flexible and variable, especially given a large time difference.
Do Put Time Into Researching
Even with good communication, there is still a bit of a disconnect that comes with working remotely. It’s more difficult to relate with everyone in the office and properly understand the company culture. In order to resolve this, I’ve taken a research-oriented approach. Invest time in having a comprehensive understanding of the company, including the customer base and how the company has evolved. At CALLSTATS I/O, I’ve really taken to heart the company mission statement:
A world where communication is both frictionless and effortless to set up, operate, and scale.
Which I feel is exemplified not only by our product, but also by our team.
Do Commit To Learning
The CALLSTATS I/O commitment to learning is my favorite thing about working here (so far). Their commitment to learning as a team and individual growth was listed on my job description when I first applied, and the role has lived up to it. Within the first month, I have become HubSpot certified in two new areas: Content Marketing and Inbound Marketing. We prioritize learning, not only through certifications, but also through a chat dedicated exclusively to knowledge sharing. Teammates share a new article most every day with both industry-related news and generally interesting news.
Remote roles are unique because they allow you to experience things on your own terms, instead of in an office. Use the opportunity to explore and learn, not only in your role at your company, but also in the rest of your life.
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