For many years we have been aware of the rising popularity of remote working, but coronavirus has only accelerated the transition from the office to home.
If you have recently started or will be starting a remote internship/job in the coming months or years, there will be a period of adjustment and settling in, just like every other job. But working remotely presents some challenges, but also many benefits.
I myself, just like the rest of the E4S team, am working remotely at the time of writing this and you may be asking, what are the benefits and challenges of remote working?
Let’s start off on a positive note, looking at the benefits.
Better Work-Life Balance
Remote working removes the need to be in the office for set hours, and many of them give flexibility around the ‘core hours’. It can also offer the chance to fit more things into your lunch break, such as exercise or the chance to cook a healthy meal.
Particularly if you are a young carer or have children/sibling you have to look after, any remote job, not just a remote internship, opens the door to work whilst still caring for someone.
Plus, we know what students are like. Working remotely at home means you will never miss another delivery again.
Working remotely removes the need to spend time and money on travel, which can be massively beneficial in reducing tiredness and giving you more free time to do more of the things you enjoy. It can also give you more time in the morning to have a more relaxed routine, so you are better prepared for work.
A job may be advertised as 9-5 but depending how far you live from the office; you can easily end up adding 1 hour either side of that just getting to and from work. Making your actual workday up to and over 25% longer than you are getting paid for.
Adapt to the Future
This is particularly beneficial if you are doing a remote internship. As mentioned previously, remote working is likely to become even more popular in the coming years and using your remote internship as a way to adapt to working from home now, will benefit you when it comes to getting a proper job post-graduation!
You will be able to ‘learn the ropes’ and adjust now, something you could mention in interviews in the future. It also means when you land yourself with a job, you will be able to get up to speed quickly and be productive from day 1.
This one can really depend on what type of set up you have at home or in your student house/accommodation. Working remotely means you can of course choose where you work, so you have the option to pick the best environment for you. This is typically your room or home-office, but you are free to move around to find the place that suits you best.
Sunny outside? You are free to sit in sun whilst you work. There really is little limitation, as long as you are working of course.
It also gives you the chance to make your work environment exactly how you like it, so you could even splash your first pay day on some jazzy new office equipment. Here are some home office tips you can use.
This can, however, be a challenge for some, as they need an office-like environment to work best. It certainly is good to experiment with locations, this can either be by moving around the house, or visiting your local coffee shop just to get a change of scenery for an hour or so.
Not Limited to Location
One fantastic outcome of remote working is that by not being tied to an office, you are able to work from anywhere in the UK, and the world. This means even if you see a job that is based hours away, you can still apply as there is no need to commute to and from work.
I myself am based in Wiltshire, whereas E4S is based 2-hours away in Oxfordshire. Whenever I need help or to chat to the team, any issue can be sorted via email, Slack or a Google Meet/Zoom video call.
This can open so many doors if you are looking to for a job in a city, where there are typically more job opportunities.
As we mentioned previously, you can save money on fuel by working remotely. But one other area you can cut back your spending is food!
We all know how easy it is to buy a £3 meal deal, or a coffee on your lunch break, but it is amazing how fast that all adds up. Spending £5 a day on food and drink at work may not sound too bad, but over a year that can cost £1,300.
By removing the temptation to grab food off the shelf and eating at home, you will be amazed how much you could be saving. Yes, you will be needing to buy the food to eat at home, but chances are it will be much cheaper than stopping at the shop every day on your lunch break.
So, what are the challenges of remote working?
Typically, if you are in the office, when you are stuck on something all it takes is to lean over towards the person next to you and ask them for help. When you remote working, this is of course not possible.
It can take longer for problems to be solved, as naturally, email can take longer than an in-person conversation. Even waiting 2 minutes for a reply can feel like a lifetime.
Remember that you are an intern (even if you’re not, this still applies) and work is supposed to be challenging. You have been hired because your employer thinks you’re up for the challenge and believes in you. Although you may be reluctant to drop an email or message because you feel your issue is small or silly, don’t be afraid to ask questions! The last thing you want to do is feel even worse when the mistake is visible to everyone.
Many people love the buzz of an office, with the chit-chat and being surrounded by people. Especially if your previous jobs or university has made you love it, working remotely can be a huge shift for some, which they struggle with.
If you are feeling lonely during your remote work, reach out to people within your team. One good tip to do, is to have scheduled video calls with one/some of your team members. This can help create structure to your week and give you some interaction. Alternatively, instead of communicating over email when discussing tasks/queries, you could have short video calls.
You could also suggest doing something with your colleagues that is non work related but gives you some interaction. Here at E4S we have a scheduled video call Friday lunchtime, where we can catch up and talk about non-work-related stuff. If your work has nothing like this, then suggest it, chances are some people will be up for it!
One way I have found to battle loneliness, is to listen to the radio! I typically listen to Capital FM during the day, where they play both music and sections where they are talking. But of course, the radio station you choose is up to you
Inductions are often a dreaded part of starting a new role, and doing a remote induction is completely new to many people. Trying to match up names to faces can be tough at the of times, let alone on a video call.
A remote induction, like an in person one, typically requires you to take in vast amounts of information and require you to start learning how the business operates and its ‘tone’. You may feel the need to get up to speed within a few hours, but you need to be kind and real with yourself.
Speak to your line manager about your targets and make sure you are confident with the main ways of operating, such as; email, Google Drive, Slack and any other websites that are used frequently. By taking things on board in chunks, will get you up to speed much quicker than trying to learn everything at once.
If I had to give one top tip to remote interns, it is to keep note of everything you do. I have a small notebook by my side for the whole day whilst I work. Keep each day separate and date it all.
That way, you can keep clear notes on what you need to do, and how things are done. This will prevent you from forgetting anything, as sometimes details may seem small at the time of explanation but are in fact very important. It can also help you to keeps tabs on what tasks you have done and spot any mistakes easily and early.
If you are struggling with any aspect of remote working, don’t be afraid to speak to your manager or colleagues. Everyone is adjusting to the remote world, so you will not be alone when it comes to struggling with it.
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