The tremendous advances in mobile, cloud, and collaboration technologies that we’ve seen in just the past 5 years have altogether transformed how we live, the way we do business, and how we interact with others. One of the major outcomes of the 21st century digital age has been the growth of the remote worker. Not too long ago being physically present in the office was the only way to get our work done. Fortunately, today there are alternative ways to communicate and collaborate from long distances. Global communications have advanced to the point that someone living in Boston can easily telecommute to Seattle or someone in London can tie in remotely to an office in New York.
Given the increasing frequency of online work, we thought it’d make sense to list out a set of best practices to adopt to make your experience more efficient, productive, and fun. Here are some quick tips to keep in mind when working remotely.
Keep your deadlines: Since you’re obviously not in the office with frequent line of sight to your manager, it’s important that you keep to your agreed upon deadlines. Don’t give your boss reason to suspect that you’re doing other things than what you’re getting paid for. Deliver your assignments on time and if possible get them in a day or two early just to show that you’re tracking your time responsibly.
Keep in touch with your team: Staying connected is vital for your success as a remote worker. Each situation will vary in terms of expectations around communications, but by and large the more you speak to your team the better. Leverage the latest collaboration and communication tools such as Lync, or whatever is preferred, in order to keep in touch with your colleagues. Be creative and even inquire about the possibility of getting any one of a growing number of lower cost mobile telepresence devices on the market (i.e., Double Robotics, Beam+, PadBot) to help improve collaborations with your home office. Setup a proposal and see what happens!
Keep transparent and honest: Working from home has its advantages but also its drawbacks. It’s easy to lose touch with your office and to even “hide” behind the technology. Keep your instant messenger on during your regular hours, and also give your manager frequent status updates so they don’t have to chase you down and inquire what you’re working on.
Keep to your work: Don’t abuse the privilege of working from home by going to the mall or out for a game of golf. Your company is paying you for a reason; company time is for company business. If you need to take care of some personal business then let your manager know. Most managers neither have time for nor care to micro-manage. But if you’re offline for long stretches on end then they will start to wonder what’s up.
Take breaks: The office day is often punctuated by social chatter and the occasional water-cooler conversation. Working from home may seem like a nice advantage, but some folks will have trouble adjusting to the sense of isolation that comes with remote work. Take some time to get up and stretch your legs. Try to step outside and get some fresh air by taking a short walk in the park or around your neighborhood. This will provide a chance to clear your head and you’ll feel much better as a result.