Moving Remote to Remote

SEP 6, 2016 • Written by David Grieser

My first job out of college took me 1,500 miles from where I grew up. After a year of working there, I spent most days working from home along with my other coworkers. The team commuted to a single point about once a week since we enjoyed hanging out with each other, and it helped us catch up on what we were working on. Shortly after this, I had a desire to move back home to spend time with family, but wanted to keep working with a great team. That wasn’t a problem and this soon unlocked the awesomeness that was being remote.

The freedom to live where I wanted paired with the ability to do the same job I did in an office – only now at home or wherever I chose – was just amazing. Working remotely came fairly naturally to me. I am just now experiencing my first “remote to remote” work transition. And, as I’m settling in, it got me reflecting upon the previous job transitions I’ve had and what I liked and disliked about each of them.

To me, there are really four types of transitions:

  • Onsite to onsite
  • Onsite to remote
  • Remote to onsite
  • Remote to remote

ONSITE TO ONSITE

This is the typical job change. If you have a desk, you pack up what’s yours and take it home. When you start your new job, you first just take yourself to work. Then, you slowly bring in the items you took home from your last job:

  • Pictures of family
  • Favorite notebook
  • Fun daily calendar with quotes or puzzles

As for equipment, you might be getting a brand new machine since you’re a new hire. Over time, you might scrounge up a second monitor and some office supplies. Eventually, you have your little piece of paradise.

ONSITE TO REMOTE

This change is similar to onsite to onsite. Once your things are home, however, one of two things may happen:

  1. Everything stays in a box due to a lack of dedicated workspace.
  2. You have a dedicated workspace, and everything gets put in the right place.

Then, there’s the equipment to set up:

  • Computer
  • Second monitor (or not)
  • Desk
  • Chair
  • Headphones (these are important)

Maybe the company you’re working for is going to provide these, maybe not. Either way, they are things you will need.

As you get all of this set up at home, you’re finally able to feel comfortable in your space each day and really focus on getting things done. Missing the water cooler interaction can be tough, if you spent a lot of time getting water. This interaction is something I try to recreate by chatting with coworkers or doing pairing sessions.

REMOTE TO ONSITE

Going back to onsite happens. It could be because you need to work around people again or you want to explore a new opportunity that just hasn’t adopted the remote mindset. Either way, this transition can be a bit disorienting.

If you didn’t work out of a coworking space during your remote gig, you’re now going to start commuting every day. I suggest podcasts, as they help better utilize the time spent in the car.

There was no pack up of the previous onsite job. Your home office is still there. For me, this was tough. My setup at home was superior than at my new office. Over the time I worked remote, I’d adjusted it, and everything was just right.

Now, there’s a freshness to getting a new workspace. You’ll also most likely be getting a new machine again to use while at the office. The space at this point feels so empty. To me, it became a priority to bring things in to make the space feel more comfortable. At times, though, I always found a reason I would rather be at my home setup. At the end of the day – and there’s more of a hard ending time –, there’s the commute back home.

Most of the time, I remember appreciating the moments spent with coworkers in the office more than the work itself.

REMOTE TO REMOTE

This transition, the first time for me, is very different. Your home office is already set up. It’s now the virtual one that changes. The “set up” that is required is a little different:

  • Configure new email
  • Join new chat programs
  • Set up different project management tools

After that, you meet and interact with the team, similarly to your last job. There’s no removing or adding a commute. You don’t have to change much of anything. Yet, the freshness of the transition is there. That is what you get to experience.

SETTLING IN TIME

I appreciate this transition because I get to focus on just meeting the team and then doubling down on work. It also leverages the investment I’ve made in my personal home office setup.

Even though, overall, it’s been an amazing experience, I’m not saying I want to constantly move from remote job to remote job. There’s a hidden cost to that transition. A human cost. Because the startup time of getting to know everyone virtually and understanding how everyone works and interacts is a big investment. And one that shouldn’t be discounted.