There is a certain irony to the idea of information technology (IT) professionals working in remote information technology jobs. After all, it’s the work of IT pros that has led to the technology involved in doing remote jobs from home, isn’t it.
Indeed, there are a number of factors that have led to the rise of remote working jobs in general. There is the technology, especially those associated with unified communications (UI) that provide various platforms to interact remotely, including web/video conferencing, desktop sharing and various other constantly evolving technologies.
In addition, remote work from home jobs, especially for IT professionals, have become more common because the concept simply makes a lot of sense. From needing short-term IT solutions and/or temporary replacements, to the general desire of alleviating transportation gridlock and providing flexible work accommodations, remote work from home jobs are becoming more common, and there are various things IT pros can do to take advantage.
Let’s take a look at how information technology specialists can make better use of the remote job opportunities available in today’s marketplace.
Type of Employer/Client. First, IT professionals should take note that, despite the availability of remote work jobs in the industry, not every client is looking for remote IT pros. In general, there are two types of employers/clients looking for remote IT help. First, there are those looking for short-term help, in which case a remote option might work for them. Second, there are some companies looking for the kinds of IT workers that are more amenable to working remotely. You should research those, or go on to the next paragraph.
Type of IT Work. Although the evolution of technology has been such that so much can be done from just about anywhere on the planet, the fact is that, for various reasons, some types of IT jobs are better suited for on-site work, while others are more compatible with the remote option.
For example, some companies and clients simply need a dedicated IT technical support team onsite in order to build a lasting relationship where immediate needs are met on location. On the other hand, certain IT roles, such as software engineers or technical consultants, are very suitable for remote job opportunities. So, either pick the right IT role for remote work, or the types of firms/clients looking for remote help, especially for the short-term.
A Proper Setup. At the heart of remote IT jobs is having the right remote setup. In other words, you need the technology at your remote location or home office that lends itself to servicing your client or employer — remotely.
The kind of technological setup essentially involves two components. First, there might be technological infrastructure that your client or employer needs you to hook into — remotely. So, obviously, a great internet connection is a must. But, as importantly, so is infrastructure compatibility. For example, if your client has remote desktop services on Windows Server, you should have the ability to plug in, too.
In addition, those UI technologies mentioned above? Web conferencing, shared desktops? Mobile messaging? As an IT pro doing work remotely from home, at the very least, you should be willing to use some of these technologies. Which ones? Let’s move on to the next item on our list.
Adapt to the Client. If there is one distinguishing characteristic between being a full-time employee on-site, and an independent IT specialist working remotely from home, it’s that a full-time employee has the luxury of doing everything on the same equipment using the same technology every day. The IT worker usually no such luxury. Instead, he or she should have the ability to adapt to the remote client’s needs.
This kind of flexibility can mean many different things: from something as simple to using Google Voice versus Skype, to something more complex such as Windows Server versus Linux. As much as some IT remote workers would prefer to use one type of method versus another, the adage that the customer is always right applies to many remote freelancers. Meeting the client’s needs is always paramount for independent IT specialists.
Furthermore, working remotely is also about more than using the preferred technology of your clients. Especially as information technology specialists, using various technologies should always be a strength. Instead, remote workers also need to adapt to the personal styles of their clients, because they’re often going to be different. Some might want personal telephone/conferencing interaction frequently on a daily basis, while others are fine with infrequent summary emails. Learning what your client/employer prefers is paramount to developing long-term successful relationships in the field.
The Personal Touch. In that same vein, while working remotely from home may have many advantages, such as personal choice and freedom, as well as not having someone constantly looking over your shoulder, remote work does come with the potential disadvantage of not only not communicating frequently enough, but not getting to know your clients well, enough, too. Since many people/clients are often positively impacted through personal interaction, implementing technologies and tactics to that end — remotely — can make all the difference in the world.
Again, getting to know what will work with your client/employer is crucial, but potential possibilities include quick phone calls to verify small work issues (which could lead to longer discussions on what you all did last weekend), setting up predetermined schedules for web conferences, or even establishing a regimen of on-site visits. Some employers/clients will insist on this from the outset, while others could be convinced of their value — by you. But never press the issue if the client is not yet convinced of their value.
Be Part of the Team. One of the greatest objectives any IT remote worker can accomplish is to be seen as part of your employer’s/client’s team, especially an indispensable part of the team. This isn’t always easy, especially since remote workers can become collateral damage from on-site politics beyond their control. However, given that IT workers have technical knowledge often beyond the reach of on-site people, being the go-to person on the team when needed is an invaluable achievement that can ensure long-term relationship-building.
Be a Manager. Part of the decision to work remotely as an IT professional is the assumption of more responsibility — on a number of levels. And these responsibilities need to be managed. From adopting technologies your clients need, to paying your own electric bills, these are all things that require the skills of a manager, at least at some small level. So, the more you see yourself in that role, the more prepared you’ll be for the challenges that come with managing your own remote work environment.