People have a pretty stereotypical view of employees who work remotely. It’s something along the lines of of spaghetti-stained track pants worn by a slacker with their blinds drawn, binge-watching their favourite show with a trail of snacks from their shirt to the coffee table. All while they’re on company time ‘working remotely’ while the other suckers are stuck in the office.
Working remotely and being productive aren’t typically seen as going hand-in-hand. But statistics say that it can lead to happier, more productive employees who are less inclined to be distracted by office banter, politics, or the ‘who stole my lunch from the fridge’ dramas.
So, how do you challenge stereotypes and demonstrate to the world how to be an awesome remote employee? Communication and accountability are the keys.
Give timely responses
Responding to emails, voicemails or other communication in a timely fashion shows your employer and colleagues that you’re attending your work as you would in any office setting. By making sure you’re taking care of time-sensitive or urgent requests as they come through, or even just acknowledging you’ve received the info, you’re reassuring your team or boss that even though you’re not physically there, you’re paying attention to your colleagues and workload.
Don’t spare the detail
There are a lot of context cues that occur when you’re communicating in person that no amount of text can replace. Speaking in person also has the added perk of getting an immediate response and being able to clarify any details that are unclear on the spot. Email and messenger are a little trickier to navigate.
You can answer any foreseeable questions and clarify details by pre-empting them and covering off the information in your initial communication. Read the message aloud and ask yourself any questions that you would think of when reading it.
Pencil in regular meetings
You can keep your finger on the pulse of your organisation by having regular team meetings or one-on-ones with your boss and keeping up to speed with projects, changes, or news. Regular meetings are also a great way of providing a personalised snapshot of what you’re up to with your workload and offer the opportunity to get real-time feedback on ideas and topics raised.
Provide regular updates on your progress
Once a task is assigned to you, your employer is trusting that you’re being productive and working towards achieving it in a reasonable timeframe. Don’t leave your boss drumming their fingers on a desk wondering whether you’re actually working on what you’re supposed to be.
Providing regular updates on your workload and task completion via email, chat, or any other task-based software program will help set their minds at ease that you’re getting it done.
There might be lots of temptations around you if you’re working from home. Things need to be cleaned, the dog needs to be walked, the new season of your favourite show just launched… Staying focused in a home office can be a challenge, but one you need to power through if you’re going to make working remotely successful.
Having a dedicated space to work from is a great way of utilising the ‘out of sight, out of mind’ technique for resisting distractions. If you find that you’re not able to separate work and home as well as you need to, changing up your environment might be necessary. Find a café with free Wi-Fi, or a quiet outdoor space that will allow you to focus on the task at hand without feeling like you’re neglecting your laundry or pets.