What I wish I knew before working remotely
I got my first job out of graduate school at a small non-profit with dreams a lot bigger then it's staff.
Like a lot of people living in the D.C. area and drawn to its cherry blossom streets, I was an overachiever. I not only believed in the power of the individual to change the world but thought I and the people I knew would be the ones to do it. When paired with an organization that "punched above its weight," this was a recipe for challenge, growth, and opportunity.
This may sound like the situation of a lot of young professionals living in D.C. The only difference here was that the organization was virtual. I had my job interview in a Le Pain Quotidien and wondered what my selection of a granola parfait said about me as a potential hire.
This is what I noticed: When you're young and hungry and don't have kids that need to be picked up from school, flexible hours don't mean you're waking up at 8:59 a.m. and calling it a day at 5 then heading to happy hour.
Instead you're working until the sun sets (in the summer!), judging new hires that leave the office at 5, and saying things to your manager like "I'll sleep when I'm dead," (much to their dismay, to their credit!)
If you know you're kind of the person who will spend every moment at work trying to prove why you are a good hire like I am, I'll let you know what I wish I had known before I got the gig:
Take a walk in the middle of the day.
Make a coffee date with your co-workers and get to know them as people.
Take Monday off when you work all weekend.
Work on projects that feed your soul.
You're going to leave that job one day and you won't remember what random projects had you so stressed. But if you let yourself, a flexible working arrangement will allow you to be stretched in ways you can't imagine. You'll have friends that you will go to happy hour with, and brunch too.
I would tell young Chimdi: You work hard, and that's good. It's great to care about the work. But care about yourself first. And honestly, way way more.