Ed. note: the following is a guest post by Erin Daiber, a relatable and results-oriented CPA turned coach, speaker & change agent in the accounting profession. She is the founder of Well Balanced Accountants LLC.
Ask For What You Need as a Remote Employee
Being a remote employee can be incredibly rewarding. It allows you the freedom and flexibility to live where you want to live, work from home, work flexible hours and it widens the job pool significantly.
However, being remote is NOT easy. You might experience loneliness, cabin-fever, or not feel like a full member of the team. You may also miss out on some of the perks that other employees receive by being in the office. Some remote employees have shared that they experience a sense of being left out or forgotten about- almost an “out of sight, out of mind”- mentality, whether related to receiving new projects or being included in social events.
As a remote employee, you’ve likely experienced some of these perks and some of the challenges. Here’s the good news: you don’t have to settle for things that aren’t working for you or that are obstacles to succeeding. It is possible to be both an asset to your organization and get the support, training, community, and connection you may miss about being in-person. What’s the key? It’s simple: ask for what you need.
Just because you ask for what you need as a remote employee doesn’t make you weak or a needy, energy-sucking vampire of an employee. Quite the opposite–you’re giving your employer the chance to improve your working relationship and increase the likelihood that you’ll be a long-term employee. What they don’t know CAN hurt them… and you.
Start by understanding your needs
Be prepared for your conversation with your employer or supervisor by first understanding what it is that you need and what you’re ultimately asking for. Consider what you know about yourself and how you work and learn best. If you’ve been in other roles, explore what you loved about those roles vs. what you feel is missing here. These reflections can be good indicators of what you will need to thrive in your new role.
For example, if you’re feeling like you’re alone on a deserted island, what you’re really looking for could be weekly or daily communication with your team members. If you’re having regular contact but not building the relationships you’d like, you might be craving more casual conversation to get to know one another, or a transition from email communication to video. The challenge is to get beyond the surface level frustration to what you really need.
Asking for what you need is a great skill to have in life and as you progress in your career. Most employers will do what they can to meet those needs. However, it’s not their job to figure out how to solve your challenges.
What potential solutions can you imagine that would help meet your needs? You don’t have to arrive at the answer, nor should you get attached to one specific way to address your needs. Come up with a few ideas that would work from your perspective and be ready to bring those to the table during your discussion. Stay open to other potential alternatives that the firm may be more readily prepared to offer.
Take ownership & responsibility
In addition to bringing potential solutions to the table, you can show initiative by taking ownership and responsibility where applicable. It takes two to tango, as they say, and while there may be things that your employer can do to help make you happier, you’ll have to take steps for yourself as well. It’s a sign of emotional intelligence, maturity, and good intentions.
Consider sharing what you’ve already tried to have your needs met. If you haven’t tried anything yet (besides waiting for them to fix it), now might be a good time to practice troubleshooting from above.
What additional steps can you take to thrive as part of this team or organization? For example, if you’re looking for more training or guidance, you can share what you’ve tried (i.e. who you’ve asked for help, what your experience has been) and also share what you’ll do differently going forward (familiarizing yourself with resources or asking clarifying questions if the training you receive is unclear).
The bottom line is that it is your responsibility to ask for what you need as a remote employee.
Make your request clear.
The clearer your request is, the more likely your team will be able to comply. For example, instead of asking for “more contact”, consider being more specific and asking for “daily” or “bi-weekly” calls or check-ins. Sometimes, if we feel needy for even asking, we shy away from making a specific request. Unfortunately, when we leave room for interpretation, we also leave room for disappointment. Practice owning your needs (it’s human!), taking responsibility for them and being willing to partner with your firm to come up with a workable solution so you can both thrive for many years to come.
Take the challenge! Practice asking for what you need to create a powerful working relationship that lasts long into the future.
If you are looking for a remote job, see all our open positions here!