How To Demonstrate Your Productivity When Working Remotely

I’ve been thinking a lot about remote work lately. Not only because of the coronavirus, and not only because I’ve been working from home since 2008, but because my new book “Managing Remote Staff: Capitalize on Work-from-Home Productivity” was released by Self-Counsel Press, a publisher I’ve written a number of books for.

I received a lot of input for the book from both those who manage remote staff and those who work remotely. Some have been doing this for a number of years; others only since the pandemic emerged and changed the work landscape forever. Companies have historically been hesitant to allow employees to work from locations other than their official workplaces. This is true for a variety of reasons, many revolving around trust, concerns about communication, and the ubiquitous concern managers have of being able to successfully manage employees when they are “out of sight, out of mind.”

The Onus is On Remote Workers

For those employees hoping to continue working remotely after virus concerns have subsided, it’s important to ensure that they’re sending strong messages to their managers and organizational leaders that they’ve been able to be as, if not more, productive than they had in the past. That’s true for many workers and, increasingly, companies are coming to realize this. Some, like tech giants Google, Twitter, Facebook, and others have already announced that they play to continue to offer remote work options to employees indefinitely.

To avoid the potential for being “out of sight and out of mind” while working remotely, not only to demonstrate productivity but also to remain visible and top-of-mind for promotions or appointments to special projects/teams, it’s important for remote workers to be proactive.

But Managers Need to Manage Differently, Too

Managers have some skin in the game too, of course. All work should always be evaluated based on output/deliverables, but that’s even more apparent with remote work. Supervisors, managers, and their staff members need to quantify what the deliverables are and how employees will be evaluated. Not all managers/supervisors do that, though — or do it effectively — so employees need to be proactive in terms of demonstrating the value they provide.

How to Send Ongoing Signals of Productivity

There are a number of specific steps remote workers can take to successfully signal to their employers that they are being productive. For example:
  • Quantify what your output is/should be and how your work should be evaluated based on quantitative factors. These factors might include actual output (e.g. number of media placements made for a PR coordinator) or the evaluation of that output by important audiences (e.g. customers/clients).
  • Report regularly on progress and milestones. This can be done through virtual meetings, reports, or project management tools.
  • Be accessible. It may seem like a simple thing, but if you’re not responsive to emails, don’t pick up the phone when you get a call, or respond quickly to text messages, it’s understandable that your manager and/or colleagues would begin to question whether you’re really on the job. Responsiveness is critical. Set timelines for yourself if your manager/company doesn’t already do that – e.g. respond w/in one hour to emails and other messages; pick up 80% of incoming phone calls, etc.
  • Be visible. Chances are your company will have various types of meetings taking place virtually and you should be sure to participate actively in these, but don’t hesitate to initiate your own. This is a great way to remain visible and to demonstrate value. For instance, you might set up a casual biweekly call where you and your colleagues share best practices for remaining productive, or monthly calls to debrief on specific projects and share lessons learned.
  • Reach out to connect with and offer assistance to your colleagues regularly. This not only helps to maintain awareness, but also boosts the odds that others will be talking bout the positive contributions that you make to the department, division and organization.
  • Don’t be afraid to share your successes; if you get a positive email from a colleague, customer or client related to something you’ve done share it with your manager as a quick FYI – “just wanted you to know what Chris really appreciated the work we did on XYZ.”
  • Keep a continual record/compilation of your activities/outcomes/milestones that you can turn to when it’s time for your annual review/evaluation – the more specific you can be about your contributions by pointing to actual tasks and related outcomes, the more clearly you can convey your value.

Remote work is here to say. If you’re one of the many people who are hoping they’ll be able to continue working remotely, even after COVID-19 concerns subside, the above tips can help you establish a reputation for peak productivity with minimal supervision.

About Us

Strategic Communications, LLC, works with B2B clients to help them achieve their goals through effective content marketing and management with both internal and external audiences. We work with clients to plan, create, and publish high-quality, unique content. Whether on- or offline, or both, we’ll help you achieve your desired results.

(Strategic Communications is certified as a Woman-Owned Business Enterprise through the Wisconsin Department of Administration.)

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