As a remote worker, it isn’t always easy to show that you’re productive and invested in your job.
It’s not that your colleagues or manager are trying to assume the worst about you, but when they don’t see you every day, they just don’t have a ready image of you hard at work. (And if they’ve never worked remotely much themselves, it may be hard for them to picture what it looks like in practice.)
The truth is it’s up to you to show your boss how dedicated and effective you are—even if you’re sitting on your couch instead of in a cubicle nearby them.
If you think your boss may be questioning how you spend your work-from-home hours, here are some strategies to prove your productivity.
1. Be Reliable and Responsive
In an office, your boss can see, plain and clear, that you’re working away at your desk all day. When you’re at home, you can send the same message by being responsive and available online.
This means that you should be attentive to your phone, email, and instant messages throughout the day and that when you receive a request from your boss you respond as soon as possible. You don’t have to drop everything and tackle their request right away, but do respond quickly with a realistic timeframe of when that task will be complete. Many times a simple response—“I’ve received your email and this will be complete within the hour”—works great. Then make sure you follow through on that deadline.
2. Keep Updates to a Minimum
That said, don’t go overboard on the communication front. While you may think constantly updating your boss on what you’re doing and how projects are coming along is a great way to show you’re working, don’t do this. After all, your manager hired you to make decisions and get your work done, and if you’ve been given the green light to work remotely, you’re being trusted to manage your own time. Sending your boss hourly emails is unnecessary—and may even cause them to lose confidence in your ability to get the job done on your own.
Instead, meet with your boss periodically to ensure you’ve set clear expectations for your work, with hard deliverables and deadlines, and then follow through on them. Sure, occasional updates are necessary, but in general, let the real work speak for itself.
3. Be Present When You Get Face Time
One of the easiest ways to impress your boss and coworkers is to be extra engaged when you do get a chance to interact with them—namely, on the phone or during video chat meetings.
While it’s tempting to multitask (by checking your email or responding to that IM), you’re better off focusing only on the meeting at hand. If you’re paying attention, you’ll be able to ask questions, contribute ideas, and pick up on important bits of information—all things that help show you’re an engaged member of the team.
Also, try to “arrive” at meetings a few minutes early, as it’ll give you the chance to participate in the organic conversations that typically take place in person. This is your chance to ask what your colleagues are working on and share updates on all the work you’re doing, too. Plus, if you work remotely full time, the more your team gets to know you as a real person on the other end of that call or video chat, the more likely they are to give you the benefit of the doubt.
4. Don’t Pick Up Extra Tasks Just to Create Visibility
Offering to help with extra projects might seem like a great idea—you’re so productive that you have time to take on tons of extra work! But putting unnecessary tasks between you and your key goals may take away from your success. Best-case scenario, you may get everything done, but it may not be your best work. Worst-case scenario, you won’t be able to finish everything and your boss will begin to question your ability to see projects through.
Again, you’re being trusted to manage your time wisely, so be very selective about extra tasks and responsibilities you take on. If you really want to get involved with a project that’s outside the realm of your job, go for it, but talk to your boss about how you might adjust your workload to make room for it.
Proving your productivity when your boss can’t see you isn’t easy. But if you focus on deliverables, make yourself available and present, and work to build a relationship with your boss and coworkers, no one will question your productivity or commitment to getting the job done.