by Devin Morrissey
Remote work and flexible working arrangements are gaining traction in the mainstream workforce. Previously labelled unconventional or alternative, remote work arrangements are forcing businesses to reimagine what normal looks like and change the way teams are managed.
Unfortunately, not all businesses are providing programs of the same quality. In some environments, remote workers are considered lazy or are assumed to get less done due to their surroundings. In reality, productivity can actually increase, along with company profits, when workers go remote.
Despite numbers providing information to the contrary, distance workers may still face stigmas associated with working from home. If you’re facing the opportunity to start working remotely, make sure that your employer will treat you as the valued contributor that you are.
Remote Worker Tip #1: Track everything
While a healthy remote working relationship can’t rely on constantly checking in or proving yourself, it’s always a good idea to have a record of your work. Primarily, it allows you to show a quantitative value for the hours you spend working. This can be important if you suspect there’s any level of unfairness in your compensation versus those who physically report to the office.
If or when you leave your position and pursue other work, keeping a log of accomplishments or creating a portfolio will highlight transferable, stable skills. If you’re applying for another remote position, being able to demonstrate your worth as a distance employee will add leverage to any negotiations you may enter.
Remote Worker Tip #2: Utilize your position
As a remote worker, you have a unique vantage point on how the company works. Because you’re not physically present for water cooler chats or other face-to-face conversations, you’re able to find weaknesses in communication channels, as well as to streamline processes so that less clarification is needed. Use your perspective to make yourself invaluable. Offering suggestions that improve workplace efficiency can quickly endear you to your superiors.
You may be remote working from a different time zone. If this is the case, make sure you understand what the business priorities are and use the company’s normal downtime to your advantage. If there’s a looming deadline or a project that needs to be rushed, your different schedule may feel like extra hours that lets the company keep working around the clock.
The last-minute fixes and “after-hour” time you put in maybe just what you need to feel valued in your role. Keep an eye out for what work often gets neglected or left to the last minute. Then, make yourself an expert in that particular aspect of your job. By taking advantage of weaknesses you may be uniquely aware of, you can put yourself ahead.
Remote Worker Tip #3: Communicate, and then communicate more
For any of the above suggestions to work, you have to have effective communication strategies in place. If contact isn’t open, honest, and available, you’re probably being underutilized — at best. In order to do your job correctly and to the best of your ability, you need to be able to contact management or other team members for clarification, meetings and any necessary collaboration.
Utilizing messaging tools like Slack or Stride can circumvent the sluggishness of email. Additionally, having a way to attend team meetings, whether by conference call, video chat, or screen sharing, will keep you looped in to team decisions. Weekly, or even daily, conversations with your superiors should be put on the calendar to make sure you have all the resources you need to be successful as well as keep you on your boss’ radar.
Remote Worker Tip #4: Know your worth
Ultimately, you may be the perfect remote worker and a productive member of your team, but your management may not be ready to accept that. Companies are being forced to reconcile with “production over presence” as a new metric of employee worth. The shift to a scattered work base may be natural for some employers, but for others, it’s the last thing they want to adapt to.
It may require a little extra work to come to an arrangement that benefits both you and the company. The tips above can help manage the shift to remote working. At the end of the day, though, if the arrangement isn’t true to your worth as an employee, it may be time to seek employment where your contributions will be valued — whether you’re sitting in an office chair or on your couch. You too deserve to be happy at work!
Do you have experience as a remote worker? What remote worker tips have you learned that you want to pass on?