If you had asked many leaders at the beginning of 2020, they would have told you that there was no way their companies would be shifting to a remote or hybrid workforce in the next few months. And yet, here we are. The number of hybrid and fully-remote workers has skyrocketed since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.
While the shift may have appeared temporary at first, we’re now seeing that it seems to be permanent for many companies. Employees have come to expect these options in many industries, and employers have realized that the jobs can, in fact, be done from home. This shift leaves many job seekers having to decide what environment is the best fit for them.
Here are seven questions to ask yourself when deciding whether to apply for remote, hybrid, or in-person jobs.
1. Where does your motivation come from?
When deciding whether to pursue remote or in-office work, ask yourself where your motivation to work hard and succeed originates. Some people need to know that their coworkers are watching them and find motivation in how hard those around them are working. Other people push themselves by staying organized, making lists, and planning how to spend their time. This latter group is ideal for remote work, as they’ll hold themselves accountable even when no one else is around.
2. Are you able to separate the differing demands of work and home?
One of the biggest challenges of remote work is the temptation to blur the boundaries between your work life and your home life. To be successful in remote work, you must resist the temptation to switch the laundry or load the dishwasher between meetings. Similarly, working from home means you lose the transition of a commute, meaning that your work can often bleed over into the evenings and impact your work-life balance. If drawing that line is too hard, in-person work is likely a better fit.
3. Do you have a dedicated, comfortable workspace at home?
When you don’t have a commute, switching from “work mode” to “home mode” is hard. Remote workers successfully combat this by having a dedicated space where they work and only using this space for work. Your workspace should be clean, quiet, and comfortable – and would ideally be in a room where you don’t do other things (like sleep or cook) to help make that mental transition easier. If you don’t have access to such a workspace, you might benefit from working in an office at least part of the time.
4. Who do you live with?
While it’s possible to make a remote or hybrid job work in any living situation, it’s much easier if you don’t have roommates or family members home interrupting you. For example, if your kids are home with a spouse or nanny, you’ll hear them even if they don’t come into your office, which can pull your attention despite your best efforts. Similarly, having a spouse or roommate who also works from home can make it difficult if your space isn’t large enough (or doesn’t have a door) – especially if you both have jobs with lots of phone calls or video meetings. If you can’t have some quiet in which to focus, a hybrid arrangement or in-office job might be best.
5. How long have you been in the workforce?
There is a lot to be said for the value of coming into the office every day when you’re fresh out of college and working your first real job. You’ll learn so much just by working alongside more seasoned professionals; watching how they do their jobs, interact with coworkers, and carry themselves professionally is most accessible in the office. Going into the office also helps you transition from the relaxed college environment into the workforce and enables you to establish the routines and professionalism for success. It also helps expand your professional and social circles. Fully remote work might not be the best fit for recent graduates.
6. What are your career ambitions?
If you’re happy doing what you’re doing in your current position, remote work can allow you to focus on honing your skills. However, if you’re looking for career advancement and promotion into a management role, going into the office can give you a leg up. Doing so gets you in front of your bosses and executive leaders on a more regular basis so they can get to know you, see how you present yourself, and observe your communication and people skills. A hybrid job is a good compromise, though, if you’re looking for advancement in the future and flexibility now.
7. Do you have enough social interaction outside of work?
Work takes up at least half of the waking hours of most people. Depending on who you live with and your hobbies, your job might be the primary source of social interaction in your life. When deciding whether to pursue remote, hybrid, or in-office opportunities, it’s essential to consider whether you’ll be lonely working from home. This is another area where a hybrid job is a good compromise between the two extremes.
We are at a unique time in history where technology and social norms have enabled many people to choose whether they want to work in an office or their homes. Rather than jumping on the remote work bandwagon, however, it’s essential to consider which arrangement is truly best for your work, life, and mental health. We hope these questions give you some things to consider when deciding what types of opportunities to pursue.
Photo credit: Valeriia Miller from Canva