7 Tips on Working Remotely That You Won’t Find in a Company Policy

By Dennis Casey

With business being more digital than ever, an increasing number of employees are seeking full time work-from-home opportunities. Whether you moved from an office-based employee to a remote employee within an organization or were hired to work remotely from day one, there are a few unwritten rules that can help make the experience as positive and productive as possible. Keep these 7 tips in mind to make the most of your remote journey:

Tip #1

Keep in mind that every remote employee is viewed skeptically by their manager (at first).

Ouch. It may sting a little, but it’s the truth. When you transition to a work-from-home setting, your manager’s natural fear of the unknown, as well as the need to build trust, will loom overhead for the first month or so. Will you hold up your end of the bargain and actually work as expected? Will there be a drop in productivity? Until there’s a track record of trust established, it’s crucial to make sure you’re abiding by the remote guidelines and expectations that may have been established, while going above and beyond to prove working from home won’t distract from ongoing projects and deadlines.

The good news? A solid remote employee will build this trust quickly and painlessly, allowing all parties to continue working effectively together without interruption.

Tip #2

Be available.

Whether your company primarily connects via chat, email, video conference or phone, it’s your responsibility to be easily accessible during working hours. Nothing is worse for in-office employees or management than a remote worker who is unreachable or takes forever to reply to an email. That’s not to say you’re chained to your desk, but being transparent about your schedule, meeting deadlines, joining meetings on time and responding promptly to emails and chats goes a long way when you’re not face-to-face with your colleagues.

Heading out to lunch? Put a quick away message up on Slack. Going on vacation? Remind key team members a few times in the weeks leading up to your PTO. But whatever you do, don’t go silent – that’s the fastest way to lose trust and credibility, which could damage relationships or jeopardize your remote privileges.

Tip #3

Speak up.

Communication is a two-way street. If you’re feeling forgotten or in the dark on initiatives you should be included in, it’s your responsibility to speak up and make it known so issues can be addressed appropriately. All too often, remote workers fume over being left out but never vocalize their concerns, causing them to stew and become less engaged over time. Meanwhile, the rest of their team office-side have no way of knowing they have something to correct. But keeping the lines of communication open makes a world of difference. Avoid unnecessary confusion or resentment by frequently connecting with your team over video chat, inserting yourself in projects you’re interesting in, participating in team chat rooms or company social feeds and checking in regularly with your boss. The effort will not go unnoticed!

Tip #4

Don’t take advantage of your remote situation.

Working remotely does not give you a free pass to do house work, wash your car, run your own daycare or skimp on responsibilities. Not staying focused during working hours will ultimately result in being unavailable (see tip #2) and leads to potentially irreversible trust issues within teams (see tip #1). A lack of focus can also build animosity amongst office-based team members who do not have the same flexibility and puts management in the awkward position to have to add additional checks and balances into their oversight to “catch” any future abuses, leading to a bad working relationship for everyone involved. Working from home is a privilege – don’t abuse it.

Tip #5

Don’t take offense to business changes that can lag in being communicated.

This tip mostly applies to smaller, fast-growing companies where the timing of change typically can’t be predicted and often happens rapidly with little or no notice. In these instances, most organizational changes impact employees company-wide. However, rapid changes first ripple through the office, then extend out to remote staff, resulting in a bit of lag time that can leave remote workers feeling disconnected.

During times of change, it’s easy to feel caught off guard since you don’t have the ability to read the office’s energy or participate in key side conversations that lead to change. Unfortunately, changes need to be absorbed, then communicated – and that process is not instantaneous. If solid lines of regular communication are in place, this process should still run fairly smoothly. If not see tip #3.

Tip #6

Choose your words carefully.

In the age of texts and instant messages, we’ve become accustomed to instant gratification when communicating, both professionally and personally. At Canpango, Google Chat is far and away the main form of internal communication. But when you work from home, reading situations can be more difficult than in a face-to-face interaction, so it’s critical to communicate appropriately until you know the full story.

For remote employees, even a casual chat between meetings is conducted in written word, which holds more permanency over an in-person conversation. You can’t always infer tone or intent digitally, making it more difficult to understand sentiment at times. If you’re questioning sentiment in a digital communication, be sure you have a clear read on the matter before responding in order to properly voice your opinion, concern or thought. Hopping on a quick call or video conference is a great way to avoid miscommunications or misreads, allowing you to match facial expressions to tone and inflection. Suddenly, a comment that may have come off strangely through chat can turn into a warm exchange.

Tip #7

Acknowledge that you’re giving up some aspects of employment that mostly pertain to office-based staff.

Even in the perfect remote scenario with great two-way communication and mutual trust, you cannot totally replicate being in an office setting. Unfortunately, things like office lunches, happy hours, team building competitions and other social gatherings – not to mention impromptu kitchen conversations or foosball tournaments – just cannot be properly replicated remotely. To successfully work from home, you’ve got to be ok with that. The flexibility you have being remote should more than cover some of these unreplicable office-based events. Plus, you can always make a point to get into the office a few times a year to make sure you don’t miss out on all the fun.

Working remotely can be as challenging as it is rewarding. After all, staying motivated and engaged on a daily basis without the benefit of in-person interactions is tough. But with the right mindset and a supportive company culture, working from home is a serious perk. Looking for more insight? Contact our expert consulting team today!

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