5 Tips for Working Remotely—and Effectively
Stay on top of things and make an impact, even when you’re not in the office.
The way people (especially women) work is changing. We’re working smarter and allowing ourselves the flexibility to be successful without sacrificing our personal lives—often, that means working in a nontraditional environment. Here are our best tips for being impactful and efficient when working remotely.
The Skill Set: How to Work Remotely—and Effectively
1. Build a solid team on the ground
“Having a team in the office that's communicative and amenable to a remote setup is essential,” says Sarah Warren, our editorial director, who lives and works in New Mexico. “The women I work with do a great job at being inclusive. From calling when something big and unexpected happens, to FaceTiming me in to a birthday celebration in the conference room, we're very connected." Sarah’s team in the office acts as her eyes and ears. “I still get updates—even on trivial things—when I'm not physically present,” she says, "I never feel as though I'm out of the loop."
2. Schedule regular check-ins
Sarah has daily video touchbases with her team in the NYC office on Google Hangouts. Molly Fienning, who co-founded Babiators, lives in Charleston, and her company’s office is in Atlanta. “I have weekly check-ins with the head of each department,” she says. “They can use that hour with me to ask specific questions or share updates. Those catch-ups are non-negotiable.”
3. Set specific hours of availability
“When you’re remote, it’s essential that you're accessible,” says Sarah. “Your presence won't necessarily be seen, so it needs to be felt.” During work hours, she’s available throughout the day on G-chat for quick check-ins—it’s the remote equivalent of popping over to someone’s desk to ask a question. “Although I come to our New York office once a month, we joke that I’m more accessible when I’m in New Mexico, since I often spend the days in face-to-face meetings when I’m in the office.” Molly suggests designating a time block for every workday when your team knows you’re sitting at your computer. “Commit to being responsive during that window, so you don’t become a bottleneck,” she advises.
4. Sync up
“Technology has enabled us to work better, communicate better and be engaged remotely,” says Anna Auerbach, co-CEO of Werk—she and her partner, Annie Dean, work from New York and Las Vegas, respectively. They swear by Slack, Google Drive and Google Hangouts for sharing information and staying connected. “Anna and I share a to-do list so we both know what the other is working on,” says Annie. “We also share a calendar, which allows us to coordinate across our two time zones.” Organize your projects on Google Drive, so that you and your team can be working in the same documents simultaneously.
5. Be self-motivated
“The gig economy and subsequent remote workforce is the way of the future,” says Sarah, “but for companies to take the leap, it's essential that remote employees don't abuse the freedom.” She warns that you may need to work twice as hard to build your reputation and prove your trustworthiness, because you don't have the advantage of people seeing you put in the effort. “If you say you're going to do something, make sure you do it,” she advises, and adds that working remotely has actually made her incredibly effective and efficient. “I haven't had to sacrifice personal relationships with my team, but I'm not bombarded by unnecessary distractions, either,” she says. “I'm able to work faster and focus better as a result.”
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