Working Remotely? Tips for Working Hard from Afar
Work + Life Balance

Working Remotely? Tips for Working Hard from Afar

WE'VE GOT TOP TIPS FOR WORKING SMART WHEN YOUR LOCAL COFFEE SHOP IS YOUR OFFICE.

I spent six years working in a small office with one window. Every day, friends would post photos of themselves working outdoors or in cafés, and I would fantasize about what it would be like to choose your workspace.

Options that were always present were being able to sit outside on my patio, or hunkering down in my local Starbucks, like I did in college. Either way, it always came back to one question: what would my working world look like, if I weren’t attached to my desk?

Happily, I am able to say that after accepting a position within a new company, I am able to answer that question. I am able to choose where I work and in what kind of atmosphere I perform best—and, although the weather in Boston has not allowed me to sit outside just yet, I am greatly anticipating that day.

But, of course, with every new opportunity comes new challenges.

Now that I am no longer reporting to an office on a daily basis, I am also not encountering my colleagues. This new position that I have is completely remote, and as much as I love the work, not being in close proximity to my coworkers has been a learning experience.

What is it like when you are separated by thousands of miles from most of your coworkers? What is it like to be completely reliant on technology for communication? What is like to be completely remote? 

In one word? Interesting.

When you work remotely, your employer needs to know that you are committed to getting your work done. {Click to tweet} And, for that to be apparent, communication is key.

When you work remotely, your employer needs to know that you are committed to getting your work done. And, for that to be apparent, communication is key.

Plus, I like to brainstorm with others. I love to bounce ideas off of people. Having to do all of that over the phone or via email? Well, it can be taxing.

Related: How to Communicate Effectively at Work

So here are a few tips for those of you like me: working hard (but far), in a sea of devices, just trying to keep all of the balls you’re juggling in the air.

ALWAYS KEEP AN UPBEAT TONE

As much as I love email, there is something fundamentally wrong with it: There is no way for you to accurately understand the tone of the person writing it.

Email provides ample opportunity for comments, assignments, statements, and requests, to be completely misconstrued. So, even if the situation is critical and something needs to get done ASAP, always try to communicate in a tone that is somewhat upbeat.

Clearly, you can stress the importance of a circumstance, but try to remember that the person you’re talking to is in the same boat as you. Losing your cool or flying off the handle doesn’t help anyone, and will only hinder your relationships with your co-workers.

CAP LOCKS is never appreciated. {Click to tweet}

IF YOU HAVE QUESTIONS, ASK THEM

If you’re anything like me, you pride yourself on completing an assignment on time and done well. At my previous job, rather than ask questions, I would create two versions of any given project, and let my supervisor choose which she thought was best.

Now, not having the luxury of working steps from my supervisors, working remotely requires that I be completely aware of the expectations of all of my projects. There is no waste of time greater than completing a project, only to find that it needs to be revised.

Always ask questions. Nobody is going to think any less of you because you needed clarification on the parameters of your project.

Always ask questions. Nobody is going to think any less of you because you needed clarification on the parameters of your project.

SEEK OUT FEEDBACK

Another challenging aspect of working remotely is realizing that all of the members of your team are, like you, extremely busy—but you’re not able to see that.

Speaking from personal experience, I’ve completed projects and gone days without hearing back. Although my anxiety level rose a bit, I understand that, sometimes, it can take a while for my supervisors to review what I’ve done. They do have a million things on their own plates, after all.

So, I’ve begun to request acknowledgment and feedback. The acknowledgement is to let me know that they are in receipt of my work; and the feedback is to let me know that they are satisfied with my work, or to provide me with any edits that need to be made.

Related: The Annual Review: DIY Edition

Feedback can also boost your confidence, as I’ve recently found out. Switching positions isn’t easy, but switching industries—as I just did—can be down right nerve-racking. It is very reassuring to hear from your co-workers and supervisors that, although you’re new to the arena, you’re moving in the right direction and that they’re happy you’re a part of the team.

* * *

All jobs have challenges. Those tend to grow exponentially when you work remotely—far from your boss and your team.

The most important thing to remember is that your coworkers won’t remember all of the random project details or the watercooler chats you might miss—but they will remember how you handled yourself, and how you treated them.

They are your team. They are in the boat right alongside of you.

Don’t forget that, even if you have to take a train or a plane to see them.