Managing Your Career in a Remote Environment
You’ve probably been working from home for a couple of months now. Whether you’re managing a team, running your business solo, or reporting to a boss, it’s likely that you’ve encountered a few obstacles while adapting to your remote work environment.
While a traditional work-from-home environment has a number of benefits — like less stress, according to a FlexJobs survey — there’s a huge difference between the “typical” environment and most individuals’ current situation.
Schools and summer camps aren’t operating, meaning that those with children are juggling parenting, teaching, and working. Coffee shops aren’t open to give you a change of scenery, and for those with roommates or partners, there’s the debate over who takes the desk and who works from the kitchen table.
Not to mention, there’s a global pandemic and a racial equality movement that are likely impacting your focus and mental health.
With these complexities, your current work-from-home conditions are likely not the most conducive to productivity, which can have an impact on your career. Here are some tips to help you manage your career while working remotely during a crisis so that you can continue to achieve your career goals. We’ve also got some great tips on remaining productive in a remote environment that you can check out here.
Keep a Schedule
It’s crucial to lay out a schedule for when you’re working and when you’re done — and to stick to it! Establishing a structured routine will help you be more efficient during work hours and mentally shut off when the day is over.
There’s nothing to break up your workday the way that office interactions do, so make sure to schedule time for breaks. If you have the flexibility to choose your work hours, you don’t need to stick to a typical 9–5 — work when you’re at your most productive — but don’t continue to work outside of your designated working hours.
Communication gets more and more essential the less you’re able to interact directly with your teammates. Make sure you communicate your asks and achievements clearly to those you work with.
Unlike when you’re in an office, those in your team can’t see when you’re working, what you’re working on, or when you’re late to a meeting because another meeting went long. Share these aspects of your day with them to make sure that everyone’s on the same page.
Use technology to talk with your team. Aside from the fact that it will make communicating about work easier, not visiting an office takes away many of the social elements of working. Instant messaging and video conferencing apps can help you keep in touch with your coworkers while everyone’s working from home.
Additionally, check in on your team often — not in a micromanagement way but in a “we’re all humans trying to navigate through a pandemic” way. Make sure that they know that you’re someone they can reach out to if they need to chat, and don’t be afraid to reach out to others if you’re having a hard time, either.
Notice someone doing an outstanding job? Let the team know that they’re going above and beyond. This allows your team members to know their hard work is appreciated. Additionally, it opens the door for others to share this type of feedback, which will create a great culture of gratitude and recognizing achievements.
Find Ways to Contribute
Speaking up in meetings is much easier when you’re there in person, but don’t let that deter you from sharing your thoughts and ideas in a virtual context. Make a conscious effort to actively participate in the meetings you’re in.
Start scheduling one-on-one chats with your coworkers. Because you don’t have the ease of sharing ideas over a morning coffee run, you’re missing out on those collaboration opportunities. Even if you start these informal meetings with the intention of catching up, you’re likely to come across ways you can join forces on a new or existing project.
You may need to revisit your plans for the year and shift projects around when necessary. Be as understanding of yourself as you are with your teammates. Manage your expectations of what you can accomplish as well as what you need from others.
Given the state of the world right now, be extra empathetic with yourself and those you work with. It may take a while to find a groove when it comes to remote work, so don’t be afraid to adjust your timelines accordingly.
When possible, make productivity measurable so you can identify when you or those you manage are reaching goals, rather than feeling the need to monitor activities.
Track Your Progress
As you pivot to creating more measurable goals, keep track of your progress on projects as well. Keep a to-do list handy so you always know the tasks you need to complete each day, and compile a master list of all the things you feel proud of that you’re working on or have completed along with metrics to go with them. Identifying the accomplishments and projects that have been important to you can help keep you motivated, and the list can help you long term when you’re up for a promotion or updating your resume.
Know that things will not go as planned. There will likely be times where you’re not very productive, and there will likely be times when the happenings of the world affect you more than other days. If you have kids or a spouse or a pet, there are plenty of inevitable situations that will arise that will cause you to be distracted. Be flexible with yourself in these circumstances.
Keep this in mind when you’re interacting with your team, as well. Everyone is dealing with a lot right now, so try to be as understanding as possible.
Learn a New Skill
Most of us do have quite a bit more time on our hands. You can use this newfound time to learn a skill tangentially related to your profession. There are tons of online sites that offer remote learning opportunities. IAW members get access to STAR12 with their paid membership.
Once you’ve completed a course or mastered a new skill, seek out opportunities to use it. Look outside of your immediate team and consider ways you can offer your expertise to other teams, or pitch a new project that you can take on.
Maintain a Work–Life Balance
Throughout the workday, you should be making time for yourself. Take a walk when you need to, schedule time to eat lunch, and get up and step away from your desk from time to time. Have clear bookends to your day, as well. Spend the time you would normally use for commuting to do something for yourself. Read a book, exercise, listen to music — whatever you feel will help you maintain a work–life balance.
Though many of us have been working from home for a couple of months, that doesn’t mean it feels ordinary. Take it day by day, and know that you’re not alone. If you’re looking for more ways to adjust to the new normal, check out our webinar recap about how to stay motivated during trying times.