Working for a company that is all about making the mobile workstyle achievable certainly has its perks. Being able to work from home or a nearby coffee shop a few days a month is wonderful, but I’ve realized I’m a city girl, trapped in suburban South Florida and it’s time to make my move.
But I love my job! The people I work with are amazing and we work for a great company. It would be tough leaving. Thankfully, the company is Citrix, a leader in workplace mobility software, and my team is extremely supportive – as long as my productivity and quality of work don’t take a dip.
So, how can you work away from the office and still be successful, keep your team and customers happy and still maintain visibility? Pairing research with my own learnings of what works for me, I’ve come up with a few helpful tips:
Define and follow your work style. Finding your “flow” is crucial. This means figuring out all the elements that allow you to create your best work, what makes you feel the most inspired, or what keeps your creative juices flowing. Knowing that you create really great presentations while sitting in a cozy café while playing classical music, but come up with the most innovative ideas when you’re in a bustling coffee shop with a metal soundtrack, you’ll be able to determine what you need to do produce top-quality work.
Keep your work organized. For me, an organized workspace is a must. This is something that’s hard to do when you’re in the middle of packing up all of your belongings, but hopefully won’t be a problem once you’re in your tiny, new city apartment. This includes being virtually organized, too. Having folders within folders has always helped me keep my head straight.
Establishing a routine will keep you from working too many hours in a day, and also makes it easier for your coworkers to keep track of when you’re available. And that routine should definitely include some activity! When you’re working from home it’s easy to sit in front of the computer all day, but get up! Taking a break to walk the dog or doing a couple laps around the block will keep you from burning out. I should also mention your routine should include showering and putting on actual clothes. And no, joining virtual webcam meetings in your pajama bottoms and a dressy blouse doesn’t count. Dress the part from head to toe.
Since you won’t get face-to-face time with coworkers and customers, it’s important to go the extra mile to keep those relationships strong. Step up to offer them help whenever possible or go beyond expectations when asked to do something. And don’t forget that they have personal lives too – join meetings a few minutes early to catch up on how their family is doing or how they did in the marathon that weekend. Regularly schedule virtual coffee dates to catch up on how the city’s treating you and all about the new boy their teenage daughter started dating.
And you can’t leave out the most important relationship: the one between you and your manager. After all, your manager is the one putting her/his neck out for you to be able to work remote in the first place. Make her (or him) proud! Set clear goals and expectations for whatever you’re working on and follow up to provide updates consistently.
Finally, tooting your own horn isn’t a bad thing. When you’ve accomplished something particularly challenging, make sure your manager knows how you’re making a difference. In the end, since the majority of folks can’t see you sitting at your desk every day, your manager will have to be your number one fan to provide that visibility of how you’re still adding value, even while you’re using a hotspot in the middle of Central Park on a picnic blanket to get the job done, and done well.
The idea that you need to be sitting in an office every day to do your job is quickly being replaced with the idea that work is not place – as long as you have the skills and technology to stay productive and create your best work, you can work from anywhere.