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How to be Effective at Working Remotely

Brady Voss
May 3, 2016 · 5 min read

“I love you.”

It’s also important to note that people aren’t always empathetic towards others for being remote in the first place. Sometimes people will–albeit unintentionally–signal that it’s an inconvenience you’re not actually there with them. Your absence can quickly make you become out of sight, and out of mind. You need to make it your responsibility to accommodate others more than you typically would in day-to-day work life.

Here are 10 helpful ways to be effective at working remotely:

  1. Over-communicate
    It’s always safe to assume people don’t know what you’re thinking. You’ll find the more you communicate with others, the more they will reciprocate. If you don’t tell them, they will simply just never have known. Ask them questions, tell them what you’re doing, be responsive, and get over that you think you’re bugging them too much. The more you communicate, the shorter the physical distance between you appears. One short messaging conversation can equate to a two hour email thread.
  2. Share Frequently and Get Feedback More Often
    Constantly send screenshots and ideas. People like this. Give them a glimpse into your head throughout the day so they can see your creative process. Make it known that you should share your unfinished work in progress. A single reply from a teammate can steer your entire project in a better direction. Get feedback on your work early on so you can evolve sooner.
  3. Move Quickly
    Having a quicker turn around time constantly reminds people you’re on top of the task and they have nothing to worry about. When people can’t physically see something happening around them, they don’t know whether it’s getting done or not. Burn through the ideas quickly to show your progress, get feedback, then continue refining from there.
  4. Build Trust
    Being remote doesn’t mean you can’t build a strong rapport. Build trust in your team by constantly reminding them how dependable you are. You can do this by being the first one to respond in threads, providing your feedback, leading initiatives, and not just delivering your work on time, but delivering it early.
  5. Openly Voice Your Opinion
    Be the first to respond. People have short term memories, so keep hammering it in that you’re here and you have an opinion. Provide feedback on other people’s work and be convicted, without ego. Be understanding and find that balance in the difference of opinions without ending in a dreadful compromise.
  6. Be a Leader
    One of the qualities a leader has is that you actively know what to do next, without being told to do so. You need to take the initiative to drive the team. Do things like having something exciting for everyone to see when they look at their phones as they wake up in the morning. Set their tone for the rest of the day.
  7. Set Expectations
    Although you need to take more responsibility on yourself, this is a two way street. It’s up to you to make sure your team knows how to work best with you, as well. If they aren’t regularly sharing progress with you, bug them. Ask them questions every day. Make it known that your awareness matters a lot, and affects the outcome of the project.
  8. Get Physical Face Time
    In the end, working with people face-to-face is the most ideal experience. People will learn to appreciate it when you are there. Sometimes seeing people less makes the time that you do have together much more effective. Distance really can make the heart grow fonder. If you can’t physically be present, have your closest teammate be the eyes on the ground for you so they can keep you informed of hearsay.
  9. Understand Video Conferencing Etiquette
    Every person on a video call needs to understand this: the microphones are your lifeline and they pick up everything. Granola bar wrappers sound like they’re a crinkling thunderstorm, pens tapping on the table sound like the building foundation is about to give out, and side conversations sound like a conference hall of 1,000 people. Respect that the situation is unique and different. Everyone’s goal should be to walk out feeling like it was just as productive as any other meeting. Video conferencing is the new normal, whether your company has accepted that yet or not.
  10. Get the Best Equipment
    A half second video lag feels like it might as well be a five second lag. It ruins every conversation. Get the fastest internet. Get a fast computer. Get a good microphone. Get personal space. Get decent lighting. Make it feel like it was just as effective as sitting next to each other in a room.

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