Working from home can be both a blessing and a curse. On one hand, being in your own environment can make you more productive and keep you focused on your tasks. Everyone knows traditional office environments can be filled with constant interruptions. But on the other hand, it can be difficult to stay in touch and collaborate effectively with far-flung team members. These three working from home tips will help you and your colleagues stay on the same page, no matter how far apart you are.
1. Leverage Technology
A text message can travel the globe in the blink of an eye. Nearly all computers come with webcams. And with a push of a button, you can video-chat with coworkers in different cities, states, or countries. Leverage this technology to stay in touch.
Chats, instant messages, and group texts are perfect for short status reports or daily check-ins. Online task management tools offer shared calendars, task lists, and internal communication features. Email is also a vital tool for people working remotely.
And while most teams use a combination of different technologies to collaborate, there’s no substitute for actual human interaction. As Time notes, you may need to show the initiative in that regard. It’s best to not always wait for your boss or in-office colleagues to suggest points of connection. Sometimes it’s up to you to start a Slack chat or a Skype conference call. Whether it’s via webcam or phone, schedule time to actually speak to each other on a regular basis. Hearing someone’s voice or seeing their body language can tell you far more than any quick text or email thread ever could.
2. Set Consistent Meeting Times
Meetings do more than just convey information. They also foster a sense of team. Working from home, you don’t have the same opportunities that office workers have. You can’t pop by Susan’s desk for a chat or catch up with Pete by the water cooler. Promoting camaraderie and friendship within the team allows everyone to be more engaged.
Make sure you have a designated meeting time. Some teams may only need to meet once a week. Others might need more frequent interactions. Use an agenda to keep the meeting running smoothly. Create a meeting template in a shared Dropbox, Google Doc, or OneNote file. And then allow team members to add their questions, comments, or concerns to the agenda prior to the meeting. But don’t forget to occasionally check-in with Susan and Pete over IM or phone, so your meetings are not the only touch point.
3. Be Available and Responsive
Because you’re not in the office every day, you need to work harder to prove your worth and stay visible to your supervisors. The Forbes Coaches Council says, “In order to stay relevant in your roles, as well as be seen as growing and eligible for promotion, you need to be visible to your management, especially upper management, making these decisions.”
You can accomplish this by being available and responsive to colleagues and management. Respond to requests as quickly as possible. If you can’t perform a task immediately, communicate when you’ll be able to get it done. And then stick to your word. This isn’t to say that you have to be tethered to your company 24/7. But following these working from home tips is extremely important so that you keep the same office hours that your other colleagues observe.
For many administrative professionals, the ability to work at home is a dream come true. But it’s not without its hurdles. When you follow these working from home tips, leverage technology, schedule regular meeting times, and commit yourself to being available and responsive, it’s easier to be a valued — although, virtual — member of the team.
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