Since starting at PSI, I have been a remote worker, working full-time about 1,100 miles from PSI’s corporate headquarters in Glendale, CA. I love my job, company, and team, but I do find working from home both rewarding and challenging.
A few months back, people were suddenly thrust into a remote world due to COVID-19, and now it seems that many of us have become well-acclimated to our remote setups. For the foreseeable future, remote work may not just be the temporary solution we originally expected, but rather a more permanent actuality in many organizations. So, as we begin to realize that this may be normal moving forward, it’s important to plan with success in mind.
Because remote working holds its own challenges by its very nature, organizations have to ensure that employees continue to feel heard and feel visible to avoid sliding behind the inevitable remote work curtain. Successful remote work requires consistent effort, so I will share six practical tips that can help remote workers continue to feel visible and effective from afar.
#1: Be clear, seek clarity, and communicate frequently.
Communicating clearly up front by asking clarifying questions, noting deadlines and details, and frankly, getting as much information as you can is crucial when working remotely, as it can be more challenging to connect with others when you’re not sitting three cubes down from them. Be sure to keep the lines of communication open and continue to communicate frequently as projects progress and deadlines approach. Communicating frequently and sharing your ideas with others will also help you gain visibility in your organization.
#2: Use the available technologies to your fullest advantage.
Most organizations with remote employees offer lots of communication options so that you can engage in frequent and discreet communication with co-workers. Leveraging technology appropriately will help employees be both visible and effective. When working remote, be sure to ask your manager or IT department about any available technology options that can help you communicate, whether that is an instant messaging platform, project management software, sharing platforms (like Google Drive or OneDrive), or webinar platforms. Know what is available to you and spend time learning how to use these platforms so that you can effectively communicate with your coworkers from afar. If you don’t know how to use a certain system or tool, search YouTube or ask your colleagues for help.
#3: Figure out where and how you work best.
When working remotely, there are several options for physical spaces that you can work from, mainly those in your home. You may have settled into one that works for you. For example, you may have an intentionally crafted office space that mirrors your space in the office and physically separates you from feeling like you’re at home, while others don’t mind working from their kitchen tables or couch. Some spaces tend to have more background noise that may be distracting, such as children or a mounting pile of dirty laundry. I have tried many spaces in my own home and honestly prefer working from home, as I feel like I can get up and take walks, make my lunch, turn on the dryer, and attend to my cats when needed.
#4: Step away from it all occasionally.
Just like when you’re working in the office, it’s critical to take breaks from your work when you’re working remotely. This sounds easy, but it can be a challenge to disconnect when your office is next to your bedroom and you keep hearing that “ding” of a new email in your inbox. What works best for me is to shut the door to my office and go into another room to take a lunch or other break. I find it necessary to give my eyes and brain a good midday rest, and I generally come back refreshed after doing so, ready to crank out a few more hours of work. And while we should be staying away from public spaces like coffee shops and restaurants, if the weather is good, a stroll outside or other outdoor activity at lunchtime works well.
#5: Focus on why working remotely works well for you (vs. why it doesn’t).
While there are numerous perks to working from home, loneliness and boredom continue to creep in from time to time. When this happens, I like to take a moment to reflect on the positive aspects of my situation (less commute time, more time at home with family, flexible hours, etc.) and re-center. Sometimes taking a small break to enjoy the weather helps here as well.
#6: Don’t be all business. Have some fun!
While connecting with your co-workers is definitely a bigger challenge when you don’t physically see them on a regular basis, there are plenty of creative ways to learn more about the people you work with over the phone or online. For example, you can kick calls off with a fun “icebreaker” question for those on the line, or even just simply ask about how their kids are doing or what they did over the weekend. One fun thing that PSI does to engage all employees is step challenges. This is a fun way to team up with a small group of co-workers virtually to get the most steps. I always try to participate in activities like this to get to know my colleagues better and stay engaged!
I hope these tips provide you with some practical steps you can incorporate into your remote working routine so you can continue to be successful as we move into a more substantially remote world.