We have finally come to the point we can say, “I’m going to be working from home” and be confident that everybody believes it. Working from home just isn’t the big deal that it used to be even five years ago. It is perfectly natural for business owners and others who require a high degree of time flexibility to work almost 100 percent remotely. Others have adopted remote work so they can build a lifestyle that caters to their particular desires. But, regardless of why people work remotely, they are still at risk of a business failure or losing their jobs if they fall victim to some common pitfalls. Here are some tips and tricks to stay on track:
Before any work begins, be sure to outline everything you will be doing, how you will report progress, define how you can be reached, when you can be reached…everything. Because it’s going to be a double standard. If you can’t be reached in the office, there’s an explanation. If you can’t be reached at your home office, you’re taking a nap. I have likened it to setting down the rules of incorporation because you are defining in as crystal clear a manner as possible “the rules.” Once the rules are defined and agreed upon, all you have to do is toe the line. Again, it’s a double standard. Without your physical presence and a strict adherence to the agreed upon system, a manager or client could very well start talking trash about you. Hope is not a strategy.
The great killer of the remote work dream is ambiguity or uncertainty. We know the big difference between working in an office with others and at home is nobody can walk over to your desk to make sure you’re not taking an afternoon snooze. Today, with management being held to more difficult goals, it isn’t hard to understand why the first thing a remote worker’s boss wants to know is what they are doing. People who work remotely must remove any shadow of doubt by showing that they are fully engaged. Every phone call, email or conference is a chance to contribute, collaborate and produce. Get in extra communication outside of meetings if you feel it builds trust. Do your best to keep a finger on the pulse of what’s going on at the office or at your client’s office.
Hit goals and metrics, on deadline
There isn’t much to say here. Produce work or deliverables that are higher quality than expected, on time and don’t cause delays. Plan ahead to avoid getting blindsided. You need to be making projects shine and producing solid work. And by the way, nobody will care if somebody else goofed up and left you holding the bag. Again, not necessarily fair but part of the remote work dance.
Don’t get lazy
I know a musician who told me one time, “Many times, you won’t hear a musician make a silly mistake during a really tough part of the piece. You’ll hear it two or three beats after the hard part. What happened? The player was so relieved they got through the hard part, they let their concentration down and missed the easy stuff.”
Let’s say you’ve navigated all of the rough seas above and have built a great reputation as someone who is a really valuable asset. The easiest thing in the world to do is to listen to the little voice that whispers, “You deserve this.” Because that little voice is laziness and laziness is the beginning of the end. Like everything, doing something well once isn’t too bad. Doing it over and over when nobody is looking is the mark of a professional. Putting all of the above into practice, bringing your special skill set to the party and producing consistently is pure gold. And while it is great in an in office situation, it’s what makes you flourish in a remote gig.