The transition to remote work has been a popular one for many working folks across the globe. Employees are afforded autonomy and the comfort of working from home.
However, not everything about working remote is positive. Several issues have come to the forefront. Be it either communication issues with managers and co-workers, feeling overworked, or feeling like there are no opportunities for career growth, people feel stuck. But, there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
Let’s dive into some strategies you could implement to fully maximize the remote work experience.
Remote work strategy guide
Communicating with your manager
One of the most important aspects of a job is having a great working relationship with your manager. Through this relationship, you could figure out how they like work to be done and they can learn about you and how you work.
Working remote can hurt this process. Instead of having in-person conversations in an office or at a desk, you are left with messaging, emailing, calling, or video chatting your manager.
Sometimes you can send a message to your manager and not get a quick response. Sometimes you don’t know where your manager is or what he/she is doing because you aren’t in an office setting. But there are ways you can build this relationship with your manager without even stepping into the office.
You can set up weekly meetings with your manager to communicate goals, questions, issues, or anything that is on your mind. Setting this weekly time and date guarantees you the opportunity to speak to your manager and even learn more about each other.
You could have one meeting set up on Monday to discuss any questions or concerns about the upcoming week and one meeting on Friday to discuss progress from the week. This option gives you flexibility as well. The weekly meeting could be a phone call, a video chat, or whatever method that works for the both of you.
Creating a strategy for the best way to reach out to you or your manager in case of an emergency. If you need to discuss a pressing deadline, something in a meeting you need help on, or a last-minute assignment, stress levels could be reduced if each of you know the best way to contact each other. If you have to guess where your manager is and you end up sending an email (when in reality your manager responds to text messages the fastest) that could cause many problems.
Communicating with your co-workers
Not only is having a great working relationship with your manager important but building relationships with your co-workers is essential too. Working remotely strips people of the opportunity to experience the office environment, but just because you are working remotely doesn’t mean this couldn’t work. Here are some options:
Much like the weekly meetings with your manager, it is key to set up weekly meetings with fellow co-workers that work in your team. It may seem like you’d have so many meetings throughout the week, but these meetings don’t have to be long.
Setting up weekly 15–20-minute meetings to talk with your co-workers, strategize, and review the weeks work could go a long way to building a cohesive team. If you can video chat, it gives a face to a name and allows you to see a smile rather than *person is typing* on your screen.
Utilizing whatever chat service your company has is key. Don’t be shy. Introduce yourself to people in your company or team, get contact information, and do your best to making yourself visible to your co-workers. You never know where a message could lead you.
Try and suggest or set up game days, lunches, or out-of-office events (if everyone lives in the same city). See if there are any team bonding activities already in place, and if not, suggest something like an online game everyone could play or even a day where everyone has lunch together virtually.
Another possibility (if everyone lives in the same city) is to schedule out-of-office events. Whether it’s a team dinner, going to a brewery, or any agreed-upon event, this could help make up for the lack of in-person interaction remote work takes away.
Separating work life from home life
Because you are working from home, there is the possibility that you will find yourself working more than you would in office. Eight-hour weekdays turn into 10-hour weekdays. Weekends get filled with work. What happens? You slowly feel yourself burning out.
Leaving work creates that boundary between work and home. Once you leave work, work stays at the office. Remote work can transform your bedroom or living room into an unending work environment. There is no place for you to relax. There are some things you could do to help yourself.
Work with your manager and team and set hours and routines for emails, instant messages, and phone calls. Setting the schedule at the forefront solidifies expectations for you, your team, and your manager.
If it is agreed that after 6 PM all communications get rolled over to the next day, it could prevent miscommunications and problems to arise. No one likes receiving a message at 7:00 pm in the middle of dinner about something work-related.
You also could discuss as a team or with your manager how the communication process would look like if there was an emergency or urgent task that needed to be done.
To further supplement the point above, set up your email/messaging to send automated responses after a certain time. Having these automated responses allows whoever is trying to reach out to you to know how to contact you and when you will get back to them. It also allows you to separate work from home.
Create a cool-down ritual once work is over. A cool-down ritual is a way that allows you to shut off your brain from work. Once you log off your computer, have things like dinner, workout, meditation, or walk scheduled so you could get out of the house.
You may feel like since you are working remotely, you could get overlooked. You may feel like there is no room for you to grow and your career becomes stagnant. That doesn’t need to happen. Here is what you can do.
Work on a passion project. A passion project is doing something you’re able to work on outside of work or if you have downtime during work. This could be a project you are passionate about, have an interest in, or a skill you want to gain. This can be done by taking advanced courses, getting a certificate, volunteering in the community, etc. This gives you more life/work experience that you could add to your resume.
Make yourself visible. As we discussed in building relationships with your co-workers, making yourself visible puts a face to a name. Instead of being just a name on a computer screen, making an effort to volunteer for special projects, visiting the office once a month (if possible), being in person for important meetings (if possible/you are able to do so), or even just making sure your camera is turned on for important meetings could go a long way in making a name for yourself.
Build your online profile. Being that you are home, you might find some downtime. During this downtime, you could have the opportunity to build your LinkedIn profile and edit your resume. Having time to update your profile, post, and comment on other people’s posts could allow you to gain traction in the professional online world.
The challenges remote work presents could look like a daunting task. However, it all comes down to effective communication with your managers and co-workers that could solve so many of your worries.
We are living in a crazy time and companies will most likely continue to optimize the remote work process. For those working from home, remember to always think about your health, find ways to make your days more efficient and less stressful, and believe in yourself.