Web working is not for everybody. Those who do it tend to have traits and personalities that fit the web working life. For others, it means making sacrifices they don’t want to make. “I don’t really understand why people would like to work at home. It’s like reducing to the minimum (almost nothing) the barrier between professional and private life,” comments Chris on Georgina’s recent post, “How To Ask the Boss If You Can Work Remotely.”
In interviewing people in web working careers, one fact is clear: Many of us share similar specs beyond motivation and organization. I asked some web working colleagues what it takes to make a successful web worker. Do you have the right components to become a fine-tuned web worker machine?
Containing the Right Specs
Thursday Bram: Web workers must be self-starters — it’s too easy to procrastinate if you can work anywhere or at any time.
Stephen P. Smith: Creativity — as in finding creative ways to connect and serve your clients/customers — is very important, as well as flexibility in scheduling and work locations.
Jen Slayden: Web workers must have inner support — things they do to motivate themselves.
Monica Valentinelli: The ability to adapt to change.
Lisa Tener: The ability to synthesize the information out there. What information is going to be important or optional, how much you need to know yourself and how much you can outsource.
Lorrie Thomas: Must be “can doers.” Web workers don’t have the luxury of spinning their work chair around and asking for help. The secret to web workers working anywhere and succeeding comes from a can-do attitude and a desire to solve problems independently.
Having More Than Tech Support
Jen Slayden: Outer support: Networking with people in the same boat, for example.
Mary Shaw: Must be comfortable with isolation during the workday. They also need to get offline and out on a regular basis.
Dawn Martinello: Having your family onboard. When your family knows you are right on the other side of the door, it’s easy to pop in and ask for help because it will take “a quick second.”
Mrinal Desai: Ability to stretch and sustain relationships through offline touch points — email, phone and then, if possible, meeting at conferences, coffee, etc.
Chris Burbridge: Emotional intelligence. For example, a person who gets too into the technology side of things can geek out and forget about keeping the client satisfied beyond tech needs.
Venturing Out of the Computer Box
Katherine Lynch: I think you need to get out in the world. I’ve created a wine club to go along with my blog, and it’s done wonders for getting my name out.
Reza Tehranian: Stay on top of trends and the market.
Martin Amm: Participate in social media conversations without an agenda. It builds trust and credibility.
Kathleen DesMaisons: Having the ability to see the people rather than the computer screen.
Brandon Muth: Pith, humor and the real life people skills to turn off their computer, stop tweeting and actually have face-to-face interaction with humans on a daily basis. Without these qualities you can quickly turn into an insulated, isolated weirdo who doesn’t offer much benefit to society, other than the ability to inundate us with more tweets than we could ever digest and bore us to tears about your latest late night experiment with some lame new plugin.
Working like a Fine Machine
Yaron Sinai: The ability to easily understand new tools or applications without a lot of explanation. A software developer, for example, will need to be able to quickly master new development tools and procedures without hand holding from co-workers or superiors.
Reza Tehranian: Be at the top of your industry and game.
Communicating Without Geek Speak
Stewart Mader: A strong ability to communicate about what you’re doing. If you work for a company, you need to be good at using the intranet, enterprise wiki or other social computing tools to keep others up to date on what you’re doing, ask for their feedback and make sure they know you’re available to help them too.
Amy Hoy: Ability to cultivate a generous interpretation of emails, to-do’s, meetings and the other mishaps that inevitably happen when we’re not there in person.
Cindy Alvarez: The ability to identify assumptions. I managed a team of product managers and interaction designers in India, and the single trait that the most successful ones shared was the ability to identify assumptions — the assumptions they were working under as well as the assumptions that they perceived that their teammates were working under.
Have the Right Accessories
Aaron Price: A shower and toothbrush. You may not realize it, but the first thing you do everyday should be to shower and brush your teeth. You’ll feel more professional and you’ll get more done.
Hank Stroll: Set up your workstation with ergonomics in mind or else your office will be a pain in the rear.
Aaron Price: A good chair. If you’re working on the web, chances are you’ll be sitting in front of the computer all day. You can actually develop a problem in your spine — a real pain in the butt — called coccydynia.
Undoubtedly, many have managed to succeed as web workers despite missing key specs. They work their “processors” harder to overcome something that doesn’t come as part of their package. This can create one short-circuited web worker, but for some, the sacrifice is worth it.
What other specs do you need to be a lean, mean web working machine?
Photo credit: Stefanie L.