Hybrid and remote working pose many of the same challenges to both employees and their bosses, albeit on the opposite side of the coin. One good example is equality. Employers strive to treat employees fairly and equitably. However, there is concern that less visible remote employees may be less likely to be promoted.
Research cited by BBC shows that employees who are working from home – regardless of their productivity – “lack facetime with colleagues and managers, which negatively impacts promotions, and ultimately may stall careers.” If you are a remote employee, read on for actionable tips on how you can stay visible, relevant, and succeed while working from home.
Remote work success is a two-way street between managers and employees
Creating successful working relationships and work outcomes is a two-way street – both employees and employers need to take ownership for fulfilling their responsibilities to each other. In the situation described by the BBC article above, a remote employee can help maintain visibility with their manager and peers while working from home by erring on the side of over-communicating, striving for transparency, turning their camera on during Zoom meetings, and (if possible) being available in person for key meetings, like a project kick-off, or a quarterly review with the boss.
If you have flexibility in planning your in-office time, you can be strategic in selecting which days you’ll be present, and avoid being impacted negatively by some of the issues unique to remote and hybrid working.
Here are some work from home tips for employees to consider as you strive for remote work success.
Understand some of your manager’s key remote work challenges
Chances are your boss is struggling just as much as you are with all of the workplace changes, and they could use your empathy just as much as you’d appreciate theirs.
“Managing a remote team is challenging for most people because it requires more communication, more forethought, more planning, and more emotional intelligence. And before this year, many managers had never done it before, and many have still received little training from their organization about how to do it well,” writes Morra Aarons-Mele in her Harvard Business Review article about hybrid work anxiety.
Key issues that are made more difficult by remote work include creating an inclusive environment, building trust between people, and keeping company culture intact. Consider how you can support your leader, team, and company in these areas.
Creating an inclusive working environment
Whilst employers are figuring out how to ensure all employees – whether remote or on-site – are visible and involved in meetings and projects, smart individuals who know themselves well should consider whether they’re personally more effective participating in the room or on Zoom and plan accordingly.
Building trust between teams, managers, and employees
Creating trust between teams, managers and employees is often made more difficult by remote working. Employees should keep this in mind, and use in-office time to bolster their accountability and relationships with their managers and coworkers. Strive to be there in person for key project meetings, department meetings, and 1:1 with your manager (and, for that matter, any direct reports you manage.)
If you aren’t able to go to the office, over-communication is key. It’s easy to misconstrue emails, and phone calls take away the ability to read body language. Ensure you communicate with managers often and clearly while you work from home to build trust.
Aarons-Mele also notes in her article mentioned earlier, to pay attention to how success in your job is measured. Clearly communicating project status, progress toward set goals, and business outcomes will aid your manager in those efforts, and also reinforce their trust and confidence in you as an employee.
Keeping company culture and working relationships
Maintaining culture and relationships between people is another worry for many leaders managing a remote team. Our advice: fight against allowing isolation to take over. Set a goal of having a one-on-one conversation (even if just to catch up) with a colleague each day. You’ll stay connected, and help others to do so as well.
Maintaining a similar meeting schedule to in-office work can be grounding and foster communication during so much upheaval. You’ll also find that you have to create some new habits and find new rhythms in this “new normal.”
“We have daily touchpoints, morning and afternoon, with team members who are working from home, and the structure and content of those meetings are energizing for all.”
– Engagement Multiplier Team Member
Assume your coworkers and managers are doing their best
This last piece of advice can be the most difficult to take on board, but it’s valuable advice for all facets of life. Instead of rushing to judgment, take a minute and assume positive intent. Challenge yourself to assume that the other person on your team is doing their best. Assume they have no ulterior motives. Refrain from reading unwritten or unsaid meaning into communications.
It can be hard to do, but when you make assuming positive intent your superpower and your standard practice, you will radiate positivity, clarity, and transparency to your peers and colleagues, and you’ll be rewarded with their trust, esteem, and cooperation.
More work from home tips from our team at Engagement Multiplier
Here are some additional work from home tips for employees that our team uses to stay energised, motivated, focused, and cohesive as a team while working remotely.
Build a consistent morning routine
In Charles Duhigg’s The Power of Habit, he found a correlation between making your bed and higher workplace productivity, a greater sense of well-being, and even stronger skills at sticking within a budget. Whether or not you make the bed religiously, what you do first thing in the morning can set you up for a positive, energised, successful day.
“Mornings are important. They set you up for how you’re going to feel for the rest of the day. I try to make time for activities that support my physical and mental health before the workday even begins. My morning routine looks like this:
- 7:00 am – Wake up and exercise!
- 7:45 am – Shower and get dressed in something professional, but comfortable. Nobody needs to be in a suit right now.
- 8:15 am – Breakfast
- 8:30 am – Play guitar
- 9:00 am – Start the work day!
Your routine may be different. Maybe you want to begin the day with ten minutes of meditation and writing down intentions. Maybe you find that you’re more productive if you make the bed before you do anything else, or tidy your work area. Whatever works for you. But, build it into a routine that sets you up for success.”
– Ashleigh Blumthal
Set up a specific work from home space
Many work from home tips include setting aside a specific place in your home that is your temporary “camp.” But, one of our EM employees takes that a step further by trying to set up their WFH station as close to their office desk as possible.
“It helps to have a dedicated workspace set up to match your office desk as closely as possible. I’ve found this helps me stay focused and in the ‘work’ mindset.”
But claiming your work from home space to get in your normal “work mindset” isn’t just about physical space, it’s also about designating work time from personal time, so you can focus on one end, and unwind on the other.
“When I’m working from home, work time and home time tend to blend, so I’ve been practicing creating ‘time boundaries’ around what is work time, what is break time, and what is home time. And, of course, dogs, spouses, laundry, and Amazon deliveries interrupt focus, but no more so than coworkers in the office.”
And, freeing mental space is also important, which one of our employees does by limiting news time.
“In the beginning, I structured my day around when the local and national news updates were going to be aired. I’d watch the clock knowing that, in a few minutes, I should turn on the TV to see what the government had to say — any updates or new insights. This was incredibly unhelpful and doesn’t put the mind at ease, nor does it allow you to easily focus on the task at hand. Now, we only turn on the news for a morning update at 7 a.m. or after work!”
Find a work from home schedule that fits your routine
“Sticking to a schedule and using the Ivy Lee method has been extremely helpful. I log onto my laptop about 15 minutes before the workday begins, write out the 6 things that have to get done, and then schedule short breaks to keep sane! Knowing what my priorities are before starting the day and adhering to a schedule keep me productive.”
– Alyson Doering, Business Engagement Manager
Stay active throughout the day and get creative with movement
Going from bed to kitchen to home office to couch isn’t enough exercise for anyone’s physical or mental wellness. Without our normal physical outlets, we’ve gotten a bit… creative.
“The amount of free streaming services to get your sweat on is incredible! But when you need to up the ante and add some resistance to your workout and don’t have weights… use what you’ve got.”
One of the easiest ways to get a little extra exercise in your day is by taking the occasional walking meeting. As long as your manager is okay with having your video off, or if the conversation is mostly you listening, dialing in from your phone and going for a walk during your meeting is a great way to break up the day and get your heart rate up.
Have an open mind about what you may learn during WFH
Working from home can make you see both work and home in a new light. Some of the surprises we’ve encountered so far…
“My biggest takeaway from all of this is that I produce way too much waste. Like running the dishwasher at least every other day for only two people, or having so much garbage and recycling.”
– Danica Wasser, Operations Manager
“Having both my husband and myself working from home now has been great, actually. We get to have lunch together and throw the ball for the dog. We get to talk about our days as they’re happening. We can make each other tea, and even more importantly, we can make each other laugh. And, it’s also been really weird (and cool) to overhear him in ‘work mode’ — which is a side I don’t normally get to see.”
If you value working remotely, the best way to ensure you’re able to do so is to play an active part in making it a success for you and your organisation. That includes recognising how you can make yourself “visible” and relevant to managers even while working from home.