How I transitioned from a 10+ year office worker to remote worker

Sue Chen
Sue Chen
Aug 20, 2019 · 4 min read
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When I found the perfect role at Ergeon, I hesitated because they were an all-remote company. Up to this point, I had been an office worker and I struggled to see how my preferences for face-to-face mentorship and fostering close friendships would translate.

Being cautious, I started a part time role at Ergeon to test it out. To my surprise, I discovered many parallels. At my previous office job, I worked a lot with people based elsewhere. Despite the distance, we became friends and worked effectively together.

This made me realize that remote work isn’t a radical concept. Still, transitioning to remote work full-time comes with some trepidation and I want to share a few practical tips.

Fight for good management practices

One of my biggest fears with remote work was a lack of support and thus growth. If my manager in the same office had not done regular 1–1s with me, what would happen when I’m managed by a person that I would rarely (if ever) meet in person?

Here, I give credit to Ergeon’s management team on their effort to make 1–1s, quarterly reviews, and ongoing employee surveys a standard practice. To my delight, all the managers consistently follow through with these practices. Additionally, Ergeon regularly hosts professional growth workshops.

Being all-remote meant that Ergeon put in good practices from day one. I also learned to make the most of my 1–1s and ask for help much earlier than I would have at a co-located company. It took a while to adjust, but now I see how much I can learn and feel supported without in person meetings.

Look for virtual ways to create personal connections

Another fear I had was being isolated and unable to make new friends at work. But from a different perspective, remote work creates the opportunity to make friends in new places. It’s exciting to learn about people living in different countries and their cultures; it’s just as easy to say “good morning” and “how is it going?” over Slack.

At Ergeon, I’ve participated in virtual happy hours and shared stories on the company group chat. Through this process, I now have friends across the US, Central and South America, Europe, and South Asia.

Make time for informal virtual calls and messages, it’s just as easy as grabbing a coffee with someone.

Find the right ‘office space’

In my first three months, I tried out a variety of places to work. Working at home is the most common option, but I prefer a clear separation with my personal life. The library was too quiet and I was embarrassed by the number of calls I made. Coffee shops are not all created equal: some had unreliable internet or uncomfortable furnishings or insufficient electrical outlets.

In the end, I chose a coworking space as my primary ‘office space’. Coworking gave me a routine and offered a nice environment for working and socializing. I still mix things up with coffee shop sessions and work from home days. Explore your options to find the work-life separation that suits you. If you decide to work from home, invest in creating a separate ‘office’ to clearly break up work life from personal life.

Invest in a good headset

Once you go remote, video calls replace face to face meetings. Getting a good noise cancelling headset is worth every penny. Nothing ruins a video call as much as your kid or pet or strangers (if you are in a public place) making noises in the background and making it hard for people to hear you. The headset should also be really comfortable, so that you feel comfortable wearing it 8 hours a day.

Decide how you will pay yourself

Sometimes, going remote involves becoming an independent contractor. Most people will immediately stop reading the moment the word “accounting” is mentioned. Yet, this is an important part of the transition. I registered a company, and found myself to be responsible for the financial administration like invoicing, collections, applying and filing VAT.

As I reside in a different country from my company, Upwork has made it transparent and secure for me to invoice for my work and receive payment. Still, I found it helpful to seek some professional help to better understand the specifics for my country. Establishing a clear financial plan early on is important and necessary.

Almost a year in, I can confidently say that I’ve made a lot of new friends at Ergeon and through coworking. I’ve explored my city and found fun spots to work at. I am more productive and happier than at my old office job. Remote work pushed me to be more curious, creative, and self-accountable; most importantly it helped me become stronger. Looking back, I am glad I did not need to uproot my life in pursuit of a dream job. I also feel the incredible freedom of being able to work from anywhere in the world.

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Ergeon

We are building the world’s largest, most customer-friendly…

Thanks to Jimmy Soldatos

Sue Chen

Written by

Sue Chen

Ergeon

Ergeon

We are building the world’s largest, most customer-friendly construction company with an all-remote team. Ergeon was founded and is run today by two CS PhD serial entrepreneurs that share a deep passion for utilizing technology to improve how people work.

Sue Chen

Written by

Sue Chen

Ergeon

Ergeon

We are building the world’s largest, most customer-friendly construction company with an all-remote team. Ergeon was founded and is run today by two CS PhD serial entrepreneurs that share a deep passion for utilizing technology to improve how people work.

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