• Jillian Skowronski

Mastering Remote: Your Guide to Excelling as a Remote Employee



Due to the ever-changing workplace, remote management is now at the forefront of our business lives. Learning how to excel as a remote employee is essential for keeping business running when your company either cannot be or chooses not to be co-located. These are some of the best practices to guide you towards success as a remote employee:


1) Clear Expectations & Boundaries

2) Communicate, Times 2

3) Your Environment

4) In Practice

5) Mental Game


There are pros and cons to working remotely. Some pros are flexibility, energy, and focus. Some cons are loneliness, getting out less, and feeling left out. Learn more about remote employee data in Buffer’s 2020 The State of Remote Work report.

Now let’s dive into these best practices and look at some to-do’s you can apply today!



1) Clear Expectations & Boundaries

Setting and receiving clear expectations is both essential and motivating when working remotely. Boundaries and routines need to be clear to your boss and co-workers, so they understand your remote situation. They need to know when you will and will not be available.

If expectations are completely clear and preferably mutually agreed-upon, it helps to bring the entire remote working arrangement into clearer focus” – Victor Lipman

Setting expectations in an at-home workspace is important for remote employees. Whether there are family members, friends, roommates, pets, etc. in your space, setting clear expectations and guidelines will aid in your remote success. Setting clear remote work boundaries and routines with your family and friends is also important so they can know when you will and will not be available for non-work matters as well as what to expect when you are working.

To-do:

  • Clarify goals

  • Set clear priorities and deadlines

  • Follow up after meetings with an email, be specific

  • Try to avoid disruptions from kids and others

  • Provide updates during projects and ask for feedback after

  • Use a door or sign to signal to others when to not disturb you

  • Understand what is expected from you and ask for clarification

  • Explain to others that when you’re working from home, you’re working


2) Communicate, Times 2

Over-communication is key! When not in the office, you need to take your communication skills to the next level. If you want to excel at being a remote employee, you absolutely must focus time and energy on communication. There are a variety of things that need to be communicated in remote work; the challenge is to stay on top of them all … social interaction, project updates, progress, roadblocks, milestones, official messages, and more. Project management software, such as Basecamp can aid in communicating progress and updates to team members.

When not in a co-located workspace, it can be easier to go “off the grid” during the day. Doing so can stop progress and minimize co-worker contact. If you use a tool, like Slack, utilize statuses and availability options to keep your team informed. Going “off the grid” disturbs your connection with peers and the workflow of the team, so try to avoid it!

To-do:

  • Over-communicate

  • Advocate for yourself

  • Monitor official messages

  • Schedule 1:1 check-in meetings on a weekly basis

  • Stay in contact via official communication channels

  • Clearly state the progress you have made, bring important milestones up on your own


3) Your Environment

Getting your gear ready allows you to set clear expectations and successfully communicate in a remote environment. In addition to your work materials, this involves both a physical work environment and a mental workspace. Set yourself up for success by having the tools and equipment you need to focus on work even when you’re at home.

Once you have your gear, create a dedicated space for it. It is suggested to find a space with walls and a door to encourage a work-only space/room. Dedicating a unique space helps you associate that area for work. Make sure you feel focused and motivated by your space. Whether you switch your environment up or not, make sure the space is right for your workday. Optimizing and organizing your space is important so your surroundings won’t distract from your work.

To-do:

  • Limit your distractions

  • Organize your workspace

  • Create a dedicated workspace

  • Find space with walls and a door if possible

  • Use lists and tools to manage tasks and timetables

  • Develop your knowledge of important everyday tools

  • Obtain the tools and technology needed to perform your job


4) In Practice


Keep your morning routine just like you’d be going into the office. Sleeping in can make you tired and sluggish for the rest of the day. Maintain boundaries between work and home when working remotely, since it is still a workday. It’s natural to want to prove to your boss that you’re really working when you’re at home, but don’t overwork yourself. Try to stick to the workload you maintained if you previously worked in an office.

Without a rhythm of an office around you, it’s easy to forget to take a lunch break or stretch your legs. This may seem like it allows you to be more productive, but it is a perfect recipe for burnout. Taking breaks will help you focus and keep you refreshed so you can be efficient and effective.

To-do:

  • Know when to “log off”

  • Don’t overwork yourself

  • Avoid being too sedentary

  • Dress in your regular clothes

  • Have a routine but be flexible

  • Take breaks (walk, rest, stretch)

  • Keep to your normal “start-time”

  • Set alarms to remind you to break

5) Mental Game

Finding purpose in your work is always a must, but even more important when working remotely. Intrinsic motivators, behaviors that give you internal rewards and satisfaction, will boost morale and determination. Listen to the radio, seek social contact after work (when safe to do so), or sign up for an online group or club during your free time to combat the loneliness remote work can bring. Emphasize culture and bring a unique part of yourself to your team. You never know what people will connect with or what will help you find purpose.

Creating a strong support system with both co-workers and family and friends will help your mental game when working from home. By regularly engaging and communicating with your boss, coworkers, and peers, you can build trust for a strong support system. Engage and bond with your colleagues so you can lean on your community in times of need and boredom.

To-do:

  • Emphasize culture

  • Build trust in your team

  • Listen to the radio or music

  • Develop a remote community

  • Make a friend in your organization

  • Bring a unique part of yourself to work

  • Motive co-workers both in and out of work

  • Maintain strong support from family and friends

  • Spend 1:1 time to learn more about your coworkers

  • Share your passions that are present in your work with others

  • Find what motivates you and gives you a rewarding feeling at work

Conclusion:

Your work-from-home plan should always include strategies for getting work done as best as possible. That means making sure you’re taking breaks, setting and enforcing boundaries, and demonstrating how productive you are working from home.

If your employer doesn’t currently have one, ask about creating an emergency work-from-home plan that can be used for all emergencies. The next time it may not be a worldwide epidemic. It could be something as simple as a bad storm that means everyone has to work from home.

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