Tips for a Successful Remote Job

Working remotely is a challenge. There’s a risk of out of sight, out of mind. What can you do to help make your remote job successful? Here are a few.

1. Set boundaries. If you were in the office, you wouldn’t be expected to be available after work hours in a non-emergency, right? So set your hours, and keep to them whenever possible. When I was in an office setting, I would get to work around 7:30 or 8, work through lunch and leave at 4:30 or 5. At home? On a normal day I still do that.

I’m salary, which means you get your stuff done, regardless of time, so obviously there are many days that I work more, and a few where I work less. I’m in non-profit world and have to account for at least 40 hours a week, regardless of last week or workload. However, that’s never been an issue.

2. Set boundaries. Just because you are at home doesn’t mean that you can do housework all day. When you are working, you are working, not doing dishes.

3. Take breaks. When you’re at the office, there are times when the entire department is sitting around talking about the Game of Thrones finale. This is when you can do housework. If you need to do laundry, take a break and start a load (be aware of proximity and volume though, you don’t want to give the impression that you are doing housework all day). Better yet, go for a walk.

4. Have a space that is dedicated to work only. This isn’t a tax thing anymore, but having a bright line between home office and home is good. Leave work stress in that room. I mean, you know, theoretically-I relaxed once in 1976, it didn’t take.

5. Communicate. Early and often. You’re missing the water cooler so you may not pick up on vibes around the office, there are ways to combat this. Most workplaces have instant messaging. Use it. Every day. Talk to people every day.

6. Be camera ready. This is the one I fail at the most. I’m always at least decent. A nice thing is that you can roll out of bed and you’re 20 feet from work, but for the love, at least wear pants. True story, last week I overslept for like the first time in years. I had an 8:00. Woke up at 8:19. Joined the call at 8:21. This is not ideal.

7. Be early. When possible, hop on meetings a few minutes early in case Skype is not working. That will give you time to regroup, let everyone know, and call in on your phone.

8. Be understanding. Especially if you are an early adopter. Meetings used to be a bunch of people in a room. Now your team has to navigate setting up a call in number, fiddle with the camera, if they use one, and share screens.

9. Make the most out of your time at the main office. If there’s a new person, I bring locally sourced stuff . I brought touristy souvenirs, beer, all sorts of stuff. If there’s a department who I’ve tussled with, I bring them food. Have lots and lots of meetings. Having difficulty with one person? Find out what they like and suborn them.

10. Know when to pick up the phone. If you were in the office, you could have a pickup meeting. But I can’t just wander over to their office to clarify. I use Skype a bunch every day. I have a three email rule. If you’re not where you need to be after three emails, pick up the phone. I don’t always follow my rule, but I should.

These are things that helped me as I navigated remote workspaces. Any other tips?

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