How to Succeed in a Remote Start Up

Whether we like it or not, we are in the age of career transitions. Professionals who have built long tenures with specific companies or industries are looking for a change. Gone are the days where your work environment consisted of muted cubicle walls, blinding fluorescent lights, and the smell of a coworker’s reheated lunch. Throughout your new job exploration, you may have found a role at a remote start-up piqued your interest. Working at a remote start-up can be an exciting and challenging opportunity. If you are considering a career change into this space, here are a few tips to help you succeed.

Communicate Effectively

Since you won’t be working in the same physical space as your team, it is more important than ever to be intentional about how you communicate. Be direct and clear with your communication, and take advantage of tools like Slack, Zoom, or Google Meet to stay connected. A balance of brevity and over-communication are key in ensuring successful communication with your teams.

Pro tip: Always begin your virtual interactions with a friendly greeting. Humanizing your digital communication helps keep a friendly environment and introduces a positive tone to the conversation.

Lean into self-discipline

Working remotely can come with a lot of flexibility, and if it is your first time outside of a structured 9 to 5, it is natural to experience some challenges with staying on task and being productive. Remote work and flexible hours require a lot of self-discipline. Create a routine that works best for you and your peak focus times. Set clear objectives with daily or weekly deadlines to keep yourself on track. And don’t forget to implement “break times” to make sure you are still able to step away from your work for things like lunch, walking breaks, etc.

Pro tip: Create “check-in” and “check-out” rituals that are non-negotiable. Identify 2-3 actions you’ll start your work day with every day, and 2-3 actions you’ll end your day with every day. No matter the schedule or workload, these two rituals will act as priming exercises to cue your brain to know when it is time to work, and when it is time to disconnect.

Get comfortable with the unknown

Start-ups can be unpredictable on their own. Add working remotely to that reality and you have an extra layer of uncertainty. This may sound scary now, but it is one of the biggest attractors to start-up work. Your work becomes an adventure. Much like Indiana Jones, you’ll need to be prepared to adapt to changes and challenges quickly. Stay open to feedback, be willing to learn, and don’t be afraid to ask questions.

Pro tip: Always take a moment to zoom out. It is easy to get stuck in the day-to-day, task or project tunnel. Challenge yourself to zoom out, and ask yourself “what am I doing”, “why am I doing it”, “what can it become”, and “what could get in the way”. By having a bigger picture of your work, you allow yourself to be more prepared for changes and challenges.

Participate in the community

Your remote start-up doesn’t have the opportunity to ring a bell throughout the office when a milestone is reached, or decide to go grab drinks after the day is done. But that doesn’t mean that the culture and community don’t exist. Prioritize staying connected. Make an effort to participate in group activities such as coffee chats, virtual game nights, and book clubs. These activities give you an opportunity to get to know the people behind the titles and roles at your company. Beat the isolation of remote work by familiarizing yourself with the community and immersing yourself in the culture.

Pro tip: Find an aspect of the community that matches with your personality, and commit to that first. Maybe small talk isn’t your jam, but you love to nerd out with people and learn more about areas you aren’t already familiar with. Coffee Chats probably won’t be your cup of tea (no pun intended), but you may find that Lunch & Learns are right up your alley.

If you’re looking for new opportunities, don’t let the words “remote” or “start-up” scare you away. There are many benefits to working for a remote start-up, both personally and professionally. Take the leap, take the role, and use these tips for a successful and enjoyable experience in your new environment.