After weighing your options (and perhaps landing a new job), you’ve decided that the time has come to say farewell and leave your remote role.
Maybe the company culture wasn’t the right fit, there were too few opportunities for advancement, or perhaps you encountered some complicated team conflicts that didn’t seem solvable. Perhaps your job began in an office setting, and your company made a number of unfortunate missteps as it transitioned into remote work.
No matter the cause, you’re now at a crossroads. Starting a new chapter in your professional life can be both exciting and daunting. Yet it’s important to remember that your decision will impact at least one person besides you and your family—your immediate supervisor—and more than likely an entire team or multiple departments across your organization.
Make no mistake: there is a significant ripple effect whenever a productive and capable employee leaves. Work either goes undone or colleagues are charged with taking on additional responsibilities.
As a result, quantity and quality of a team’s output might suffer, while teams potentially must also interview, hire, and onboard a replacement. It’s no wonder why companies try so hard to keep their employees happy; retaining workers is much more cost efficient than focusing resources on replacing them!
You’re in charge of your own career, of course, and can’t be expected to stick around just to avoid causing headaches for others. That said, you can make your departure a smoother one for all involved. Who wouldn’t want that? It’s far better to head out on a high note, with colleagues thanking you for your contributions, rather than leaving a wake of disgruntled former coworkers and a messy professional legacy. (There’s really no good reason to make a situation worse by spreading misery, and certainly no positive result to come from it.)
Here are four tips on how you can leave your remote role gracefully:
1. Ensure that your knowledge management is in order before notifying your boss.
Before you begin typing that email or calling your supervisor’s cell (resigning via Slack is not recommended), you need to consider the impact of your news.
If you haven’t kept a tidy informational house up to this point, organize your work into searchable folders with sensible nomenclature. Type up a quick ‘How to find x’ list related to your top projects. By making sure things are shipshape, you’ll help everyone breathe easier as you wind down in your role and eventually continue moving forward in your absence.
2. Be proactive in communicating your departure.
Unless you’re Jerry Maguire, the idea of leaving your current position has likely been on your mind for some time. Once you’ve made your decision and have tidied your professional house, it’s time to break the news.
Follow your chain of command and always tell your boss first; then the two of you can discuss how and when to share it with the team, and, more broadly, the types of internal communication that’d be most appropriate for any companywide announcements.
3. Make the runway as long as possible.
If you’re planning on assuming another remote role, you don’t have to pick up and move. In this case, you could conceivably stick it out to train a new team member, or at the very least lay the groundwork that’ll help him or her be successful in filling your (admittedly large) shoes.
Review your calendar and consider offering up more than the minimum two weeks’ notice. Outside of toxic work environments or personal emergencies, providing additional notice to your employer isn’t just courteous; it’s the smart thing to do.
4. Remember: a little gratitude never hurt anyone.
The smallest of gestures can go a long way in maintaining goodwill and great connections for years to come. Think of a situation where someone helped you and thank them for it, or offer a small token of your appreciation with either a gift or a kind deed.
In my last full-time remote gig, I bid my office-based colleagues a fond video farewell. During our chat, I surprised the team by having another teammate pick up sandwiches that I’d ordered for them. Potential food allergies aside, it was great fun for me to see their looks of astonishment and to make part of their day (and my last day) just a little brighter.