Thriving as a Remote Employee: The Keys to Success in a Digital World

The one thing that the Covid-19 pandemic has taught us all is that remote work is a reality and no longer an option. It’s expected that 74 percent of U.S. companies will offer hybrid work or will turn to remote in the future. As hybrid or remote work becomes a norm, it’s important to review its realities and pitfalls, and how remote employees can thrive while meeting the demands of the digital workplace.

Current State of Remote Work

A decade ago remote or hybrid work models were considered glamorous but no longer. Today, as many as 58 percent can work remotely, giving employers plenty of room to explore how they can adapt workflow, mode of work, and type of employees they want to keep. However, before they can dive deep into this there are some ground realities that they need to consider.

· Remote workers feel a social disconnect due to staying away from the office for a long time.

· They struggle with workflows and productivity, especially those who work in different time zones.

· There is an assumption that remote workers are always there and available for work.

· They are technology dependent to stay connected with the office.

· Some industries are not meant for remote work so forcing employees to adopt this mode of work undermines their productivity.

Given these challenges, let’s introduce measures for remote employees to succeed in the remote work landscape.

Empowering Remote Workers

Unlike in-office workers, remote employees are working independently, without peer support, or skill development opportunities. This rather puts them in a lonely spot. What companies can do is empower remote workers to take on courses, and certifications, or enroll in business college programs that will help them develop enhanced skills. Not only this but by investing in these learning and empowering opportunities, employers will benefit from their newly learned skills.

Developing Tech-Savviness

It’s given that working in today’s digital environment means the remote employee has to be tech-savvy. However, what we are talking about is beyond emails, WhatsApp, or Zoom meetings. What we are referring to is developing a tech-savvy attitude to discover, explore, and learn to use new collaborative, remote work, and communication tools that will help smoothen the workflow. Some of the frequently used tools by remote workers today include:

· Slack for collaboration

· Hive for project management

· Dialpad for video conferencing with AI capability

· TeamViewer for remote access

· Google Drive for storage and access

· Fyle for expense reporting

Of course, it’s up to the remote employee and the company to select the ones that make the most sense to them for both remote and in-house, and also to scale up as the company grows.

Clear Communication

One of the most challenging aspects of remote work is communication—to discuss, delegate, take instructions, deliver work, conduct meetings, etc. Despite working in a digital world, remote employees struggle with communication disruption due to the internet, telecommunication signals, background noises, technology breakdown, or sometimes as simple as no electricity. To survive these challenges, remote employees should be equipped with backups such as UPS (uninterrupted power supply), secondary internet lines, and creating a workspace away from disruptions.

Moreover, communication is even more important for remote employees because they have to compensate for their lack of physical presence. Devising a communication process flow that can be accessed anywhere, anytime, and sort of allow them to just “plug in” and continue from where they have left off (due to interruption).

Workflow and Collaboration

Regardless of the status, remote employees are part of the organization. You need to first learn about the existing workflow, process, and collaboration model. Exploring the chain of command, delegation, and reporting requirements will not only allow you to understand the organization you work for but also enable you to collaborate effectively.

Since organizational workflows are dynamic, there is no one way that fits all. However, to thrive as a remote employee what the company and the individual can do is establish routines, check-ins, cues, and if possible, assign a “buddy” in the office who can be the go-to person that the remote employee can connect with in case of feeling lost due to the digital space.
Work-Life Balance

One of the biggest complains that remote employees report is the lack of work-life balance. It’s a common assumption that if the employee is working from home then they are always there and available on call, tag, or message for work-related issues. Despite off hours, they are expected to report and deliver ad hoc requests which in-office employees don’t do. This not only disrupts work-life balance but also increases the stress levels for remote employees. There should be clear demarcation and off-time, and if the company doesn’t have one, the remote employee should make it clear when it’s their off-time.

Measures to Boost Productivity

At the end of the day, whether one is a remote employee or an in-office one, productivity and the deliverables are all that matters for the company. So, remote employees too, need to devise ways that will help them boost productivity. Here are some suggestions:

· Create a peaceful workspace that is free from disturbance

· Make it clear to friends and relatives to respect office hours

· Take breaks in between like lunch, coffee, or exercise breaks

· Talk to friends or colleagues on off-work topics to sustain social connection

· Go on vacation when it is due, and do not mix it with work

From the company side, some of the measures that will help your remote employees improve productivity is develop empowering ways to connect with the organization—make them part of celebrations, team activities, reward recognition, and perks.

Adaptability is the Key to Success

Finally, to succeed in remote work, adaptability is the key. Considering the digital world is changing at a fast speed, remote employers and employees both need to keep track of developments in this landscape. Whether it is learning new skills, or adopting new technology or tool for better collaboration, one must be ready to jump onto the new bandwagon. While there is much scope to improve the remote work environment, it is established that this mode of work will stay so it is better to adapt and thrive now.

Author Bio

Alex Morgan is a digital marketer and community hero for Business School Hub. He loves writing about advice on education, careers, and college live. His pet cockatoo Mario is an enthusiastic prompter when he is writing for his readers. Reach out to him via email.

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