Working remotely, be it one or several days a week, is becoming standard for a growing number of creative professionals. According to a recent survey by The Creative Group, one-third of advertising and marketing executives report that the number of creative staff doing remote work is higher compared to three years ago. Only 4 percent said it was lower.
Saving money on gas, staying home when the weather is frightful, working in your sweats – what’s not to like about remote work? Well, for one, all that autonomy and physical distance can make it easier to lose focus, procrastinate, cast doubt on your dependability and possibly jeopardize the privilege altogether. And in terms of advancement within the company, it can be “out of sight, out of mind.”
5 Tips for Telecommuting
If you’re working remotely, here are five tips on how to be fully present even when you’re not physically present:
1. Be available. Give your boss, colleagues and clients multiple ways to get in touch. Email is the standard, but connecting via phone, Skype, online chat programs and other messaging tools can be more intimate and immediate. Take your smartphone off mute and keep chat windows open on your laptop. If you signal that you’re always available during normal business hours, you’re demonstrating reliability and a willingness to collaborate. When you inevitably miss a call or don’t see an IM right away, get back in touch as soon as you can.
2. Maximize technology. Another way to improve teamwork is to use a cloud service such as Dropbox, Basecamp or Google Docs. Being able to quickly and easily share files is a must for working remotely, as emailing multiple versions of huge files gets old fast. You may also lose track of which document is the latest version. If there’s a confidentiality issue, the company may want you to use its own internal file sharing service.
Being able to see colleagues’ screens also is important for creatives doing remote work. Google+ Hangouts allow users to collaborate on Google Docs in real time; Skype is another service that allows free screen sharing. Ask your IT team for recommendations, as your company may have already invested in software or subscribed to a provider.
3. Be prepared for tech issues. No one wants to hear that you missed a meeting or deadline because of “computer problems.” Get to know your company’s IT guru for help with teleconferencing, backing up information, getting software updates and other tech questions. If there is no IT team and you’re on your own, or if the company supports only one operating system and you work on another, scope out local service providers and keep their contact information handy.
4. Be steady, not sporadic. Try to maintain a fairly consistent schedule when working remotely. This way, your supervisor and colleagues will know when they can reasonably expect to reach you. It’s also important to let your manager and coworkers know when you will be unavailable by notifying them ahead of time and using your email’s out-of-office feature. And, if you work for a large organization with multiple sites, plan your day around the main office’s time zone or the consensus of the remote team.
5. Be there, physically. Even if you’re great at what you do and receive brilliant reviews, make sure you are visible and put in enough face time. If you’re working remotely in the same city as the main office, drop in as often as you can and attend as many company events as possible, even optional ones. When in-person or all-company meetings are called, arrange get-togethers before or afterward. Having regular coffee or lunch meetings with colleagues will help maintain healthy working relationships.
Telecommuting can lead to tremendous productivity, and greater overall job satisfaction. By remaining highly connected with your colleagues and supervisor when not physically present at the office, you increase your chances of being able to keep this perk – and not getting passed over for promotions or exciting projects and opportunities.
Want more career advice? Check out the career column in HOW Magazine. Subscribe for the latest career advice in this evolving industry. Digital subscriptions available for easy access wherever you go.