Everything changes when the boss isn’t just down the hallway. With corporate teams now spread all over the place working from home, it is more important than ever to ensure that you are checking in with your manager on a regular basis. Keeping the big guy or gal happy is vital–particularly right now during the C-19 crisis, with so much of these working arrangements new to so many people. Everyone is scrambling to keep operations as normal as possible in these extraordinary times. Do your part to be a solution, not a problem.
The biggest responsibility you have is, well, being responsible. Although many are working from home out of sheer necessity at the moment, remember that remote working involves trust. It’s a privilege. So start by establishing your hours of availability. Let your supervisor know when and how you are working. Maybe this will just mirror office hours. Maybe this will involve a switch to deadlines and focused work that is not as heavily linked to a 9-5 schedule. Just be sure that you are all on the same page here.
Remember that you are still working as part of a team. In addition to completing tasks, whether on deadline or as part of regular office hours, you need to be there for your fellow workers. When you are all in an office together working a set schedule, this is as easy as walking down the hall or picking up the phone. When you are all at home, you need to pay more attention to messages and organize communications. You don’t want to be the guy who leaves people hanging for hours or even days on answers to questions, requests for a resource, and so forth.
With that said, you also have to establish some boundaries with the boss. One of the big potential pitfalls of working from home is trading in the old 9-5 for a 24-7 where you are expected to be available around the clock. If you are working from home for the first time, be sure to talk all of this out with your supervisor. Working times and responsibilities need to be clarified to everyone. Otherwise, things will go off the rails.
Keep things personable whenever possible. Working from home makes it easier to compartmentalize and separate the two worlds of life and workplace. This isn’t necessarily a good thing, as out of sight can be out of mind. Remain visible as a person, especially to your superiors. Don’t just fade into the background as the face on the occasional video call and the name on emails. Your career may well depend on it.
Go into the office whenever possible. Don’t head in unnecessarily, especially right now given the C-19 restrictions in effect across much of North America. But don’t be a stranger. Stop over for in-person meetings, take somebody out to lunch, and so forth. Use virtual methods to maintain office relationships, too. Have video chats that are not strictly about work matters. Pick up the phone instead of sending emails. That sort of thing.
All of the above really breaks down to three simple words that you need to follow when working remotely: Don’t isolate yourself. That can be easier said than done during a pandemic lockdown, but it’s vital to make it clear that you are still a key member of the office team, even when that office may be at your home.