4 Tips for Becoming a Great Remote Employee
Technological advances have changed the world of work. Today, people are accessible wherever, whenever. They can collaborate with others across the globe in real-time and can even send you an email from an airplane.
Because of technology, who we work for, who we work with, and how we get things done has evolved. More companies are embracing the option to hire a remote workforce, helping them find necessary talent that might not otherwise be available in their immediate area.
As an employee, remote work can have a ton of benefits if done right.
In my career, I’ve been lucky enough to work at two organizations (including my current role at Carbon Black) that have allowed me to work 100 percent remotely. These companies absolutely know how to do remote work right. There’s buy-in at all levels and there are things available to make it easier to work with others dispersed around the world.
To do this, these companies have great communication tools in place to help remote folks feel involved, even if we’re miles away. The level of collaboration is seamless thanks to these tools and the great teams who make an effort to stay connected.
Are you one of those individuals who currently works remotely or is considering taking this type of role? Even if a company is leveraging remote work, it’s still up to you to make the experience a positive one. Here are some tips to ensure you’re set up for success.
FIND YOUR GROOVE
Everyone is different. Some people need to shower and get dressed before they start their work day. Others are fine just rolling out of bed. Some like working from their home office, while others feel more productive in a traditional “office” setting. It’s about finding what works for you and your routine. If you like that office feel, make sure you look into co-working spaces in your local area.
In addition to your routine, it’s also important to understand the times you’re most productive for specific tasks. For example, maybe your mornings are best for working individually on projects, such as writing, reporting, responding to emails, and so on. Then, in the afternoon, you’re all about jumping on calls or webcams to collaborate.
Knowing what works best for you will improve how productive you are and your quality of work.
INVEST IN A GOOD SETUP
I’ll admit I was a little spoiled. Before I went remote at Carbon Black, I worked at the Waltham, Massachusetts headquarters. Not only did they provide great docking stations and quality headsets, but they also had sturdy, electric, standup desks. Thankfully, I was able to take headsets and docking stations with me but I’m sorely (quite literally, too) missing my standup desk. After about a week of a sore back, I decided to splurge and purchase my own.
In addition to that, I have hung up several whiteboards for planning and got myself a hotspot for when I’m on the road. The hotspot is one of my favorite purchases because it allows me to have more freedom without compromising connectivity.
Many of my coworkers rave about their different setups that make them feel the most comfortable and efficient. Some of their suggestions were to have a solid phone, especially if you use it heavily. Others suggested ergonomic chairs/yoga ball chairs. And, of course, they make sure they have a designated space where they can close themselves off from any noise from their family, roommates, or pets.
BE PRESENT & TAKE ADVANTAGE OF COMMUNICATION TOOLS
Communication is everything when you’re remote. Whenever I tell people I work remotely, I usually receive a response along the lines of: “Wow, I could never do that. Don’t you get lonely? That would drive me nuts.” I think they would be surprised to know how often I’m talking to people.
Sometimes I have more lengthy conversations and/or get to know people better while being remote than when I was in an office. In fact, I made a lot of good friends working for my previous company, WilsonHCG, just by communicating by webcam, email, IM, or social media. By the time I finally got to meet them nearly a year later, it felt like we had hung out a million times. That’s the power of these communication tools.
If you’re remote, take advantage of any and all of them. If you’re lucky, your company will also have an intranet as a forum that helps you stay connected to others who you might not normally interact with. It also allows you to stay current with what’s going on in the company.
To make it easier, you can see if your intranet allows you to set up daily emailed digests. I recently leveraged this option and it’s allowed me to have a lot more visibility with the going-ons at the company than I’ve ever had.
SHOW THOSE RESULTS!
This goes without saying. Don’t be afraid to over-communicate what you’re doing, where you’re at on a project, and the results. You don’t have to be physically present to do a good job, but you also shouldn’t assume that people know what you’re doing.
It’s important to keep everyone in the loop. One of my favorite project management tools is Trello. You can even include other members of your team to your “board” so they can work on projects with you easier and also see your updates.
I absolutely love working remotely. It’s when I’m the most productive, but that’s only because I’ve found a way to make it work for me and I’ve worked at great companies that do it well.
If you’re considering taking a remote job, don’t worry! It takes a little bit to get used to, but once you find your sweet spot you may be surprised at how much better it could be.