Having the opportunity to work remotely has been a great experience. However, I realized that I was working more hours than I did when I had a desk job because I was constantly trying to prove that I was being productive.
I’m not alone. Trello’s guide on How to Embrace Remote Work places the notion that remote workers are slackers at the top of its list of myths: “There is a perception that if you can’t physically see someone sitting at their desk doing work, then they’re not getting anything done.” And when you feel that your manager or client may question your productivity, it can lead you to overcompensate.
I found that these four behaviors helped dispel that myth and made me more successful in my role.
Stay transparent about time
I have always valued transparency about the work I do, regardless if I work at the office or at home. I like to create a weekly plan and make a to-do list. I love using Trello to make my work visible and easy to follow. And I communicate the time it takes to complete one task or the whole project. As a digital marketing consultant, my projects include tasks that may take hours or days to complete. If you are working with a nontechnical team or supervisor, it is important to clearly convey how long the work may take.
Communication is vital as a remote worker. Establish a weekly one-on-one meeting with your manager to cover the work you have completed and the projects you have lined up for the coming week.
We all know that urgent projects can pop up from time to time. When you are asked to work on an urgent project, remember to communicate in your weekly meeting that you reshuffled your workload.
One thing I like about Projectline Services is that they offer a template to create an action plan to document and manage your progress in your consulting role the first 30, 60, and 90 days. I found the template useful to follow even after 90 days because it helped me keep up with my work and communicate with my manager.
Separate your work time from your personal time
Working from home can be tricky. It can be very hard to separate your work hours from your personal time. As emails keep coming through the evening, remote workers often feel obligated to respond and show that they are available. As a remote worker, you may try to go above and beyond so that no one is inconvenienced by your absence from the office. This can translate into working more hours at home than at the office. When you work at your desk, any email that comes through after you leave work waits until the next day.
The 7 Biggest Remote Work Challenges discusses this trend: “When your personal life and your work are both under the same roof, its harder to ‘switch off.’” It offers suggestions to avoid overworking, like setting appointments on your calendar. I block my calendar when I need to focus without any distractions—and I use the same idea to block my personal time on my calendar while working remotely.
Another important action to take is to turn off email notifications on your phone. It is too tempting to respond to an email notification you receive after hours.
Take ownership, stay accountable
To gain trust and confidence from your employer, show that you take ownership of the project and that you are accountable. This applies whether you work in the office or remotely. Some projects will require you to communicate with customers or vendors in different time zones. Will you not call into an important meeting that falls outside of the work hours you set? There are times to make some exceptions.
While working on reactivating an online advertising account after a merger, I had to communicate with a team that worked in different time zone. Getting this account reactivated was imperative to my work. I woke up at 5 a.m. to speak with the team and took calls at 7 p.m. on a Friday evening. I knew this wouldn’t be an everyday occurrence. And the sooner I took care this urgent project, the sooner I could return to my main project.
In my early career, I was introduced to speaker and author Brian Tracy, who says that everyone possesses leadership qualities. “When you begin practicing these qualities and behaviors, you step on the accelerator of your own career and move quickly to the front in whatever you are doing.”
As a leader, you must take ownership of your project and do whatever it takes to get the result. This is what separates you from the crowd. You want to show your employer that you can be a leader and take care of things on your own. You don’t need someone over your head asking you if have done the work.
These four behaviors will help you build trust with your employer when you work from home. Knowing that you have a good work ethic and believing you will get the work done, your manager or client will feel confident with you working remotely. Your accomplishments and your contribution to the company’s success will demonstrate your value as an employee, and you will have peace of mind about your work.
Mahta Woldeselassie is a freelance digital marketing consultant. You can connect with her via LinkedIn.