If you’ve been working from home full time for a while now, you’ve discovered one of its biggest challenges: the lack of face time with your manager.
Even with frequent video conferencing, you may be worried that your hard work will go unnoticed from a distance. Here’s how to impress your boss while working remotely.
BE MORE RESPONSIVE THAN USUAL
Working from home can blur the line between your personal and professional life. By all means, make sure you’re creating boundaries and giving yourself down time so you don’t burnout. But when you’re officially on the clock, don’t let your responses lag, suggests Penny Hunter, a partner at Juice, a consultancy that specializes in remote workforces.
“Don’t let email sit. Try to make it a priority to get back to people quickly, even if it’s a promise to respond more completely later,” she says. “Because you don’t have the luxury of quick conversations in the hall, email becomes even more important. If your team uses Slack or another tool like it, be responsive there.”
By providing answers quickly, you won’t delay your teammates’ work when they’re waiting for your input. And as Hunter notes, you don’t have to give a full response right away. Simply let your boss or colleague know that you’ve received their message and will be responding in the near future. This will help let them know their message hasn’t slipped through the cracks.
SCHEDULE MORE REGULAR CHECK-INS
To ensure you’re meeting your boss’ expectations, schedule a regular check-in. Whether it’s over video chat or by phone, come prepared with a loose agenda so you don’t forget anything you want to cover. “These meetings will ensure you’re on the same page with your boss,” Hunter says. “They also allow you to address projects and pitfalls that may get missed in email and messaging.”
Here are some discussion ideas to get you started:
What’s something you need from me this week?
What do we need to accomplish in the next week?
Is there an area where I’m creating a problem for you?
I’d like to do better in X area this week.
BE A PROBLEM SOLVER
Start by asking yourself, “What problem is my boss trying to solve?” and “What's keeping her up at night?” Hunter suggests. Once you’ve answered that, invest time in finding solutions. This might include creating a proposal for a marketing campaign that could help drive sales, writing an analysis to better understand your customer base or researching software that could increase your team’s productivity.
If you feel like you don’t have time for the additional workload, consider using the time you’d otherwise spend commuting each day. By identifying efficiencies and money-saving measures, you’ll not only impress your boss, but also demonstrate your commitment to the long-term success of the company.
BE A TEAM PLAYER
If you have the bandwidth, offer to help or offload some work from another team member’s plate — just be sure you’re not overstepping and ruffling feathers. “Be careful as you try to prove your value to not step in people’s areas of responsibility,” Hunter warns. “While new ideas may be highly valued in your organization, new ideas in someone else’s area of responsibility can make people feel threatened and unappreciated.” Instead, she recommends you start by asking how and if you can help.
Another way to show support? Be generous with compliments. “Affirm good work you see in others,” Hunter says. “Do it publicly and often. This is one of the few times you should copy more people than actually necessary to see a message.”
Finally, remember that empathy can go a long way in impressing your boss while working from home. "The ability to understand and relate to what someone else is feeling is a soft skill that’s undervalued and desperately needed,” Hunter adds.