Janelle and Louisa Image
Janelle Stiehl, Account Manager at Commit and Louisa Smith, Senior Engineer Success Coordinator at Commit

Career Transitions Series: Is remote work right for you?

November 16, 2022 in Career Transitions

With the holiday season approaching, you might be bracing yourself for conversations around the dinner table regarding your job.

If you work remotely, explaining to grandma that you work in Vancouver and your boss is in Halifax might take up more time than cooking a holiday meal. It gets you thinking:

  • Is remote work even right for you?
  • Will you ever transition back to an office?
  • Are you happy with your current work situation?

With the ‘return to office’ in effect for tech giants like Apple, a bigger shift may be coming for remote work as we’ve come to know it. Let’s help you get ready.

In this article, we’ll cover:

  • Assessing if your current work situation (in-office, hybrid, or remote) is working for you
  • How to transition to a more aligned option.

Assessing Your Current Workplace

In March 2021, around five million Canadian employees were working remotely. This accounts for over 30% of Canadian workers, which is significantly higher than in 2016, when only 4% of people were working mostly remotely.

That’s a pretty significant shift to remote work. For many of those employees, the shift to remote was forced due to the COVID-19 pandemic. With some companies now returning to the office or adopting a hybrid model, decisions need to be made around whether that new direction aligns for employees; companies may or may not be willing to provide the work environment that helps employees be great workers and also great humans.

If that’s sounding familiar, we’ve created some questions to reflect on to help you make the most aligned decision for yourself.

  • Are you energized by working alone?

Chances are if you work remotely, the likelihood of grabbing coffee with a coworker between meetings is low. For some folks, those micro-communications are what brought them energy and excitement in their work. For others, perhaps the ritual of sitting down at their home office and carving out dedicated time to finish work without the distractions of others is preferred. Considering where you get the majority of your energy from can help you turn towards whatever that looks like. 

  • Do you have strong work boundaries?

Working where you live and living where you work – the thought alone makes some people shudder. Others might be excited about this. If you trend towards bug fixes ‘after hours’, or working on a project during weekends, this becomes much easier to do when you work remotely. We love Trello’s article about finding balance and routine around work. 

  • Does your company foster a healthy culture?

Some companies have work-from-home benefits, such as co-working passes, budget allotments for ergonomic setups, and flexible hours/personal days. Others have ‘unwritten expectations’, such as a monthly in-person meeting that slowly shifts to a bi-weekly, then weekly, then multiple times per week. Get crystal clear on the culture that your company fosters, and determine overlap between their values and yours.

Ultimately, we want your employer to value and invest in you. You deserve nothing less. 

Making the transition

If you’ve decided you want a career change, it can be challenging to make the decision. Pressure from family, colleagues, and even yourself can be paralyzing at times. It might be encouraging to know that sometimes you don’t need to seek out a new job altogether to make that change.

Talk to your manager/HR team about options.

Has another employee in a position similar to yours shifted to a full-remote position before? How about a hybrid model? Your employer may have options, and you’ll only find out if you ask. You may even consider a temporary reassignment – several weeks or months in the format you wish to explore and see if that affects your productivity and happiness. We like these 4 tips to help you initiate that conversation.

If you don’t feel comfortable speaking to your employer about your work location options as an employee, we invite you to better understand that discomfort as a clue for taking appropriate next steps.

Talk to other developers.

Are there people on your team who have made this transition, either in your company or another prior role? Do they have any regrets about the change? It could be beneficial to talk to tech leads specifically about this as they can provide insight as to how their company setup affects their team as a whole when it comes to things like mentorship, productivity, and collaboration. 

Fully understand why you want to make the change.

Are you looking to work remotely to give some space between you and a manager you don’t get along with? Are you hoping to go to the office to escape a messy roommate? Shifts like this may provide temporary relief but won’t create long-term career happiness. Understanding your ‘why’ can help you make a lasting change that will affect happiness in multiple facets of your life outside of work.  

Chances are, your career will last you for many decades, which gives you lots of opportunity to try, make mistakes, and succeed. It can be scary to think that you’ll make the wrong choice, but every career decision opens up a new door for you to venture towards.

We hope that the prompts above help you make a decision that is most aligned for where you are in your career right now.

 To stay up to date on our Career Transitions series, follow up on LinkedIn