Tips to Make Remote Employees

Almost every manager on the planet will agree that team building is hard. Factor in geographic distance and you’ll find it even more challenging to keep your team members integrated—especially if you don’t have a solid plan.

The good news: Understanding how to build a cohesive distributed team is a skill that managers and entrepreneurs can learn. Better yet, it’s a skill that offers you immediate—and often significant—advantages over your competitors. Some of the most successful companies in the world, like Automattic (the parent company of WordPress), have documented their battle-tested strategies for building remote teams.

I work at NYC-based Andela, live in Atlanta, and manage a tech team scattered across the globe—including both coasts of the U.S. and multiple locations in Nigeria, Romania, India, and Nepal. Here are the five best practices that I’ve found most valuable in building and supporting distributed teams.

 

1. Establish Bonds of Friendship and Empathy

The more fully you can empathize with one another, the easier it becomes to collaborate as a team. In a recent study, MIT professors found that one of the most important ingredients in a smart team was the ability to “consider and keep track of what other people feel, know and believe,” otherwise known as “Theory of Mind.” This held true regardless of whether the team worked offline or online.

In other words, effective collaboration hinges on a rich, deep understanding of your employees’ perspectives. That means you might need to invest in travel at the start of the relationship to really get to know your new team member face-to-face and build rapport. Then, keep those personal connections alive and meaningful over time by encouraging the team to discuss topics other than work—just like they would over coffee and snacks in the office. It makes a difference.

 

2. Pair up Remote Workers

“Pair programming,” the practice of having two individuals work together to develop code, is frequently cited as a best practice for developing software. Qualitative and quantitative evidence suggests that when developers work in pairs, they work “more than twice as fast,” make fewer mistakes, and design better code. The benefits can even carry over to pairing up to do non-programming tasks.

Additionally, when people are paired up, they learn to communicate more easily and often, and to share (rather than hide) problems and solutions—all of which increases overall information flow and team alignment. One team leader observed that after pairing up developers, his fragmented team began to have “real conversations…they actually began to enjoy and trust each other.” They turned from a “random collection of six, bright talented individuals who didn’t work together” into a genuine team.

To effectively pair up workers, remember that pairing is a skill that does not come automatically to most people. It takes concerted effort and practice to instill pairing in your culture (and get your team excited about it).

 

3. Provide Shared Purpose via Regular Recognition

Aligning everyone’s goals through a common purpose and regularly recognizing each person’s contribution to that purpose is essential for team building. The benefits of these practices have been well-documented in business literature, and they are especially important when working with remote colleagues. When someone is not in the office, he or she will miss out on the regular reinforcement of the team’s mission that happens in the context of casual conversations and spontaneous celebrations. As manager, you must have a system to make sure that your remote staff still feels included.

At Andela, for example, our goal is to train 100,000 young people in Africa as software developers over the next 10 years. We align everyone with that goal by leveraging the OKR system popularized by Google and other Silicon Valley heavyweights. OKR stands for Objectives and Key Results; it’s a precise way of defining key projects that people are working on each quarter. Every week, during one-on-one meetings with members of my distributed team, we review progress on their OKRs. I make sure to recognize progress privately, but also in public ways, such as callouts during our weekly global staff meetings.

Best Time For Promotion

Ever heard the saying “Do things, tell people?”

It’s sage advice for any employee, but it’s even more important when you’re on a remote team, and run the risk of being out of sight and out of mind. Sure, some people assume that’s a benefit of working from home (e.g., How would your boss know if you took a two-hour lunch?) But there’s a flipside to that coin: When you’re exceeding expectations and there are no casual stops by your boss’ desk to fill her in on all you’re doing—how will she ever know?

If you want the same raises, gold stars, or promotions you’d receive if you worked in an office, you’ve gotta make some noise. And you have to do it without being all socially-awkward-penguin about it. Try these four strategies:

 

1. Build Your Network

You want everyone possible to know you and the value you bring, so that when new opportunities show up, you come to mind. For this to happen, you need to build relationships within your team. No matter how small the group is or how far-flung the zip codes are, your colleagues are part of your network. Here are two easy ways to get this relationship-building going.

 

Swap Praise

Pretty obvious, right? Right. But it’s a surefire way to connect with the people you’re working with. Skip the slimy flattery or half-hearted “kudos” here: I’m talking about expressing gratitude and calling it like you see it.

When someone else saves the day, helps you out big time, or goes above and beyond, make some noise. Shoot’um a thank-you badge on Slack! Let your new boss know. Mention it during your next conference call.

People don’t forget this kind of thing, especially when it’s done publicly. The next time they spot you dishing out some awesome, they’ll reciprocate. There’s nothing like having someone else make noise for you!

 

Seek Out a Mentor

Find a mentor. Acting on feedback is crucial to getting better at your job and earning recognition. With the help of a mentor, the getting better part explodes, and here’s the best part: You can still seek out a mentor-mentee dynamic when you work remotely.

You probably won’t find the same structured arrangements you world in an office. Weekly coffee dates will be harder to come by, no question; but this relationship is less about form and more about content. As long as you’re connecting with someone you admire who can give you clear advice, you’re golden.

Ideally, choose someone who can introduce you to others within the company and your industry. Most importantly, select a person who has the skills you’d like to master, because you can learn from his experience. Which brings me to me next point…

 

2. Acquire New Skills and Ask for More Responsibility

It’s great when your manager looks for opportunities for you to grow, but truth talk: Your professional development is no one’s responsibility but yours.

Now, don’t get me wrong. Internal workshops, seminars, and just plain gaining skills on the fly are terrific—if you want to move ahead at the same rate as everyone else on your team.

But I’d bet that you want to stand out.

Apply the extra hour or two you save by not commuting every day to some outside training. There are a million ways to up your game. Some of my personal favorite learning platforms include edX, lynda.com, and Coursera.

From there, seek out avenues where you can apply your new skills. Asking for more, new, or different responsibilities increases your value within an organization. It also puts a spotlight on your growing capabilities.

If there aren’t new and exciting opportunities floating around your team, volunteer to help other departments. Yes, this can be harder when Steve from marketing and Tara from engineering don’t stand around the same water cooler, so you’ll have to find out yourself. Ask your boss is there are company-wide or cross-team projects. If there’s no room for you to contribute that way, ask about big picture strategic goals and study the needs and challenges of the company to see if you can spot a neglected area. Create your own opportunity by pitching a new project or position that you could take on to address the weak spot.

 

3. Track Your Progress

Consider this your new Friday ritual. Take a few minutes to jot down an outline of everything you’ve accomplished that week. Include all of the items that you feel great about. This record—I call it my “Lookit Me!” file—serves a few important purposes. Long term, when it’s time to update your resume, you’ll have a treasure trove of accomplishments and metrics to pull from.

Future you will be grateful, I promise!

More immediately, this practice reinforces not only your personal awareness of how things are going, but also the awareness of your boss. On particularly good weeks, fire off your “Lookit Me” summary to your boss, explaining what you feel great about and the things you’re excited about in the week to come.

They’re perfect for when you’ve really been on fire. Maybe you closed a hefty new account, implemented a new system or tool that quickly showed positive results, or delivered a project early, not to mention one that wow’d a client—I think you get the picture.

It’s fine to toot your own horn, as long as it’s not too often or loud.

How to Change Your Job as Well

You’ve got the right background, stellar credentials, and a resume that screams “Hire me!” You’d be a catch for any company. The twist is that you really want to work from home, and none of the companies advertising a remote job are calling you back.

Here’s why: You’re probably making some basic mistakes that matter a lot more when you’re applying for virtual positions. The good news is that there are quick fixes you can put into place to turn your search around for the better. So, read on for four common issues (and four easy solutions).

 

1. You’re a Ghost

By ghost, I mean you have zero web presence. Aside from your email address and its account avatar (if you have one), there are few other clues as to who you are and what you’ve done. Your LinkedIn profile is out of date and your personal website is just a domain name. Employers get a faint sense of what you’re about, but not much else.

“But I sent my resume, isn’t that enough?”

Not if you want to quickly establish trust. Think about it: These companies have expansive websites, social profiles, and web presences that go on for days. That’s because they want you to understand them. Failure to return in kind makes it difficult for them to see why you’re awesome.

 

The Quick Fix

I point to LinkedIn here because it’s free, relatively easy to set up, and it’s a social profile, blog, and personal website rolled into single platform.

My bite-sized advice is to populate your profile’s sections (especially the summary) with a least three to five lines of information each, and then share a status update once a day. It can be an article or a feel-good motivational quote—anything goes. Oh, and a solid profile picture is a must.

You’ll have a warm, fleshy profile out in the world that’ll rank highly in your search results, instead of a bag of bones.

 

2. Your Emails Are “Meh”

Super long emails. Stuffy, overly formal emails. Emails with generic cover letters in them. Emails that don’t really say anything. Typos galore. Emails you leave unanswered for days.

“Meh” covers so many things in this case.

At the end of the day, the problem is that your communication style doesn’t match that of the company or remote teams in general. People like working with people. Not robots. Not dinosaurs. Certainly not the guy delivering a 300-page dissertation on how goal-oriented he is.

To engage your readers via email and show that you “get it,” you’ve got to be concise, authentic, and snappy (read: fast!).

 

The Quick Fix

Be a copycat. Consider the tone of the job ad you’re responding to, in addition to the voice used on the company’s site. Scan the LinkedIn profile of its founder. Read the blog posts. Match the organization’s pace and vibe.

Is it business casual? Is it serious? Maybe it’s somewhere in between the two. Then, kind of like how you’d dress for an interview, be half-a-step more formal. That way, you’re balancing a message of “I’d totally fit in here” with “I still get it’s a first impression.”

Finally, match the tone in your communication with everyone you meet on the team. And if you’re volleying emails with someone from the company, pay attention to the way he or she writes, and echo the style—because maybe the hiring manager and your potential boss communicate differently. Most importantly keep your message short, because—who’s really got the time for all that jazz?

Gets Work Done Easily

Imagine a morning as a remote worker: You sit down on the couch with your laptop, start running through your to-do list, while slurping Lucky Charms out of a bowl and watching Survivor reruns. Spoiler alert: That is not what it’s like to work virtually—not even close.

However, bosses who have limited experience with virtual teams (cough, you) might assume that’s how employees would spend their days working remotely. If your employees have asked you for the flexibility to work from home, but you feel a bit wary, I’m here to show you how you can make it happen.

 

1. Prioritize Transparency

When managing a remote team, it’s important that your organization has a high level of transparency across projects, tasks, and individual goals. Therefore, it becomes crucial that you use (or begin using) project management systems that can be accessed from any location. The right system should also allow team members to see what their co-workers are accomplishing.

These kinds of management systems allow supervisors to track their teams’ progress and hold individual employees accountable for their work. Not to mention: This transparency makes virtual teams more productive than their in-office counterparts—by an increase of as much as 43%.

My organization utilizes Basecamp to manage various projects because it allows for a high level of transparency within and among different teams. It also keeps file uploads in convenient locations that can be accessed from any device that’s connected to the internet.

Similarly, my company encourages employees to use Google Apps to share our phone conference lines and meeting room schedules, so no shared resources become overbooked.

 

2. Integrate Communication

Unlike employees who work side-by-side, virtual employees may have a harder time receiving timely answers to questions or gaining clarity on a matter they may not fully understand. To solve this problem, include a few preferred communication methods with your employees’ virtual setups.

For example, many companies embrace social intranets like MangoApps or messaging apps like HipChat to keep in-office and virtual employees connected to one another throughout the workday. If anyone—across any team—has a question, he or she can quickly chat another team member and get an answer.

Some might worry that such tools would hinder company productivity when they’re misused. However, if you’ve already taken the necessary steps to create transparency, you’ve minimized the likelihood of people chatting away for no reason—employees are aware that their efficiency (or lack thereof) will be noticed.

Additionally, studies have shown that many virtual employees feel lonely and overlooked as a part of the larger company. Messaging apps and integrated communication can help your team feel more connected to the actual office.

 

3. Think Ahead

Certainly, working virtually isn’t without its challenges. But thankfully, there are already tried-and-true strategies to deal with the most common problems.

An obvious question is: What about bad internet connections? Well, that question also has an obvious answer: Only employees with stable internet connections should be allowed to work virtually. And in the event there is an issue with their home internet, they should know that the expectation is that they’ll go to a local Wi-Fi hotspot or come back into the office (assuming it’s nearby), rather than blaming technical difficulties and taking the day off.

Another common concern is miscommunication. But this problem is pretty easy to solve, too. If something gets distorted via email or chat, set up a Skype call or Google Hangout to explain it in a “face-to-face” format. Even a simple phone call can make all the difference. And, if the other person can’t visualize what you’re saying, try Lightshot. It takes and shares screen shots, which can be a huge help when an employee’s trying to make a point and everyone’s looking at a different computer.

Trust Employees to Work From Home

In a society where technology has successfully removed the gap between physical distances, it’s not surprising to see the increasing popularity of remote jobs.

And, while it’s always possible to approach your boss about working from home, there are companies that specifically hire remote candidates and are known for their virtual workplaces. Check out these companies if going to work on your couch has always been a dream.

 

1. Black Mountain Systems

Black Mountain Systems is an information technology company, changing the way the financial industry manages workflow, data, and analysis. With world-class hedge fund, private equity, and investment management clients, BMS adds operating efficiency and reduces risk—so its clients can focus on high-value activities and exceptional performance.

Speaking of value, BMS values its employees, and because of that it encourages employees to focus on getting their work done—not the hours they’re in the office. The company grants its employees the ability to create their own schedules; if employees need to leave earlier to commute back home, make a doctor’s appointment, or just work remotely—they have management’s blessing to do so.

 

2. Hudl

Simply put, Hudl helps coaches and athletes win. How? By providing a web-based platform where coaches upload game videos, make comments, and break down data for their players. At the moment, Hudl is used by more than 20 pro teams, more than 2,500 college programs, and more than 30,000 high school programs.

Do you live in New York, California, Massachusetts, Texas, Nebraska, or the United Kingdom? Perfect, because you have the opportunity to join Hudl’s remote team. The major company meetings are broadcasted on a private YouTube page, and Hudl flies everyone to its home office at least once a quarter.

 

3. mywedding.com

mywedding.com is on a mission to empower every woman to create a celebration that is uniquely hers. The platform connects couples with local, national, and international wedding professionals, while offering plenty of advertising opportunities for service providers.

Even though most of the staff works from the office in Denver, some of mywedding.com’s sales teammates work remotely. As the company continues to grow, it’s excited to hire even more out-of-state sales consultants.

First Week on a Remote Team

Truth: Surviving your first week at a new job is no walk through the park. Harsher truth: When you join a remote team, where everyone is divided by space and time, picking up on the nuances of your new workplace is a tough journey.

A lack of face-to-face communication introduces a different set of questions and challenges as you try to find your stride on a remote team. Luckily for you, I created this handy guide to help you navigate the experience.

 

1. Review That Onboarding Material

Any company worth its salt will have its own version of a survival guide (a.k.a., “onboarding”). This is your initial employee orientation, and it includes the handbook, rules, and other things that your boss wants you to know before you get started.

Walk through any available resources and knowledge bases the week or weekend before you start. This will help relieve your anxiety on the first day, especially since you won’t have any direct social cues to play off. If there are any apps to download or sites to register for, do it before your first official day so that you can hit the ground running. (Also, reach out to your manager if you’re having any issues on that front.)

That said: Don’t accept everything in the material at face value. Not all onboarding experiences are the same, so if something seems outdated or not aligned with things you’ve been told previously, go ahead and ask for clarification (politely). Trust me: They will appreciate it. In fact, the company may not be aware that the materials are confusing because so few people thoroughly go through the training materials.

Some companies—often smaller or newer ones—don’t have a formal onboarding process. If there aren’t official “Here’s how we do things” documents, keep a list of questions you have as they arise. Since you can’t pop by a colleague’s desk, you will want to have all of your notes in one place to maximize those early check-in calls.

 

2. For the Best Answers, Ask the Right Person

You’re going to have a lot of no-brainer questions in your first few days on the job, naturally!

“Bring it” is the usual attitude response to these inquiries. Your curiosity shows that you’re looking to get things right. However, unlike an in-office job, you can’t as easily turn to the person next to you and whisper any question that pops into your head. So, you’re going to have to reach out to a team member. However, if you ask the wrong person, you may be led down a rabbit hole of incorrect or incomplete information.

If it’s unclear whom you should ask, go to your direct supervisor for a sense of who handles what. Remote teams typically operate at top speed, so bundle your questions. Use your notes to cover a lot of ground in one conversation. (Your new colleagues will love the fact that they’re not spending time responding to emails #4, #5, and #6 from you.)

 

3. Begin Networking From Day One

Most companies will use some combination of communication tools to connect their virtual teams, be it Skype, Google Hangouts, Slack, Campfire, smoke signals, or carrier pigeons. Whatever the trendy apps are, learn how to use them—fast—and use them often.

Start by saying “Hi.”

Engage in general conversations, share relevant articles, say “thank you,” and swap praise. These are your co-workers, just like any other office. Building effective relationships is key, if not even more vital to your success on a remote team.

 

4. Observe, Observe, Observe

Just because you’re not in an office, doesn’t mean there isn’t plenty to see—even if you’re working from a corner of your bedroom. You’re going to have to set aside your ability to decode postures and handshakes. Now, instead of picking up on nonverbal skills, you’ll need to read a range of technical cues to succeed in the remote world. Prepare to be at the mercy of brief video calls, Asana, and a mess of emojis.

Without context, “Goat-beer-rainbow-alien face” might as well be scribble-scrabble.

Pay attention to how quickly your teammates respond to a message and the communication channels they prefer for certain issues (e.g., How often do they respond to an email versus instant messaging apps?). Also, note the vibes during different conference calls. Adopt the patterns you identify as generally accepted, while keeping a personal sense of what gets the job done.

Negotiate Besides Salary

By now, you probably know that a salary is negotiable.

But that’s just one of the workplace policies and perks up for discussion. Whether it’s explicitly said or not, things like flexible working arrangements, maternity or paternity leave, and even the projects you get to work on may not be set in stone.

Of course, this doesn’t mean you should start making demands during first-round interviews or during week one of a new job. But if you’re a valued team member, or starting a senior position, you have a lot more leeway.

“Employees at the start of their career may not have much leverage,” says David Lewis, president and CEO of OperationsInc, a Stamford, CT–based human resources outsourcing and consulting company. “But those with five or more years experience are often in a position to work with their employers to find solutions that make their job a better fit for their lifestyle.”

So, get ready to speak up. Here are five things beyond your salary that you may be able to negotiate—and expert advice on the best way to approach each.

 

1. Flex Time

Contrary to popular belief, many of us aren’t working strict 9-to-5s. Four out of five employees around the world with graduate degrees report having access to flexible working arrangements of some sort, according to a 2013 survey from nonprofit research group Catalyst.

Lest you think flex time is primarily of interest to working moms, the survey found that 50% of all workers without children at home declared flexible working arrangements “very or extremely important.” “Compressed workweeks, reduced work schedules, job sharing, and staggered start and end times are no longer the exception to the rule,” says Anna Beninger, senior research associate at Catalyst who authored the report.

 

How to Get It

First, figure out what exactly it is that you want—instead of asking for broad “flex time,” you should ask for a specific modification, like working from home on Fridays, or leaving an hour early twice a week. Once you’ve narrowed that down, advises Beninger, “ask your supervisor or HR if there’s an existing policy in place, or if they’d consider it.”

Then, she advises, come up with a detailed plan of how you’d fulfill—or even exceed—your current responsibilities under the flex working arrangement, and present it to your supervisor orally or in writing (depending on your comfort level and relationship). If your supervisor is reluctant, consider suggesting a trial period: You would work the modified schedule for six to eight weeks, then make the arrangement more permanent if they’re pleased with your contributions during that

 

2. Promotions and Titles

Think you’re only able to jump a spot on the org chart when it’s time for your annual review? Think again. “If you’ve added value to your organization, even over a several-month period, you may be eligible for a promotion,” says New York City–based career coach and counselor Lynn Berger. “If that’s the case, you should pursue it,” she adds. “The longer you wait to move to your next position, the longer it will take you to move toward your major career goals.”

 

How to Get It

Lay the groundwork by proving yourself a valuable employee (you can start with these tips straight from real bosses) and keeping an eye out for opportunities to ask for advancement. When you approach your manager to ask for consideration, you want to make a good case.

Another tip: Make allies in the workplace by being respectful, helpful, and friendly. “Look for a sponsor, which is someone above you within your organization who advocates for you,” advises Beninger. “Research shows that people with sponsors have more success in their careers.” An advocate within your company understands the politics of your workplace and may be able to help you prepare a customized plan for advancement—or at least put in a good word on your behalf when the opportunity arises.

 

3.Maternity and Paternity Leave

Of all industrialized nations, America continues to lag in pro-parent policies: Paid family leave for new parents isn’t legally mandated, and the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993—which guarantees 12 weeks of unpaid leave—only covers employees at companies with more than 50 workers.

That may explain why just 16% of 250,000 HR professionals surveyed reported that their companies offered paid maternity or paternity leave beyond what is offered through short-term disability, according to a 2011 Society for Human Resource Management poll. Even so, there may still be wiggle room to get more time off after you have a child.

The Reasons Working From Home

I’m a big fan of having the option to work from home, and I believe every company should offer this amenity to its employees. Sure, there are some jobs in which this isn’t possible—I can’t imagine an ER doctor operating out of his living room—but keeping employees locked up in an office building every hour of every day for no good reason just bothers me.

With that said, I don’t work from my couch all the time. Currently, I average once a week, as I have a weekly meeting that’s easier to get to if I spend the day at my apartment. But the truth is, if I didn’t have this regular commitment, I’d probably work from my apartment even less.

I know—some of you who don’t have this luxury are probably saying, “What? You’re crazy! I would stay home as often as possible if I was allowed to!” But, here’s the thing: I actually like going into the office, mainly because of these four reasons.

 

1. I Get to See My Friends

I’ve made some really great friends at my present job, and I truly enjoy spending time with them. When I go into the office, we grab coffee together, celebrate each other’s birthdays over lunch or happy hour, and even hit up the occasional group fitness class together. “Employees report that when they have friends at work, their job is more fun, enjoyable, worthwhile, and satisfying,” says Christine Riordan, President of Adelphi University.

There’s a special type of bond you can form with your colleagues that you just can’t with people outside your company. Because only they really understand the hard work you’re doing, the struggles you encounter, and the annoying emails you always get from Dave in the marketing department.

“Friends at work also form a strong social support network for each other, both personally and professionally,” says Riordan. “Whether rooting for each other on promotions, consoling each other about mistakes, giving advice, or providing support for personal situations, comradeship at work can boost an employee’s spirit and provide needed assistance.”

And, for me, it’s just a lot easier to benefit from these work friend perks when I see them in person. When I work from home, I’m missing out on that face-to-face interaction. And yes, as an ambivert, sometimes that is more than needed. But the truth is, when I decide to hunker down in my apartment for the entire day instead of making the commute, I miss my friends.

 

2. I Have a Better Desk Set-up at the Office

I live in a small one-bedroom apartment in the middle of DC. Do you know what that means? It means that when I work from home, I’m crammed onto my tiny kitchen table in our dining room (a.k.a., the far right corner of our living room).

Hunching over my tiny laptop and trying to maneuver the seven to 10 different documents I usually have open at one time is really not that easy and often proves to be pretty inefficient. While I’m pretty certain that I could be much more productive at home if I had a proper work space, I also know that as it stands now, my employer has provided me a better one than I’ve provided myself. At the office, I have two monitors to utilize (it’s amazing what a difference that can make when you have to compare Excel sheet upon Excel sheet), and a desk that moves from sitting to standing.

 

3. I Can Disconnect More Easily

When I bring my laptop home from the office, the lines begin to blur. A lot. I decided not to have work email on my phone—it’s not required, and my company doesn’t pay for my phone, so why should I? This means that when I leave the office, I actually leave work, instead of checking my email for the entire metro ride home, while exercising, while eating dinner—you get the picture.

Removing that feature from my phone made it a heck of a lot easier to disconnect, something that’s vital for everyone, from entry-level to CEO. As Alice G. Walton, PhD, a science and health writer for Forbes, says, “continuing to communicate with colleagues after hours not only creates stress, but it prevents your brain from relaxing and recouping from a long work day in preparation for the next.”

And it’s true (for me, at least). Last night when I returned home from grabbing a quick drink with a friend, my laptop was open and staring at me from the table. Though it was almost 8 PM and I said to myself, “Abby, you were done three hours ago. You have nothing more to do tonight,” the dreaded thing still beckoned me over, silently convincing me that I needed to make sure no top secret emails came through (I’ll let you in on a spoiler: They never do). And after I checked, I was not only annoyed, but I was then thinking about work. Again. Hadn’t I spend enough time thinking about it already?

What it Really Means to Work Remotely

If you’ve ever been curious about working remotely, we’ve got you covered. Even if it’s not an option for you right now, it’s no doubt a growing trend that’s worth knowing more about. After all, your next position might give you the option to do it.

So, we’ve put together the best resources to get you up-to-date, and even better, how you might explore it and make it fit for you.

  1. Let’s start with the exciting part: Studies have shown that letting employees clock-in without going straight to the office raises productivity. (Harvard Business Review)
  2. And while it seems counterintuitive to bring your business responsibilities back home, there are actually a lot of great reasons why doing so makes sense. (Tech Republic)
  3. Want to see more tangible benefits of remote work? These three companieshave been making it an option for a long time. (Fortune)
  4. Want to try it for yourself? Here are some great guidelines for doing it without getting into hot water. (TIME)
  5. You can also learn from the pros: Read up on the habits of successful remote employees for ways to envision how this could apply to your own trade. (The Next Web)
  6. Can’t imagine this working for you right now? Well, you can still take a page out of remote workers’ books on structuring their days. (The Huffington Post)
  7. Or, if you’re ready to test it out, here’s how to convince your boss to let you give it a stab. (The Daily Muse)

Paying Work From Home Jobs

Want a position with flexible hours and a negligible commute—that also comes with a good salary? I know, sounds like a pipe dream, but if you can find the right work-from-home gig, it could be a reality.

If you’ve considered working from home before, but haven’t been sure where to start in terms of finding an awesome position, check out the infographic below for the top 10 highest-paying jobs you can do from the comfort of your couch (er, spare bedroom).

Because those cozy slippers and floral pajamas aren’t going to pay for themselves.

It’s sage advice for any employee, but it’s even more important when you’re on a remote team, and run the risk of being out of sight and out of mind. Sure, some people assume that’s a benefit of working from home (e.g., How would your boss know if you took a two-hour lunch?) But there’s a flipside to that coin: When you’re exceeding expectations and there are no casual stops by your boss’ desk to fill her in on all you’re doing—how will she ever know?

Pretty obvious, right? Right. But it’s a surefire way to connect with the people you’re working with. Skip the slimy flattery or half-hearted “kudos” here: I’m talking about expressing gratitude and calling it like you see it.

When someone else saves the day, helps you out big time, or goes above and beyond, make some noise. Shoot’um a thank-you badge on Slack! Let your new boss know. Mention it during your next conference call.

People don’t forget this kind of thing, especially when it’s done publicly. The next time they spot you dishing out some awesome, they’ll reciprocate. There’s nothing like having someone else make noise for you!

Work Wherever You Want

Not much of a cubicle person? Luckily for you, plenty of companies nowadays aren’t either—which is why they love giving their employees the option to work remotely, from home, or even away from their desks around the office.

So if you’re craving some space, here are eight companies you should definitely check out for flexible work schedules, remote work roles, plenty of paid time off, and a lot of legroom.

 

1. VMware

A leader in cloud infrastructure, business mobility, and virtualization software, VMware entered the tech industry in 1998—offering game-changing IT solutions and simplified automated delivery systems.

Ranked 21 on Forbes’ “Top 100 Companies for Remote Jobs” (and on the list in 2014, too!), VMware is dedicated to providing employees with relaxed work schedules. The company doesn’t track which employees choose to work remotely and when they decide to do so and offers unlimited vacation time, trusting staffers to take the appropriate amount of leisure time to unwind and recharge.

 

2. DigitalOcean

DigitalOcean is a simple cloud infrastructure provider built for developers—making it easy for them to rapidly deploy, resize, and scale their production environments.

At DigitalOcean, 40% of staff works remotely. Brian Knox, a software engineer, is one of them, and he loves that he can spend time with his family and still be so involved with the company. Because Brian works from home, his days often begin with early morning dog walks and dropping his kids off at school. Around 8 AM, Brian is able to return to his home office and answer emails and then embark on a full day of programming fully refreshed.

“We have a really great remote culture here at DigitalOcean,” he says.

 

3. LivingSocial

LivingSocial is an innovative, web-based marketplace offering amazing deals—from weekend trips to gourmet dinners to one-of-a-kind events.

LivingSocial prizes itself as a company that truly cares about its employees’ well-being. One of the team’s favorite perks is the company’s multiple work-style choices: LivingSocial gives employees the option to work flexible hours in the office and take opportunities to work from home—all while staying connected to team members and the company.

“You’re your own individual here—but you have a great team here to support you,” says Angela Gardner, a marketing specialist.