I work remotely from the Midwest. It's a great arrangement that enables me to work with a wonderful company, smart coworkers, and be in a location that meets my husband's current academic objectives.
With that being said, working remotely and working from home is a unique challenge. It requires self awareness and personal discipline. In fact, I've learned that I can't actually work from home. I often head out to a favorite cafe or the local library in order to better feed my focus, ideas, and productivity.
Working remotely is truly a discipline that requires attention and diligence to ensure that I am always maximizing my productivity, quality, and contributions. To me this means setting up a structure that is strict yet adaptable. It means taking the time to cultivate a success remote working relationship.
Open communication. I tend to lean towards over-communicating. I don't have the luxury of popping over to someone's desk to talk about a client or new project. However, I can pick up the phone, write up a detailed email, use IM, and ask questions when something isn't clear.
Set expectations. Whether its with yourself, your boss, or your coworkers, set expectations for everything. This way it's clear when you're working, what you're working on, and what you're responsible for. This clarity can minimize unnecessary confusion and misallocation of work.
Leverage structure. One of the biggest challenges to working remotely is setting up a system that enables me to effectively meet my many demands (from a distance). Setting a work structure that meets your needs is beyond valuable. For example, I keep track of everything and outline my workload daily.
Structure to me is also synonymous with consistency. Consistency is critical to my work, growth, and success. I've mentioned before how consistency can enable you to maximize your working time, but I mean it. Even if you're headed to a cafe and not an office setting up a routine helps you to achieve the items outlined above. You can better establish (and follow through on) communication, task and/or project expectations if you have already identified a work structure and set of systems for yourself.
Of all the tools I use, IM (instant messenager) is perhaps the most valuable to me in my current role. It enables me to feel and be connected with my company and colleagues as well as helps me to convey when I am available and not available. It also allows me to keep my work flowing efficiently by better enabling me to address simple questions, tasks or areas of concern quickly throughout my work day.
The bottom line, figure out your work style, the needs and preferences of your employer and coworkers, and what you are responsible for in between. Play with your systems and remember that any successful relationship takes time to develop especially when it's being developed from a distance.
If you work remotely what tips or suggestions do you have to offer? What has helped you establish a successful and solid relationship with your manager, coworkers, and clients while working from afar?
Image from Josh Bancroft