5 Ways to Explain Your Remote Job to Others
“So, what do you do?” It can sound like a loaded question. For remote workers, trying to explain your remote job can seem difficult to do.
I’ve found that skeptical family members, well-meaning friends, others’ inquisitive children, and even business contacts can have some misconstrued notions about remote work and those who do it. Sometimes these are vocalized with puzzled looks. The same inquiries tend to come up frequently.
Here are five common questions that I’ve fielded about being a remote worker, and suggested responses to help you explain your remote job to others while maintaining your sanity:
Are you really working?
Often this is coupled with your counterpart’s own experience: “I’d never get anything done if I was at home/in a coffee shop/not right next to my team!”
This question deserves a direct response: “Yes, I am really working. I also might be able to go for a run, toss in a load of laundry every now and then, pick the kids up from school, or take the dog to the vet. With the flexibility my job affords, I’m able to work wherever is most comfortable for me, and I’m responsible for managing my own time—and working more efficiently means I get more time back in my day.”
Then watch them try to conceal their envy!
So what do you actually do all day?
It’s natural for folks who’ve held traditional roles or those who haven’t met a remote worker to genuinely wonder what your workdays look like. Satisfy their curiosity by listing out some of your typical day-to-day tasks. Tell them that you do project work using software programs, have video meetings with your teammates and phone calls with clients, craft sales messages, write code, or create email campaigns.
The work you do is almost identical to that of an office worker; the only difference is that you’re able to accomplish it just about anywhere. (Resist the urge to brag about doing so from exotic locations.)
Do you wear pajamas?
It’s a silly question, but it feeds into the no-pants remote work stereotype. You can laugh this one off and just say, “No, of course not!” or, “Obviously—the ones with the feet!” Feel free to be honest if you’re comfortable doing so. “Yes, on some winter days, or if I’m not feeling particularly well, I begin working at 8 a.m. but enjoy staying in my PJs until noon,” or “Actually, I mostly follow the same routine as I would if I were in an office; my video calls require me to have a professional appearance.”
Maybe you get things done from a nearby cafe or a coworking space and dress casually every day. (Note: admit to wearing “mullet outfits” for video chats at your own risk.)
Don’t you get lonely?
Ah, here’s the rub. Despite your job having some major advantages, it has its own setbacks for sure. Isolation is a common complaint for remote workers. Perhaps your days are spent using collaboration tools with your team, or filled with interactions and outreach. Maybe they’re not, but this isn’t your first remote rodeo; because of that, you’ve set yourself up with professional activities and other engagements that keep you connected to others in your industry.
If you do get lonely, and you trust the person you’re speaking with, tell them. He or she might be able to suggest some face-to-face or virtual networks to join, or ways for you to get out and meet people with shared interests.
How do you stay focused?
Here they’ve touched upon an ongoing challenge for employees everywhere. Anyone with a pinging smartphone or an open web browser is subject to nearly constant distractions. Offer up your own approach and elaborate if you’d like. “I make sure to disconnect from WiFi to do work that requires head-down concentration,” or, “I ignore all notifications except for some specific apps when I’m in the middle of something, and only check them when I’m finished.”
Maybe you’ve set up a positive reinforcement for yourself, or you’ve employed the popular Pomodoro technique. Share your tips and you’ll sound like a remote work pro!
Photo Credit: bigstockphoto.com
By Kristi DePaul | Categories: Work Remotely