5 Ways to Succeed While Working Remotely

When you're a remote worker, it sometimes seems like you're on another planet. Introvert or extrovert, you can thrive when your manager is 3,000 miles away.

1. Set Clear Expectations 

Harry Potter Clear Expectations

Your brain thinks differently from anyone else's brain. What seems clear to you may be a murky mess to your manager. First, set work expectations. Make sure they know what time zone you're in and what obligations you have outside of work. I chat with people literally all over the world. Knowing my colleague in London just started a family or that my contact in India is a night owl helps me respect their time as much as they respect mine.

Second, set project and task expectations. Marking expected timeline, deliverable, and stakeholders sets up a clear project plan you can both agree on, and share with others looking to know what it is you do all day. Clear expectations prevent any disappointments or surprises down the line.

2. Constant Communication Is Key

Rush Hour Communication Problems

Everyone has a different style. Your manager may give you plenty of space to do your own thing, or be breathing down your neck at every opportunity (from afar). Communicating frequently keeps projects on track and helps you get to know your manager better. It takes no effort to send a quick email rundown every Friday of your status--regardless of style, putting it in writing (see below) makes sure your manager knows what's up.

I found out my manager would rather text than email, since her inbox is overloaded. I had another manager who preferred a biweekly status spreadsheet with issues highlighted in red. It all depends on your manager's personal style and what they prefer. So: ask them. 

3. Make Time to Get to Know Your Teammates

Don't be like Tom Hanks in Cast Away.

Don't be like Tom Hanks in Cast Away.

Ok, so you can't head to the office watering hole after a long day at work. But you can schedule 30 minute calls once a month with your team members just to catch up. No business allowed. Ask them about their family, their favorite food, recent vacations, or the most recent book they read. We're all on calls all day, and it feels great to be able to decompress and talk about nothing for a half hour. You get to know the person behind the disembodied voice.

4. Put It In Writing

Office Future Dwight Writing

Working remotely, you're tugged in multiple directions from call to call. If you make any decisions or additions to your to-do list, write it down. In fact, email it out to everyone in the meeting. It's courteous and keeps everyone on track because you have a written record of what needs to get done. A week later, when that call is a distant, fading memory, you'll be the one who didn't drop the ball.

5. Use Technology to Your Advantage

The files are IN the computer???

The files are IN the computer???

Just because you're on the other side of the country doesn't mean you can't speak face to face. Tools like Skype, Facetime, or Google Hangouts let you video chat anywhere with wifi. Still in your PJs? Try an online chat system like Slack or Gchat. Get creative about how you communicate!

For more tips, check out this great blog post from Salesforce!