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Making It Work Takes a Little Time

Posted by Insightlink on 09/29/15

How to be out of sight but not out of mind!


multitasking at workA stroll through the office can give you a pretty good sense of the mood at your work place. You can tell if it’s humming or if it feels broken, tired and pathetic. But what insight do you have when you work from home? No one can see you so they have no clue what your mood is. As more and more people choose to work from home, how can you tell if they are engaged if you can’t see them? And how, if you are the person working from home, do you feel connected to your company when you are alone at your house?

Work gets a lot more challenging when you are at home because you have to shift the way you approach your work and how you actually get it done. In terms of employee engagement, which is still very much a part of the remote experience, you have to realize you need to shift how you manage your own engagement and you have to own it. There is nobody around who can sense what you are experiencing, get signals from you or have a grasp on your level of happiness and satisfaction. Your engagement is all up to you.

4 key areas that help you to own it are as follows:

Clarify expectations:
You can’t begin and succeed unless you know what is expected of you. Knowing your job description comes first, of course, but most jobs don’t function in a vacuum as we are all interconnected as we strive to meet common goals and objectives. Working remotely implies a certain amount of disconnection from others. The lack of interaction with co-workers and management means there is less formal feedback about who is working on what, what stage a project is at, what has been accomplished so far and discussion about next steps. One way to stay in touch is to formalize the process and schedule regular check-ins with your supervisor. They can be quick calls and still be an effective way to understand where you fit into a project and get a sense for how it is progressing. Getting a broader view helps you know where you stand.

Ask for feedback:
Non-verbal clues do not exist when you work remotely. You can’t see a co-worker nod their head with approval or look at you with discontent or smile in agreement. It can be easy to confuse silence with the quality of your work, when you are not visible to your team. That is why you need to share your success stories. If you fail to communicate your progress sufficiently, no one will know. Receiving recognition is a key part of feeling engaged but if you do not share what you are doing with others, how can you be recognized?

Invest in your relationships:
Working remotely makes it hard to sustain working relationships. If you have worked in an office and find yourself at home, you will notice the connection to others is dramatically changed. For this reason, you have to be deliberate about investing time and energy into building strong relationships. It can be done working remotely thanks to technology. You can easily, with a little discipline, send a message over skype to say hello when you start work. Use skype for conferencing or skype chat, you can even stay in touch using social media like Facebook. You want to be regarded as reliable, at your desk when needed, and dedicated to generating quality work, so no one doubts how you spend your day. With regular contact you will build your network and feel like you are part of a team.

Find a balance:
The work-life balance when you work from home can be a struggle. Many people find they log more hours working from home because they start earlier, without a commute, and they frequently check emails and respond to them in the evenings when you should have ‘already left the office’. And this is consistent with current research as described by Christina Desmarais that shows remote workers work longer hours. Also when you are home, it becomes a tight rope act to balance work and chores. There will be weeks when you are glued to your chair and computer so it is very important to manage your days and be organized so that you aren’t burning out. Unplugging can be difficult because if you look around your house you can see chores that need to be done, so it is important to physically remove yourself and take breaks outside your home by walking, doing 15 minutes of gardening or choosing to work from a local coffee shop.
Working from home is considered by most to be a privilege, however, companies and stay-at-home employees need to know they are at risk for higher levels of disengagement than their counterparts. 

The only way to offset this trend is to own it yourself and make sure you are as involved in your workplace as you can be. Taking responsibility for your own engagement is the commitment you need to make to ensure a happy and positive work-from-home experience. For more about telecommuting and working from home read our blog titled "Working from home gets the nod."


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