Ask people what they think remote workers do all day, and many will say they picture us running personal errands and watching re-runs of our favorite shows.
And while it’s frustrating that people out there think this, it’s downright terrifying to think that some bosses feel the same way.
As a remote worker, it isn’t always easy to show that you’re productive and invested in your job, but it’s up to you to prove it to your boss—even if you are sitting on your couch instead of in a cubicle. If you think your boss may be questioning how you spend your work-from-home hours, here are some strategies to prove your productivity.
1. Be Reliable and Responsive
In an office, your boss can see, plain and clear, that you’re working away at your desk all day. But when you're at home, you can send the same message by being responsive and available online.
This means, be hyper-aware of your phone, email, and instant messages all throughout the day, and when you receive a request from your boss, respond as soon as possible. You don't have to drop everything and tackle his or her request right away, but do respond quickly with realistic timeframe of when that task will be complete. Many times a simple response—“I’ve received your email and this will be complete within the hour”—works great. Then, make sure you follow through on that deadline.
2. Keep Updates to a Minimum
That said, don’t go overboard on the communication front. While you may think a great way to show that you’re working is to constantly update your boss on what you’re doing and how projects are coming along—don’t do this. After all, your manager hired you to make decisions and get your work done, and if you’ve been given the green light to work remotely, you’re being trusted to manage your own time. Sending your boss hourly emails is unnecessary—and may even cause him or her to lose confidence in your ability to get the job done on your own.
Instead, meet with your boss periodically to ensure you have set clear expectations for your work, with hard deliverables and deadlines, and then follow through on them. Sure, occasionally updates are necessary, but in general, let the real work speak for itself.
3. Be Present When You Get Face Time
One of the easiest ways to impress your boss and co-workers is to be extra engaged when you do get a chance to interact with them—namely, on the phone or during video chat meetings.
While it’s tempting to multitask (check your email, respond to that IM) when you’re not in the same room with people, you’re better off focusing only on the meeting at hand. By paying attention, you’ll be able to ask questions, contribute ideas, and pick up on important bits of information—all things that help you show you’re an engaged member of the team.
Also, try to "arrive" to meetings a few minutes early, as it'll give you the chance to talk to take part in the organic conversations that typically take place in person. This is your chance to ask what your colleagues are working on and share updates on all the work you're doing, too.
4. Don’t Pick Up Extra Tasks Just to Create Visibility
Offering to help with extra projects might seem like a great idea—you’re so productive that you have time to take on tons of extra work! But, putting unnecessary tasks between you and your key goals may take away from your success. Best case scenario, you may get everything done, but it may not be your best work. Worst case, you won’t be able to finish everything, and your boss will begin to question your ability to see projects through.
Again, you’re being trusted to manage your time wisely, so be very selective about extra tasks and responsibilities you take on. If you really want to get involved with a project that’s outside the realm of your job, go for it, but talk to your boss about how you might adjust your workload to make room for it.
Proving your productivity when your boss can’t see you isn’t easy. But if you focus on set deliverables, make yourself available and present, and work to build a relationship with your boss and co-workers, no one will question your productivity or commitment to getting the job done.
TopicsCareer , Working From Home , Syndication , Working Remotely by Liz Presson , Getting Ahead , Career Advice , Freelancing , Communication
From revolutionizing the way large corporations communicate, to working as the founding employee of two successful digital media startups, Liz Presson teaches companies to use community building, both internally and externally, to reach their fullest potential. Working with such inspiring companies, in environments that almost never include cubicles, she also encourages workers to think outside the traditional office through her site WorkingRemote.ly.More from this Author