In 2010 I started working for sr4 Partners as a full-time employee. Three years later I moved from Illinois to Kansas and started working for the company remotely. It was important to me to remain a contributing member of the team – but to do so, I needed to learn a whole new set of skills. Here are my five best practices for working remotely…
1. Stay Connected
It is easy in today’s world to feel like you’re “in the loop” with email and social media, but staying truly connected while working remotely takes more than that. Find out what type of communication works best for your team or clients and take advantage of those channels. Phone calls, video conferencing, texting, emails, internal messaging systems – the options are endless.
Once you’ve selected a way to communicate (everyone feels comfortable using, is reliable, etc.), then set a schedule. Having regular check-in opportunities helps the team stay connected, but it also holds people accountable and allows for consistent communication.
Last, depending on the team you’re working with, it might be helpful to set some boundaries. Some people love working 24/7. Some people need a chance to disconnect and recharge in order to be productive. Have conversations with your team about what works best for everyone.
2. Be Organized
Staying organized on an individual level and as a team is very important when working remotely. You definitely don’t want to be “that guy” who is wreaking havoc on the company’s file sharing system.
Again, have a conversation with your team about how to store and share files. Discuss how things like expense reports and time tracking will work and make sure everyone has access and feels comfortable using these systems. There are lots of tools out there to help you stay organized – be high-tech and download some apps, or kick-it old school with to-do lists. Your calendar should be your best friend.
3. Manage Your Energy (not your time)
Having a flexible work schedule can be a blessing or a curse. You can often decide when to get your work done and it doesn’t necessarily have to be within the 9-to-5 timeframe. But, with great flexibility comes great responsibility. Remember – you are working! It’s hard to be productive if you’re still in your workout clothes… or your pajamas!
Whether you’re an early bird or a night owl, be open and honest with your team about when you are planning to hunker down and get things done or when you’ll be working or online.
4. Get the Best
This goes along with #3 – make sure you are sharing the best version of yourself with your teammates, clients and co-workers. Know your strengths and weaknesses and verbalize those with the people you work closely with.
We don’t mean ‘hustle’ in the way your elementary school gym teacher did – we mean this more like the way Urban Dictionary would describe it. Hus·tle, verb: a faster way to make money also known as the “come up”. When you are “hustling” you should be striving to make yourself invaluable to your company or clients.
Having an entrepreneurial spirit and going above and beyond to make things happen is an integral part of working remotely. No one is going to be checking in and making sure you’re staying on top of your workload – you need to do that on your own. Be determined, persistent and self-motivated.