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Beyond the Tech: How Do You Define Remote Work?

Beyond the Tech
(Image credit: Future)

If you have been returning to work (like many of us), you will find the working landscape has certainly changed. What was once taboo among integrators is now the norm. Frankly, for many years I have addressed the almost hypocritical view we have had on what we do: While we promote videoconferencing as being a viable means of communication, employees have been heavily restricted from using what we sell.

Nonetheless, let’s talk about the remote aspect of this new landscape, as I have encountered a few issues and have heard about others from recruiters and industry associates.

According to the dictionary, “remote” means “separated by an interval or space greater than usual.” Yeah, that is most certainly what we are doing. As it stands, there are actually two different types of remote work, local-remote and full-remote, and there are a few important points for each that are often overlooked.

Local vs. Full-Remote

Full-remote is work where you have no requirement whatsoever to report to either your employer’s brick-and-mortar location or another location. Local-remote is work where you are, of course, local to your employer and/or where you will need to report to on a pre-determined basis. Whether it’s a specific day (or days) of the work week, as well as on an as-needed basis, you have to live where you work.

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Be wary of this intermittent hybrid reporting to work policy; find out if it is permanent or not. Some employers may not give you the courtesy of letting you know remote work rules only apply until the company has decided its pandemic office policies are officially over. While you think you only have to go into the office on Mondays, your employer may say a year from now that it was only temporary. Suddenly, if you do not come to the office every day, you will lose your job.

The issues I have run across run both ways. Often, potential employers may advertise the position as remote, but they actually mean local-remote and do not clarify that in their posting. Even if you note in your resume that you are looking for a remote position, did you clarify that you are looking for either full-remote work or if are willing to relocate? Even if you did, it may be overlooked.

While you think you only have to go into the office on Mondays, your employer may say a year from now that it was only temporary.

No one wants to waste time, so it’s important to really clarify what you want. For employers, it’s easy: Be transparent and post it in the headline of the job. For potential employees, I highly recommend a cover letter where you spell out exactly what you are willing to do with regard to working remote.

Whether you are willing to work a few days in the office, relocate, or even have a preference on specific working days/hours, make it clear in advance. I can understand your hesitation in disclosing this information, but thinking you can deal with it once you land the job is a bad way to begin your new gig.

Travel Rules

Another aspect I want to discuss is travel. You may not typically think of it, but it is an important factor, especially with the restrictions and cancelations that appear to be here for a while.

What are their travel requirements—and what are your requirements for travel? From what I have seen, both local-remote and full-remote positions can require anywhere from 10-50 percent travel. Jobs that are 100 percent remote with no travel are very scarce in our industry.

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Travel should be covered in your cover letter, including exactly what you are willing and not willing to do. If you are local-remote, travel may include visits to client sites, including the possibility of an overnight stay after a local drive to a remote part of the state or region.

Many of the larger integrators, especially ones with multiple offices, will require you to jump on a flight for a day trip or extended time out of state.  This also goes for full-remote positions.

Speaking of flights, before you are hired is the right time to find out about the company’s policy on travel expenses, such as mileage, meals, and lodging. Will you be provided a company credit card, or do you have to submit expenses? In my experience, I’d rather not submit receipts and wait for reimbursement, because the process is time consuming (and can sometimes be delayed or even denied).

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Does your prospective employer adhere to federal guidelines for mileage reimbursement? Perhaps they pay more or less...or not at all. Do you have flexibility in your meal choices, or do they expect you eat fast food for dinner? You should also discuss sleeping arrangements for business travel. Are you expected to share a room with fellow employees?

The last caveat you need to address during the interview process (and may not be mentioned in the job posting) is equipment and expenses for working remote. Who will provide the computer, printer, monitors, keyboard, mouse, software, back-up drive, high-quality internet connection, cell phone, etc.? These expenses add up fast.

State what equipment you have and whether you will need any equipment in the performance of your job. You should also discuss reimbursement for your internet connection, cell phone for work, etc. 

Douglas Kleeger
Douglas Kleeger

Doug Kleeger, CTS-D, DMC-E/S, XTP-E, KCD, is the founder of AudioVisual Consulting Services.