More Canadians than ever are working from home due to the impact of the coronavirus COViD-19. As such, it is crucial to keep in mind that your boss might have a different set of expectations when managing remotely. In fact, most managers would deny having two sets of “rules” for how they manage their team.
In reality, managing remote resources is indeed different and requires a slightly different approach. A remote employee’s daily life is considerably different – and the mechanisms that they use to perform their work can vary – from their local counterparts.
Similarly, a manager has to use different methods and approaches to determine how all of their employees are performing. Having said that, these expectations may not be communicated to you in a very explicit manner and, as such, you must determine what your supervisor expects of you and how you can work towards exceeding those expectations. Here are some suggestions:
Communication is key
Not all managers are going to be entirely comfortable with the idea of managing remote employees. Even though remote work has become more commonplace in recent years, there are still some detractors – especially those who were part of the workforce before the digital revolution. Since you will be working remotely, it behooves you to determine your boss’ comfort level with the arrangement and establish a clear line of communication.
Both managers and employees alike can feel insecure when working at a distance, so communication must be clear and consistent. To be safe, over-communicating may not be a bad idea at first until you can establish the right working balance.
If you are working remotely, the expectation is that your time spent at “the office” is entirely dedicated to work. Whether it is fair or not, if you regularly show up late to meetings, the trust level may begin to deteriorate.
As mentioned above, some organizations feel insecure when allowing their employees to work remotely, so remote employees may be evaluated more strictly in some regards. Again, this is not a question of whether this is fair or not; this is an undeniable reality and one that you need to be aware of. So make sure to manage your time accordingly.
Set up an office
Your boss fully expects you to maintain a professional approach to your work at all times. To do so, set up a dedicated office in your home. Working from home does not mean that you can also balance your domestic life during work hours. If you are attending phone meetings, a screaming child or barking dog in the background does not reflect well on you. Also, taking phone calls from your car or the dressing room at the gym will not engender any goodwill from your boss.
Be visible (when possible)
Use video chat whenever possible. Not only does this reassure your boss that you are diligently performing your job, humans are generally more responsive and collaborative when they are able to communicate face to face. It is also vital for you to video chat with other members of the team regularly, as this will make you feel included and part of a larger team. In my experience, Having regular visual touchpoints can be extremely beneficial for morale, which, in turn, leads to increased productivity.
Don’t use the distance as an excuse
If at any point, you begin to find that working remotely is proving a challenge, you need to raise this with your boss immediately. As your manager is not physically present, he/she will not be aware if there are any issues. If a problem arises and you suggest that working remotely is to blame, your manager will not be very sympathetic – especially if it is not a new problem.
Remote employees are often held to a higher standard when it comes to ensuring that they do not allow their physical working conditions to become a hindrance to their productivity. As such, your boss will fully expect you to perform your job at 100% capacity unless you inform him/her otherwise.