Working remotely can require a real shift in what you accept as normal. My entry into telecommuting was pretty typical, working from home occasionally due to bad weather or illness. My next employer was also based in a traditional office, but I could work at home one day a week as a “perk”. Eventually, the office was shut down and the staff was set up to telecommute permanently. Since we were all in the local area, we would still get together for meetings, only we met in a coffee shop instead of a conference room. I had flexibility, but still felt very connected to the traditional business environment.

Searching for a Telecommuting Job

But when it came time for me to find a new job, I discovered that after working remotely full-time, going back to rush-hour drives and business-casual attire didn’t feel right. Fortunately, an opportunity arose with a company that required that I telecommute, since the nearest office was out of state. But this time, instead of interacting remotely with colleagues I already knew, I would be going into a total unknown situation. I wondered how the interviews would be handled, thinking I would have a face-to-face meeting eventually.

To my surprise, the entire process was handled over the phone and email. Other than some casual social media profile stalking, I had no idea what my interviewers looked like and vice versa. Phone screens are nothing new, but to rely entirely on my resume and my voice to convince this company to hire me was uncharted territory.

Starting a New Job at a Virtual Company

Somehow, it worked: I was hired, and soon boxes came to my door with computer equipment. I set it up in my home office, and then Monday at 8am rolled around. I settled in at my desk as usual, but now I worked for a new company. There was no walk around the office to see where the kitchen was, or shaking hands with coworkers whose names I would promptly forget after being overloaded with information. Everything was the same… just completely different! Despite my comfort level with working at home, I was grateful when I found out I would be flying out to one of the main offices to have more training. It made the job feel more real.

Business Travel When You Work From Home

I received my travel information and off I went, 900 miles away to meet my new team. I was told my manager would be flying in at the same time, so he would find me at the airport and we would share a rental car. At this point I realized just how insane that would be under any other circumstance. There I was, traveling to a strange city, meeting up with a man I’d never actually met before, and letting him drive me to a hotel. I was failing Internet Safety 101.

But as bizarre as it all felt, it was completely uneventful. I met my boss, we had a good laugh about how we were basically on a career blind date, and I spent the week feeling awkward in cubeville. (I need a badge to get back in the office after using the restroom? Will the guy over at the printer please stop looking at my screen? Am I talking to myself out loud again?)

My Name is Jenifer and I am a Telecommuter

Fast forward to today, and I am so accustomed to the work-at-home world that going back to a traditional office would feel foreign. The phone-only interviews, the same desk/new job moment, and the colleagues you never meet in person are all familiar experiences for me now.

I now work for a 100 percent virtual company—FlexJobs has no physical space and our staffers are scattered across the country. It is a big step adapting to the remote working world, but if you take the plunge you may find you wouldn’t have it any other way.

photo credit: thinkstockphotos.com