How to Effectively Work Remotely

If you are one of the lucky few who have established a work-from-home situation with your employer, whether you are working remotely every day of the week or a few days a month, then congratulations- you have one of the most coveted working situations in Corporate America!  However, while working remotely has its obvious perks (slippers versus work shoes/heels… need we say more), this working situation also presents unique challenges as well.  It takes a distinct personality type, riddled with diligence, accountability, and impeccable organization skills, to make a remote working position successful.  Once you and your employer have established that you might have the personality type and appropriate position to make it work, what steps can you take to ensure you are as successful and productive as possible?

Here are our tips on how to effectively work remotely!

Establish clear expectations.
Prior to beginning your remote work, it is essential you and your boss discuss in specifics their expectations of you and your expectations of them.  If they expect you to be working 9 to 5 with immediate access to answering emails and phone calls at all times, then that must be known.  Perhaps they are more flexible with the hours you work, as long as you adhere to specific deadlines.  Either way, it is important that both yours and your boss’s expectations are in line with one another from the beginning.  Make sure you understand all of the tasks and projects on your plate, and when your boss expects them completed by.  It is difficult to meet and exceed expectations when you are uncertain what they are in the first place!

Maintain open lines of communication.
Since you are not physically in the office to stay in the loop and to meet with your colleagues and superiors on specific initiatives, it has never been more important to brush up on your communication skills and make sure you have a clear communication plan in place.  Make sure to keep up with your emails.  Since coworkers can’t just drop by your desk to pass on information, this is likely the method they will use to reach out to you with the occassional question.  Make sure you are answering them in a timely fashion.  Schedule regular calls or conference calls with your coworkers and bosses to touch base and discuss progress on projects you are working on.  Be prepared to dish out your cell phone number or home land line so coworkers and clients have a constant line to reach you at.  If you still work some days in the office and have a phone line at your business, make sure calls are forwarded to your cell phone so when you are working remotely you are still able to catch calls and messages to that line.  Effective communication is essential in any working situation, but it is especially important to ensure you are available and responsive while working remotely.

Set yourself up for success with a distraction-free workplace.
As stated earlier, it takes a diligent and focused worker to effectively work remotely, as there are many tempting distractions that can take your focus off of your work.  While it might seem like an entertaining idea to try and write your sales reports in front of the television, you will fare much better if you establish a space in your home dedicated to work and work alone.  A quiet office with access to all of your work supplies will keep you focused on the tasks at hand.  If you still find yourself occasionally distracted while working at home, try relocating for the afternoon to a local coffee shop or the library.  Sometimes removing yourself from an environment with distractions (loads of laundry to wash, a comfy couch to sink into, etc.) will refocus you on your objectives.

Make sure you have set up the proper technology to execute your job and stay connected.
Nothing will foil your remote working plans quite like not being technically set up to do your job.  If your job requires you to print, fax, and scan frequently, make sure your at-home office has these supplies.  Make sure you have high speed Internet to support your tasks.  If you will need to teleconference in for meetings, make sure you have a land line or dependable enough cell reception so the calls aren’t dropped.  If you are required to Skype in or video conference, make sure you have a proper webcam.  Work with your IT department to ensure you are all set up on the company’s network or VPN so you have access to all of the necessary programs and files.  Since you are not physically at the office, it is important you bring the elements of the office necessary for your job to you.

Remain mindful of your deadlines and producing quality products.
Since you are not physically under your boss’s nose, your only justification for what you have accomplished each day are your results.  Of course this goes without saying whether you work inside or outside the office, but make sure your finished products are completed to the best of your abilities to demonstrate your capability to produce high quality work no matter where you are located.  If you and your boss have established deadlines during your discussion of expectations, make sure you adhere strictly to those deadlines.  If you are working in an office and have been swamped, it might be easier to go to your boss to request an extension since they have seen firsthand what you have been up to; trying your hardest to stay on schedule with your deadlines is the surest way to proove to your boss that you have remained productive while working remotely.

To obtain a remote working position, you have to be a hard working individual who has already demonstrated to their superiors that they can be entrusted to perform their job without being watched every hour of the day.  Simply maintain the communication skills and diligence that have helped land you this position in the first place throughout your remote assignment, and you will undoubtedly see heightened productivity and success!

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