From time to time situations may call for working remotely, but working remotely comes with its own challenges — on both the remote worker and the in-office workforce. Here are some suggestions for helping this to be a positive experience for all.
1. Hyper Communicate
First and foremost, when working remotely, be hyper-communicative. This communication helps people to understand if you are there or not. The assumption may be that you aren’t actually working on things--and that is probably not the message you want to send!
- Update your calendar to reflect your remote status — but that you are still available.
- Remind people on your team chat systems that you are remote but available.
Update your team chat system status (in this example slack) to show you are working remotely:
/status :house: Working Remote
If you leave, make sure to tell everybody you are away! this is very important! Just a quick AFK message and an “I’m back!” is sufficient when you return. You could also set your status:
/status :clock1: afk ~ 1pm
If you want to do “heads down” work and not be bothered, let the team know with a quick message, and also set your slack status to “working.” An example msg:
I’m focusing on the bogo widget for the next two-three hours. Ping me if urgent, otherwise, I may be slow to respond.
And a status:
/status :working: Working on the bogo widget till 2pm
- Be responsive in chat -- answer questions quickly, or tell people you are working on something else and will get back to them in ~x minutes.
- Communicate with “thanks” and “good job” in slack. These are small messages you may say when in person, but when remote it helps to elevate visibility to you still being a part of the team.
If you are in a meeting, set your status in slack:
/status :phone: In meeting until 11
2. "Be" in meetings
This is not just come to meetings. This is asserting to be present and actively participate. A few helpful tools:
- Be early to all meetings! Do not miss any — if you have to miss, communicate it ahead of time.
- When in video meetings with remote workers, have everybody turn on their cameras — it helps everybody feel like they are together. If you have a messy room and don’t want to show it, spend time beforehand cleaning it up!
- If multiple people are in a meeting on one end, and one or two are in remotely — either use a fisheye lens to easily include everybody in the room in the shot or alternatively have everybody connect into the meeting on their own laptops so each face is shown equally.
- Don’t multi-task in a meeting! Keeping focused on the meeting shows you are really there. If you have to do something else, break away from the meeting and apologize.
3. Keep on top of your tasks
- Update tasks in your tracking system multiple times a day. Move tasks into “In Progress” and “Done” as you finish them up. Create new tasks for the shoulder-taps you are given and include time estimates.
- Have smaller increments for tasks, and record the work on each, to more easily show progress.
- This helps draw a clear definition of the scope of what you are doing.
Although these steps do require more work for interacting, the overall message being sent is significant. Your peers will see you as an actively engaged person! Let me know what you think! Do you have other suggestions?