While some companies might feel forced to make the transition to remote work recently, flexible work options have an increasingly high priority item for many organizations over the last few years. In fact, many employees say they would choose a lower salary (or decline a pay increase) if they could work from home a few times per week. However, companies are still concerned about how their employees can work remotely productively.
Those who are new to remote work might feel a decline in productivity at first; but, after the initial adjustment period find, many develop better communication and time management skills as a result of their new work environment.
Remember – You’re Still Working
When you first start working remotely, you might be tempted to turn on the TV or wash a few loads of laundry. But the first step towards working remotely productively is remembering you’re still working even if you’re not physically going to an office.
That means if you weren’t able to get through all your laundry while you were at the office, you shouldn’t be doing it during the workday. You simply won’t be productive if you focus on housework instead of your “day job.”
Get Comfortable with Video
In order to communicate effectively with a remote team, you’ll need to get acclimated to frequent video calls. Using modern technology like Zoom, WebEx, or Teams, it’s very simple to hop on a video call and ensure your meaning is clear through facial expressions and tone of voice. When you’re only messaging through text or email, information and context can be lost or assumed.
If you’re a contractor who rarely goes into the office, a video call helps your team remember who you are and keeps you at the front of their minds even when you’re not around physically.
Don’t Be Afraid to Overcommunicate
Remote workers often find themselves becoming better communicators overall when they can’t depend on in-office chats. While “over-communication” sounds negative, it’s the key to effective teamwork outside the office.
Ask for what you need – whether that’s more feedback on a project, a deadline extension, or simply more information from a coworker. Don’t assume the person on the other end of the email knows what you want if you don’t directly ask. Using bullet points to summarize your needs will help your team respond quickly.
Don’t be afraid to virtually chat with teammates if you need a quick answer, but sometimes you need to pick up the phone and talk through a problem. You may feel like you’re talking too much early on, but eventually you’ll be able to “read” your coworkers better online and build a routine of effective communication.
Set Clear Expectations
The danger of remote work is the “always on” culture that happens when your home becomes your office. With clear expectations, you can gain some freedom from work to encourage creativity and prevent burnout while still continuing to work remotely productively.
Hours Online vs. Offline
Talk to your team about appropriate online hours. If they only work 9-5, then you should not be expected to work beyond that. If you have caregiving commitments and need to be offline by a certain time, let them know if you’ll be back online later to respond to emails.
Once you’re offline, turn off email notifications and relax as if you’re driving home (except you have extra time now because you’re not commuting!). But when you’re online, be ready to answer the phone and respond to chats. Once you set these expectations, you need to be as available as you would be on-site.
Ask for clear deadlines on your projects, so your manager knows what to expect and when to expect it. These due dates also help you manage your to-do list so you’re not just reacting to emails and chats as they come in.
You might find you accomplish more when you don’t have coworkers and commuting to distract you. Don’t be hesitate to prove your value by hitting those deadlines early.
If your team is new to telecommuting, you might need to have daily check-ins. This can help everyone become adjusted to a new style of productivity. But with clear deadlines and overcommunication, you should be able to reduce team meetings to weekly to check on project progress, and possibly another one-on-one meeting with your manager weekly for any specific requests.
Stay Positive and Settle in to Work Remotely Productively
Adjusting to remote work can lead to loneliness without your 2pm trip to the coffee shop with coworkers or mid-morning water cooler chat about your weekends. But keep the positive side in mind–more time for personal interests, lowered costs of car maintenance, opportunity to work while traveling, and more time for your outside-of-work friends– and you’ll become more comfortable on your own.
Remote work is the future of how we’ll work – ultimately reducing air pollution caused by commuting and reducing costs for a company through smaller office space. To find your next remote full-time or contractor position, contact one of our hiring experts to place you in your dream job from the comfort of your home. Connect with us today to get started.