Tag: Working Remotely

How to Have an Effective Check-In With Your Boss From Home

Personal DevelopmentTelecommutingWork From HomeWorking Remotely

Image result for call from home office + free image

For many working professionals who work remotely, much of your productivity and success are reliant on your interactions with and relationship with your manager. It goes without saying that then having a good relationship with your boss is critical. One component of this is maintaining regular check-ins and ensuring that they are productive.

Maybe you’re a full-time remote employee, maybe you work remotely once in a while so don’t always have your meetings in person, maybe you work from an office but for whatever reason– you’re sick, your manager is sick, it’s the holidays, she’s in another location, whatever!– you’re having your check-in over the phone. Simple, right? Ehhh… Not always. Read these tips before you connect and you’ll showcase your ability to effectively communicate over the phone.

  1. Come prepared. To have a successful check-in with your manager over the phone solid preparation is key so that you can use your face-time–sans face–best. Preparation can be as simple as a list of topics or questions. For every check-in spend some time on your own reflecting on what you want to cover since your last check-in; this can include reviewing your current workload, development, areas (and/or people) in which you’re hitting roadblocks, upcoming vacations– anything. List it all off for yourself. If you have an agreed upon way to structure the conversation follow that but taking “inventory” of all the topics you would like to cover is important.
  2.  Organize your thoughts. After I lay out what I want to cover, I like to email something to my manager. This is usually not the exact same list I captured during my prep, often what I send my manager is shorter and a bit more high level. Try to keep it a manageable list for the length of time you have. Again, follow your manager’s and company’s preferences but I find this especially helpful during a phone check-in since your manager is likely in front of her computer so has the opportunity to multi-task. Whatever it is, having something down on paper (err– on a screen) helps minimize the chance that your manager is doing other things and helps her focus on you.
  3. Control the conversation and set expectations upfront. So now that you know what you want to cover and have communicated the topics in some form to your boss, ensuring you clearly express yourself to get what you need to get out of the conversation is key. Even if you have your manager’s undivided attention it’s easy to get off track and for whatever reason this seems to happen more over the phone. Combat it by ensuring you stay on relevant topics that you want to discuss. If something warrants a longer conversation but you still do really need to get to a few other “agenda items” it’s completely fair to recommend you have a separate, dedicated conversation about a specific item at a later point in time.
  4. Gut-check you’re spending your time the right way. My favorite thing to do during check-ins with my manager is to share what I call my “time allocation.” I literally share the main projects I am working on (bucketing similar, smaller ones together so to not get off topic) as well as what percent of my time I have been spending on each. I then ask my manager to confirm that he agrees I am using my time correctly. It’s essential for all professionals to ensure they are on the same page with their boss regarding priorities and how their time should be spent, but for telecommuters who don’t physically see their managers daily it can be even more important. Early in my career, while working from an office location, I would often connect with my managers on priorities two or three times a week, if not daily. But in recent years while working remotely I’ve noticed this just doesn’t happen as much so I’ve taken matters into my own hands.
  5. Brag. This is another one that’s important (though also hard!) for everyone but perhaps even more so for fellow remote workers: you must toot your own horn. Because you don’t see your manager as frequently as you would in the office it’s even more important to share your successes so he knows about them. Remember no one is as invested in your career as you are. Even the very best managers are not. Nor are the very best manager’s aware of what *exactly* you’re doing day-to-day. You must tell them.

Truth be told you should be doing all of these things during your check-ins whether you’re remote or not but it’s extra important to be upfront and communicative about your work and what you need from your manager. Your check-in should be your time, use it wisely!

Acing the LONG conference call from home

TelecommutingWork From HomeWorking Remotely

I’ve done it! Last Thursday to be specific I faced, tackled, and rocked my first working session while being a remote employee.

Now before you start raising your eyebrows and think, “Congratulations, you took a phone call.” Yes, I took a phone call. And right, we all do this. But more specifically I’m not talking about a 30, 60, or even 90 minute one. I am talking about a nearly 3 hour working session during which I had to remain engaged, proactively share my thoughts and opinions, oh and did I say remain engaged for nearly 3 hours?

Now I’m lucky in that not *everyone* on the call was in the same location. There were attendees from different offices and others working remotely. This is important since those who were in the office were attune to the needs and hurdles remote employees, like me, were facing. But still it was close to 180 minutes on the phone, talking about the same thing, thirty feet from my television and a room away from my bed.

I won’t lie, it was difficult; I had to actively work to keep myself engaged. But it was something I knew would happen sooner or later and something that I knew would greatly predict my ability to do well in this new role. I’ve been sort of waiting for this to happen to use it as a gauge of how easy or difficult this whole, working remotely full-time would be.

So the verdict was that it went well, but what does that really mean and how did I do this? Glad you asked…

  1. I walked around. Here’s where one big advantage of WFH comes in– I can move around often without anyone knowing. I’m not saying I went on a full-blown stroll around the neighborhood, though that does sound nice and I know people who swear by that for status calls. But I moved around. Blood flow helps brain flow, or something like that, but really it is science.
  2. When I zoned out I caught myself. Let’s be honest, this happens in person too. But when you’re at home you have to be accountable to yourself since there’s no one who will give you a hairy eyeball for having a glazed over look on your face or scrolling through Facebook.
  3. To that end, I stayed off social media. It always shocks me how many people can be found scrolling through Facebook or Instagram or worse (read: dating apps) quietly under a table on a meeting or presentation. DO NOT DO THIS. Just don’t. Even if your manager or the presenter doesn’t see you someone else (like me during that team meeting in the office two weeks ago…) may and it doesn’t make you show up well. Anyway, while working from home this is an easy trap to fall into since no one can you see right? Maybe. But maybe you’re friends with them on Facebook and they see that you’re online (okay, I get that this would mean that they too were online, still, just don’t do it).
  4. I was aware. I firmly believe that being self-aware or simply aware contributes to 90% of showing up well to everything; okay, I actually have no idea how to quantify that in terms of a percentage, but for me I think the state of simply being aware is huge. And it applies here. I was aware of the fact that this was an important meeting and that this was a situation that might be challenging. Because of those things I was able to keep myself in check by the other above tactics.

What about you? Have you taken a long conference call from home or had to participate in a “working session” from afar? How did it go? What did you do to remain engaged and focused? Share in the comments below.

Testing. Testing. One, two…

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Hi there! I’m Jane and you’ve stumbled upon my first post on my new blog, The Working Girl From Home.

So, what are you reading and who am I? Well, I am a working professional who recently began a role in which I will be working remotely full-time. Now I’ve worked remotely in jobs before. The company I worked for right out of college was pretty flexible and it wasn’t uncommon to work from home one day a week (or so). At my last company it was also quite common; towards the end of that experience I was working remotely sometimes 80-90% of the week.

Still, being in a home office or work space, away from your colleagues who are mostly in an office, is a different and unique experience. For that reason after accepting this role I began to scour the Internet for tips, advice, and hopefully to come across an experienced work-from-home professional I could turn to (by way of reading the archives of her/his blog) to learn the ropes.

But I found nothing.

Well, that’s not entirely true. I found posts on the major career-focused outlets about ways to be efficient while at home, ways to ask your manager to for some flexibility, ways to handle working remotely while children or pets are in the home, and the benefits of changing out of your jammies and actually getting dressed. But I didn’t find my guru.

Which is when I decided that I would be my own guru. And hopefully be able to offer some guidance to others by blogging along the way.

A couple of notes: I have just started this new gig so I imagine my first couple of posts will reflect that new-ness. Also I will be traveling to my company’s headquarters periodically, and to start for the first month. Other than that I will be full-time in mi casa working away and sharing the experience.

So this is it, post one. No major tips or advice here just yet other than supporting the feminist idea of being your own hero and defining your own parameters (more on that another time…)

So with that, workers near and far– happy Monday, go forth and kick butt, wherever your desk may be. And of course keep checking back for more.

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