If there’s one bright spot in this otherwise dismal year, it’s the increased favorability of many companies toward telework. As someone who has successfully worked remotely for many years, I can say it’s about time. It’s taken a pandemic to force many businesses to see the benefits of allowing employees to work from home, which include increased productivity, less overhead (office space), and less sick time. Not to mention the benefits for employees, such as better work/life balance, less office politics, and fewer distractions.
So, how do you ensure you’re making the most of your flexible work situation? No surprise here – communication! Some bosses are still stuck in the mindset that work-from-home means lying on the couch, eating bon bons and binging Netflix. Change their minds by staying engaged, visible and relevant.
- Ensure you get and set clear expectations for yourself and your team, and that you regularly touchbase to see how you’re tracking toward goals.
- Define your work hours, wisely manage your time, and make sure you’re available when you say you’ll be.
- Stay connected and be innovative. One of the most common rebuttals you’ll hear from the anti-remote crowd is that teleworkers miss out on the watercooler chit chat and spontaneous brainstorming that happens in the office. Use the tools at your disposal – such as Slack, Zoom, or the old school phone call – to stay connected with your teammates. It doesn’t always need to be a formal meeting. Make the watercooler virtual with a brown bag Zoom lunch.
- Be proactive. While you don’t want to micromanage, if you’re a leader, make sure you are regularly connecting with your team through daily or weekly huddles. Ask your boss for a regularly-scheduled one-on-one touchbase, and go into those meetings prepared with updates and questions.
- Don’t read intent into email. I can’t stress this enough, because I’ve seen it so many times. Someone gets bent out of shape and replies angrily and in haste to an email, which launches a whole thread that clogs up your inbox. Stop the madness and pick up the phone. Chances are, the sender probably didn’t intend the email in the tone that you read it. Be clear and concise in your own communications to lessen the chance of misinterpretation.
- Take care of yourself. It can be all too easy to say you’re just going to peek at emails at 7am, and not come up for air until after 6p. Take lunch breaks, get up and walk outside. Be mindful of your mental and physical well-being. Get the work done, but don’t feel guilty for taking time when you need it.
Work-from-home is just that: work. By keeping the lines of communication open, and proving your productivity to your supervisor and team, you’ll help change minds and open up more telework opportunities across industries.
Being isolated doesn’t mean we can’t stay connected. And you don’t have to jump on a plane or shake someone’s hand to make an impact..”Chris Westfall, Forbes