Working with AI as a Remote or Hybrid Employee
January 20, 2023 · 10 min
Around a Billion of us work remotely at least one day a week. We’re not great judges of crowds at BillionMinds, but that sounds like a lot of people! Yet despite so many of us getting work done outside of a formal office setting, very few have given serious thought on how to do it really well. Over the past few years, the team at BillionMinds has been studying thousands of remote workers, talking to people who do it really well, people who just get by, and people who really struggle with it. In the process, we discovered a lot of things that surprised us – things we want to share with you today.
When given the chance, 87% of people choose to work outside a formal office setting – that’s not surprising because of all the freedom it affords. But once you are actually doing it, there can be challenges. Sure, we are beyond the height of pandemic restrictions, where many of us had to find space for partners and kids to get things done, plus try to be a loved one, parent, and assistant teacher all in one go. But that doesn’t mean it’s all sunshine and roses. Our research shows that 90% of people who work remotely on a regular basis, struggle with at least one of the following: lack of enthusiasm, switching off from work, or connectedness with others.
Of course, none of that means that remote work is INHERENTLY bad for us, just that most people have not figured out how to do it well yet. We mentioned that 90% figure, but on the other side of the equation is a pretty remarkable 10% – people who, through a combination of experience and conscious skills development, have got this remote thing figured out. So, it’s doable – it just takes an understanding of what the issues are, and a commitment to developing habits that are compatible with GREAT remote work.
There are some great tools you can get to help you do remote work more effectively, such as those recommended by B2BReviews. But there is some merit to the phrase “a bad workman blames his tools”. The fact is that the best tools in the world are no substitute for great remote work skills. In our research, we found that the top 10% of remote workers vary quite a bit in the tools they use – some rely on the same software you probably use. Others have developed a niche set of tools that works well for them, and still others are “MacGyvers” building out their own systems to perfectly optimize every day. But whatever these people do – they have all discovered, focused on, and embedded the same skills.
Having SOME level of organization has always been important, and it’s no different in remote and hybrid work environments. But what may have changed is WHAT needs to be organized. If you work remotely you are probably working much more asynchronously, and you are working in systems that are designed to make it really easy to find things. Is it really worth making hundreds of decisions each day on where to file stuff, when anything you do need is just a quick search away? Whether it is or not is largely up to you, but the top remote workers have used going remote as an excuse to question and optimize their organizing habits, favoring systems and processes that ensure that what they need is always available and always easy to find. Often that means a less complex organizing structure and using cloud-based storage over local storage.
Remote environments are typically more ambiguous and unstructured. That can lead many people to feel that they lose control over their day. This can be losing the ability to get everything done when you want to, losing control over your calendar as other people fill it up, or even losing the ability to focus as others interrupt you. Top remote workers know how to retain just enough control, but they also know how to balance that against the needs of others in their team.
Are you always excited to start the day? Now, be honest about it. As work and the rest of life start to merge, almost all of us struggle with this. In our research, we’ve found that many people find it difficult to start the day effectively and it’s often because they never really finished it the day before. Great remote workers know how to create environments that improve their motivation, and are comfortable with riding the natural ebbs and flows of motivation that happen during the day, week, and even year.
Work/Life balance used to be a simple equation – less time at the office = more time doing everything else. But with everything merging together that doesn’t really work anymore. The remote workers who have really figured things out now understand that balance is really about doing great work in the context of life, and that for work to work, your life has to work. They put into place the right systems to ensure that they focus on ALL aspects of their lives, and in doing so, are sustainably effective at remote work.
As we mentioned, remote work environments are typically less structured and more ambiguous. That means that new requirements can come out of the blue that force you to rip up the best-laid plans. Does that mean you shouldn’t bother planning at all? Well, that’s not what we’ve seen. Instead, people who excel at remote work DO make plans but do them to create a baseline of understanding on WHAT to change when the unexpected happens. They basically act like a sports team, knowing what they intend to do, but always prepared to adapt.
You’ll notice that as we’ve explained these skills, we have not prescribed a specific HOW to work on each of these skills. That’s because there IS no specific how. You don’t have to get up at 5am to be great at remote work, nor do you have to turn every to-do item into a calendar invite. There is no ONE great trick that only the pros know. The techniques that work best for you are the ones that fit best with who you are. We’ve designed the BillionMinds program to help everybody discover THEIR best remote work techniques, and in doing so truly embed the five skills they need.
Not exactly. Most accurately, remote work skills are a set of soft skills (Organization, Control, Motivation, Balance, and Resilience) that have been honed to thrive in a remote or hybrid work environment. Working outside of an office IS fundamentally different, and until you have been doing it for a long time, you probably don’t fully realise how different. But by refining the five skills we’ve outlined here, you can thrive in a remote work environment.
Well, the easiest way is to prove you have them through certification. All BillionMinds users can study for and pass our Remote Work Professional Certification – it’s included in their subscription. The certification can be posted on LinkedIn and included in a Resume.
Well, simply put, they have honed the skills discussed in this article, all in the context of remote work.
This is a bit of a bad news/good news story. Most of the people we studied who were great at remote work had been on a personal journey that took years. However, our program is designed to bring that down dramatically. You can gain a deep understanding of the changes you need to make within a few days, and start embedding new behaviors that will help you for the rest of your working life within a few weeks.