8 Steps to Making a Smooth Transition to Remote Work

A man works from home as his son comes up behind him to give him a surprise hug.
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One of the most significant workplace changes that came from the pandemic has been the economy-spanning shift to remote work away from the traditional office environment.

Many companies that never offered it now have a remote work option. Some companies that were thinking about going partially remote pulled the trigger and have moved their workforce into working remotely full time.

And unless you work in an industry that really can’t do remote work (e.g. restaurant server or retail associate) or are employed by a company stuck in 1998, then remote work may be your new reality.

For many people, that’s awesome news. But that doesn’t mean there won’t be adjustments in your transition to remote work.

If working remotely is or could be part of your new routine, we have some suggestions.

8 Things We’ve Learned About the Transition to Permanent Remote Work

1. Make Sure You Actually Want to Work Remotely

It’s not for everyone.

As much as it’s a growing trend, some people still aren’t into remote work. Only 54% of people whose jobs can be done at home said they would want to work remotely after COVID subsides, according to the Pew Research Center. That is a majority, but not by much.

Working remotely has several benefits. So spend a lot of time thinking through the pros – no commute, more focus time and productivity, more efficient meetings, more family time, among others. And then think through the cons – less serendipity, no water cooler conversations, the potential to feel isolated, and so on.

Depending on your personality type, you may thrive or really struggle working remotely. Know yourself and how you might respond before making the permanent jump. 

2. Approach Your Employer About Working Remotely

So you got a taste of remote work during the last year, loved it, then your employer decided it was time to bring all the team members back together. What should you do?

If you really want to work remotely, there’s nothing wrong with asking. Your boss might not be on the same page, but it never hurts to ask, right?

The key is to be prepared before the conversation. Prove that you’ve been more productive in a remote environment, and bring the data to show it. Know what your employer’s reasoning is and be prepared to counter it. And be sure to explain all the ways they will benefit, not just you.

3. Know the Remote Work Basics

Here’s a quick checklist of all the tools to think about related to remote work:

  • Computer setup (with video call accessibility)
  • High-speed internet
  • Phone (landline if in an industry like sales)
  • Headset and microphone
  • Desk
  • Comfortable office chair
  • Dual monitors
  • Office supplies
  • Power strip
  • Good lighting (for Zoom calls)
  • Shelving or organizational system

You might only need some of those things. But make sure you have at least a few of these home office essentials in place before making the jump to remote work.

4. Get Reimbursed for Initial Expenses

Whether it’s a new laptop, faster internet, a decent desk or a rental space for in-person meetings, make sure you aren’t taking those financial loads on yourself.

Most employers will know to take care of these for their remote workers, but some who are smaller or just transitioning to a remote workforce may let these slip through the cracks. Whether it’s an initial stipend, a reimbursement, or paid through an expense account, your employer should be footing the bill.

Don’t hesitate to bring up these expenses yourself. After all, your employer would be paying for it all in a traditional office environment. That shouldn’t change with the transition to remote work.

5. Your Internet Speed Is Going to Be Important

Between email and regular internet browsing, plus streaming and all those video calls, your internet connection will matter more than ever. You not only want it to be fast, you also want it to be stable.

Start by testing your internet speed. Then use our guidelines for the speeds you’ll need to use different applications. If you’re lacking in the speed department, talk with your employer about getting an upgrade.

If your provider’s speeds are lacking, or if you live in a part of the country without access to higher speeds, we have ideas on some alternative ways to stay in touch with other team members.

6. Know if You Qualify for Tax Deductions

Yes, you could qualify for tax deductions if you work from home. But, as expected with tax laws, there are quite a few regulations.

If you’re a regular employee, you won’t qualify, unless you also have self-employment income. In other words, the income you make from your full-time job isn’t deductible. Anything you made as a freelancer is.

The space where you work also needs to be your principal place of business, but you don’t need an entirely separate room set up for your work.

Those are just a couple of the qualifiers, however. If you’ve already met those, go check out the others to see if you can get the remote work tax deduction.

7. Consider Job Hunting if Your Job Isn’t Going Remote

Just how important is it to you to be able to work remotely?

If you’re set on making the jump to remote work, weigh the pros and cons of staying at your current job or leaving. Everything from income, work/life balance, flexibility, stability, family time, and more should factor into your decision.

If, after thinking through everything, you’re ready to make the move, get prepared to start interviewing with these 9 remote interview questions.

8. Get in Touch With Companies That Offer Remote Work

Once you’re on the market, it will be helpful to know your options for remote work.

While some companies might be new at managing remote employees post-pandemic, many have been doing remote work for a while now. Here are 31 companies with remote work jobs.

Finally, if you’ve made the jump, just enjoy the transition. For many people, working remotely is a life changer. If it works for you and fits your personality, you’ll likely never want to go back to a traditional office.

Robert Bruce is a senior writer for The Penny Hoarder.