It all happened so fast. One day they were talking about this virus over in Asia and the next thing we knew, it had made its way to the US and very quickly all hell broke loose. Stores were out of toilet paper, schools were closing and your company was sending you an official email telling you that you’re working from home for the foreseeable future.
You’re so consumed by the panic surrounding you, so overwhlemed by the lack of certainty of this unprecedented event, and so incredibly baffled as to why people are buying so much damn toilet paper that you don’t even realize you are getting what you have always asked for – the ability to work from home!
It’s time to lay the foundation to convince your boss to let you work remotely after this whole thing blows over.
Most people don’t ever think about proposing remote work to their employers, but you absolutely can and one of the biggest key points in that proposal is proof that you can do it effectively.
I’ve got plenty of resources to teach you how to propose remote work to your employer but before we go putting the cart before the horse, let’s talk about what you need to do during this time to set your future self up for success once everything returns to normal and you’re ready to ask your boss to let you keep working from home….or from anywhere!
Here are 5 things I want you to make sure you do while you are working remotely:
1. Be Disciplined
It is VERY easy to be distracted when you’re working from home especially if you aren’t used to it. It’s one of the things I listed as the Things You’ll Hate About Working Remotely. My very first day working from home full-time, I made the mistake of thinking I could work from my bed. HUGE MISTAKE. I was so unproductive. I kept taking intermittent naps, I didn’t get very much done and I even fell asleep on a conference call! Super embarrassing (I had to use the “Oh, I was on mute” excuse).
Build in the discipline by doing the following:
- Create a workspace, somewhere dedicated to focusing on work
- Follow a routine that closely mirrors your routine at the office. Start work around the same time or earlier. Take the same breaks (lunch break, break to chat with a coworker, etc)
- Get up and get dressed. You don’t have to get cute or anything, even if you change from the pajamas you slept in to some comfy jogging pants and a t-shirt. Go through the act of getting dressed. It goes a long way, trust me.
- Work in timeblocks so you can stay focused. Set 30, 60, and 90 min timeblocks with no distractions, just crushing tasks.
2. Step Up Your Visibility
You may not like the idea of a lot of meetings and touchpoints but if your company or your boss is not used to being in a remote work situation, you need to do everything you can to make him/her feel better about this. Why is that your responsibility? Because YOU are the one who wants to make this a long-term thing and if you’re going to convince her to get on board with your plans, you’ll need to make it as easy as possible to say “yes” when you ask. Most people don’t say “yes” to things they aren’t comfortable with, so help your boss get comfortable with this situation by showing her you have it under control.
A few ways you can take the initiative to ensure your boss knows you are still working hard:
- Schedule a few 10 minute end of day check-ins just to share where things are.
- Send out short end of day wrap-up emails with a list of the things you closed out, addressed, or completed.
- Loop them into conversations you may not normally have bothered to cc them on just so they know things are moving along.
- Set up a chat group using your companies tools (ie Skype, Teams, etc) to talk through things throughout the day.
Make sure throughout the day, they “see” you working.
3. Baseline and track your productivity
Building hard evidence that you are productive working from home is going to be major key when you build out your future presentation to make this a more permanent situation.
Through a way you can track your producitvity during this timeperiod so that you can compare it to when you were not remote. The idea is that you can illustrate that you are just as producive, if not more productive working remotely.
Track how quickly you get through your daily work tasks. Track how many contracts you reviewed. How mahy applications you processed. Whatever are the 2-3 key metrics that determine success, progress, or productivity for your job – track it. Track everything on a daily basis. Keep it in an excel spreadsheet or on a notepad.
At the end of the week, you should be able to say “I was able to complete and review 10 reports in less than 2 hours this week where it normally takes me 2 days to review that many.” or something similar.
4. Record Every Single Win
This goes hand in hand with #3. You are building a case for just how good you are no matter where you are located.
In addition to tracking your productivity, I want you to track every single win. Every time you solve a problem, close a deal, get good customer feedback, get a pat on the back from your employees, write it down.
At the end of this, you’ll be able to say “I was working from home and I still maintained a high customer feedback rating!” or “While I was working remotely, I was still able to close 7 new customer accounts!“
This will go a long way in building out your proposal.
5. Get Regular Feedback
Getting regular feedback from your boss is a good idea in any job situation. But you definitely want to get feedback during this time.
One reason is to ensure your boss is happy with your performance and doesn’t feel like anything is slipping.
The other reason is you want to get it on the record that your boss is happy with your performance and nothing is slipping…specifically during this time you are working from home.
Take these steps to get there:
- Voluntarily schedule short weekly one on ones to just check in
- In that meeting, share your productiviey and wins for the week (the things you did in #3 and #4 will come in handy here)
- Ask for feedback from your boss on how the week went – what went well, what didn’t go well, is there anything you can do differently.
- Follow that meeting up with an email with the notes you took during that session. This one is important. This will be your proof that things are going well with you working remotely.
Note, if you can’t have a weekly one on one, at least shoot them an email with the questions in #3 above to solicit some feedback.
If you’re diligent about doing these things while you’re temporarily working from home you’ll be leaps and bounds closer to being able to confidently proposing this as a more permanent arrangement.
The one thing not in my list is “belief”. You have to believe you can do these things, that you can make this request, and, more importantly, that we will get through this turbulent time.