We held our latest webinar in our Balancing Work & Cancer series on Wednesday, April 19th on Balancing Remote Work & Cancer, hosted by myself. What once was dismissed by many as a less efficient way of working, has now been widely adopted by employers of all sizes and industries across the globe. This shift has especially been beneficial to people navigating work after a cancer diagnosis who are seeking greater flexibility in their schedules, hoping to eliminate a taxing commute, or embrace any of the other benefits working from home may provide. Of course, working remotely may also come with some challenges, which I’ll cover below.
The presentation was broken into four parts:
Current attitudes towards remote work.Even before the pandemic, remote work was becoming much more acceptable and commonplace over the last decade. In the last four years, flexible work (which includes hybrid and remote work) has grown almost tenfold. According to a McKinsey report in 2022, 35% of job holders said they can work remote full-time, with 23% saying they can work from home part-time. While many organizations who went remote in 2020 have returned to the office, it’s clear that remote work is here to stay.
The challenges of working remotely and strategies for addressing them.Not everyone responds the same way to remote work. Some have found it difficult to not be as social and feel isolated and lonely. Can you find time after work to meet up with friends or find a new hobby that lets you interact with people outside of work? Or maybe you can try to build in some time before a Zoom meeting to catchup with coworkers and have that “water cooler” type conversation you may be missing at home? You’ll also want to find time for self-care. Take a walk, treat yourself to lunch, meditate, pet your dog, flip through a magazine. All of these small acts can help your mental health while working from home. This will be discussed much more in depth during our upcoming webinar on Self-Care: Practical Approaches at Work and Beyond. To learn more, click here.
It's easier for miscommunication, or overall lack of communication while working from home. Make sure to have regularly scheduled check-ins with your supervisor or your team to go over the status of projects, deadlines and anything else that needs to be discussed and get everyone on the same page. For more information on communicating effectively in the workplace, you can view our archived videos from our two-part Communicating Effectively webinars from last year (Part 1 and Part 2), or register for our upcoming session in September and October (More info on Part 1 and Part 2)
Setting Boundaries is something many people struggle with in different aspects of life, and working from home is no exception. People tend to sign on earlier and stay later when they don’t have to work in a commute every day. It can be hard to say no to extra projects or meetings when you don’t have the bandwidth for more work. Being able to identify, express, and stick with boundaries will help in your work/life balance. For more information on Setting Boundaries, click here or check out our archived webinar from last year here.
Finally, disclosure is, in some ways, even more important when working from home. Being in your personal space, it’s easier to let your guard down and accidentally disclose information if you don’t want to. Some tips for this include being aware of what is in your background on any video calls. You’ll want to make sure there isn’t medical equipment or anything else you don’t want to be seen by your co-workers, employer or clients. Also be weary of any tracking being done on a computer given to you by your employer. Some employers track productivity through keystrokes, screenshots of your desktop, or accessing your camera and microphone, while many may track your internet usage, so avoid googling your diagnosis, treatments, medications or doctors on a company issued device. For more information on disclosure, click here.
Strategies for negotiating beginning to or continuing to work from home.The only guaranteed no is to a question you don’t ask. If your job has returned to the office and you are not ready, or your in a position that requires you to be in the office, but you feel you will be more productive or safer working from home, you can approach your boss, or HR, and request permission to work from home. You’ll want to put together a proposal, either written in an email or in notes that you bring with you to a face to face meeting, that expresses the reasons why working from home will be beneficial, and ways you will make sure you can keep up the same quality of work that you’re displaying inside the office. A key to success here is making sure you take into account the needs of your employer, and assure them that you can still meet all of those needs, even in a remote role.
- Tips for looking for a new remote position.When looking for a new job, you can filter on popular job boards for remote positions. While it’s not necessary to have remote work experience to get a job that works remotely, it’s good to highlight past remote experience if you have it. This can be done in the job title (i.e., “Director of Marketing (100% Remote)”), in the job description (i.e., “Led a team of five customer service reps in a completely remote environment and a satisfaction rating of 94%”) as well as in your skills section (i.e., Time and task management, communication, self-management, the ability to work independently, comfort with technology, etc). For more information, visit the Looking for Work section of our website here.
For more information on remote work, check out our Balancing Remote Work and Cancer Survival Guide which can be downloaded for free as a PDF, or order a physical copy here. You can also visit the remote work section of our website here. Thank you to all who joined us and we hope to see you for our next webinar coming up in less than two weeks on Building Confidence at Work. You can find more information here and register (for free).