If you aren’t a remote worker right now, chances are, you might be in the future. A new study by the work lifestyle company Flex Strategy Group and Quest Diagnostics found that 31 percent of full-time employees in the U.S. (about 8 million people) do most of their work from a location other than their employer’s site. Though many workers romanticize about working from home, it’s much harder than it seems.
I spent four years working remotely and ended up renting office space because it was getting in the way of real human interaction. They don’t teach you in college how to work remotely or manage remote workers, but it’s an important skill in the 21st century. With technologies like Skype, Basecamp and Google Apps, it no longer matters where and when you do work — only that you get results that benefit your company. I spoke with Cali Williams Yost, founder of Flex Strategy Group, to get her tips for remote workers.
Know your boundaries
When you aren’t working in an office, it’s hard to balance your work and life because you aren’t clocked in. It’s up to you to set time aside to do personal things that matter to you. “Make it part of your routine to sit down for 20 minutes each week and review what you need to get done and want to get done on the job, with your career and in your personal life,” Yost recommends.
Identify actionsand priorities
As a remote worker, you need to take the initiative to manage yourself instead of relying on your boss to do it for you. “Identify the small, meaningful actions and priorities that will help you be your best, at work and in your personal life, for the next seven days, whether its completing an important project, getting enough sleep or eating healthy meals,” Yost suggests.
Give statusupdates regularly
One of the biggest concerns managers have with remote workers is that they might be distracted. Your manager will trust you if you make sure he or she is aware that you are constantly doing work and exceeding expectations. “Every week send your manager a quick ‘highlights’ list of accomplishments,” says Yost.
Show that mug once in a while
Face-time is still the best way to build relationships with the people you work with. “Make it a point to go into your employer’s workplace regularly,” says Yost. Nothing will replace in-person visits where people can get to know you on a personal level.
—Dan Schawbel is a workplace expert, keynote speaker, and author of the New York Times best-selling book,Promote Yourself: The New Rules For Career Success.