7 Insights on Effectively Working Remotely
April 21st 2016
Flexibility in the workplace: you asked for it and got it! Now what? Some tried and true tips from our staff to keep you engaged and productive…and making sure your boss and colleagues feel the same way.
Be honest with yourself about your working style. Pay attention to when you’re most productive and make a conscious effort to tackle your heftiest tasks then. Do you tend to bury yourself in work? Be sure to get outside for some fresh air and interaction with other humans every day. More the easily distracted and can’t sit still type? Be sure to commit chunks of time throughout the day to take care of the tasks that need attention.
The Virtual Water Cooler is Essential – i.e. make time for small talk
Relationships are important. They create a much more enjoyable workplace (virtually and IRL) and they also make it much easier to accomplish big things together. So, put the effort in to talk to your colleagues about their other projects and life outside of work.
Out of sight, out of mind is a cliché…and often the truth. Part of the responsibility that comes with working remotely is ensuring you’re on the same page with your colleagues and company. Things change quickly and you don’t want to be working off of last week’s intel. Be sure to stay in communication and provide value so you’re top of mind with everyone in each office. Be available and answer the phone when they call.
The Squawk Box is Awkward
Running meetings over the phone is tricky. Use Skype or FaceTime whenever possible. Make clear agendas and stick to them. Be upfront about how the meeting will run and go out of your way to involve everyone on the call to keep the crowd engaged and the meeting productive. One other trick: embrace that moment of silence. A ‘thinking moment’ is hard to interpret over the phone, but learn to live in those awkward silences. And, refer back to point number #2.
The Investment of Face-to-Face Time is Worth It
When you are in the same place as your colleagues, make the most of it. And, convince your boss or your accountant that it’s worth the time, trip and expenses to get you there.
Don’t Multi-Task on an Important Call
It’s easy to do, with your email and Slack channels lighting up right in front of you with no one there to see what you’re doing. But, it can get you in trouble quickly, as it only takes one quick email response to lose track of the conversation. Use the boring conference call time to make a cup of tea or get in some of your 10,000 steps a day.
And Now, a Word From Our Counterparts in the Office…
Be honest when something isn’t working. Is more face-to-face time necessary? Are the weekly calls pointless? Are the staff in the office confused about what the remote workers are doing? Having those conversations will help everyone’s success in the long run.
Get out of your pajamas. Don’t let the convenience breed laziness. A solid morning routine (gym, breakfast, news scan before a certain time, for example) is a good way to get in a productive groove.
By Laura Anderson
Laura re-joined the Mfa family after seven years with Target. As Executive Director of Strategy and Innovation, she brings her lifestyle marketing, Millennial communications, social media and content development expertise to Mfa’s diverse roster of partners, always tackling a challenge through the client’s point of view. Laura is proud to represent the Midwest, heading Mfa’s Milwaukee office.