The pandemic changed a lot of things for our society, and the way we work is near the top of that list. Suddenly, a vast number of Americans found themselves swapping their cubicles for their living rooms and downloading this newfangled software called “Zoom.” Workplace etiquette changed quickly. Some people even got a little too comfortable (I’m looking at you, Spiderman-pajama Bill). Most aspects of pandemic life are thankfully on the wane, but many companies are staying remote or offering hybrid options for their employees. While there are many wonderful things about this newfound ability to work from the comfort of our couches, there are also some not-so-great aspects of remote work that we’ve all got to contend with.
It’s hard enough to deal with office politics when you’re actually in the office, but that’s made even more difficult via Zoom. If you thought breakroom small talk was bad, try doing it over a computer. There are things you can do to try and build social bonds with your co-workers while working remotely (such as trivia, virtual coffee chats, or even getting off Zoom altogether and meeting up in person if they live near you). It’s great to have a good relationship with your colleagues, but most people’s top priority at work is impressing their boss, and that involves more than merely building a social bond.
After all, how exactly can your boss know that you’re dedicated and working hard when they can’t actually see you doing it? The lack of physical oversight with remote work means that you need to hold yourself more accountable and that can be difficult to do, especially if you have a lot going on at home and are easily distracted. But if you want to not only keep that remote job, but strengthen your professional relationships and lay the groundwork for a successful career, then you need to impress your boss. Here are some tips on how to do it, remotely.
1. Keep Your Camera On
Video calls are the only time your boss actually can see that you’re working, so make sure you go out of your way to show him or her that you take your job seriously. If cameras are optional, then turn yours on even if most other people don’t. When the camera is off, it’s easy to fake it. You can scroll Instagram, eat a snack, online shop – pretty much do anything except work. So turn the camera on and show your boss that you’re engaged. Chances are, she’s not the only one who will be impressed!
2. Dress Professionally for Every Meeting
Since you’re turning that camera on in order to show your professional bonafides, make sure you actually look professional. Well, half professional anyway. Unless you know you’ll need to stand up for some reason, you can go ahead and keep the pajama bottoms on, but make an effort to do your hair, swipe on a coat of mascara, and wear a nice top. Maintaining a professional look even while working at home helps people see your dedication and the fact that you’re in work mode. It’s one small way to prove to your boss that you take your job seriously and are putting in extra effort.
Maintaining a professional look even while working at home helps people see your dedication.
3. Show Up Early to Video Calls
This not only shows that you’re dedicated to your job and are on top of your schedule, but it also allows you to build more of a social bond with your co-workers, including your boss! People want to work with people that they like and bringing a positive attitude and friendly demeanor to the (virtual) office actually makes you more valuable as an employee. So show up early and if other people happen to be there a little early too, don’t just sit in awkward silence. Ask them a question!
4. Stay Connected Even When Working Independently
Even if you’re having a day where you need to keep your head down and get things done, stay in touch with your boss throughout the day so that they know that’s what you’re actually doing. If you don’t have much to say or any updates to provide yet, it can be as simple as a quick Slack or Teams message, like: “Hey, I’ve been knee deep in those reports for hours now but just wanted to check in! Anything you need help with right now?” Consistently checking in with your boss shows them that you care, you’re a team player, and that you’re actually doing your job.
5. Maintain Consistent Working Hours
Remote work allows a lot of people some much-needed flexibility. Now, parents can take 30 minutes to run and pick up the kids from school, then be right back at their desks for that 4:00 meeting. Flexibility is great, but some form of consistency is still necessary. No matter what schedule you have worked out with your boss, make sure you keep to that schedule. Be available when you say you’re going to be available and show your boss that you really appreciate the flexibility, but you’re not taking advantage of it.
Be available when you say you’re going to be available.
6. Always Answer Your Phone/Emails Promptly during Work Hours
It’s important to remember that even though you’re at home, you’re still at work. You’re getting paid to be there, so act like it! When you avoid calls and emails while you’re on the clock, it’s disrespectful to your employer and your boss is likely to notice. If it’s during work hours, then respond to requests as promptly as you can. Pro tip: working from home actually makes it even easier to go above and beyond! If you get a quick request at 5:30 and you’re still near your computer, put in a little extra effort after-hours. Your boss will remember things like that when it comes time for a promotion.
7. Don’t Procrastinate Your Assignments
There are distractions galore when you’re working from home. It might be tempting to watch Netflix or play with your dog or even do household chores instead of getting to work creating that Excel spreadsheet. If you’re already prone to procrastination, then the lack of oversight that comes along with working from home will likely exacerbate that issue, so do your best to prioritize and manage your time better. Meet your deadlines. If you want to keep having the luxury of being able to work from home, then prove to your boss that you’re able to do exemplary work even while remote.
8. Be Proactive!
Have an idea for a new initiative? Spot a small problem that could potentially snowball into a larger issue? Then speak up! Don’t sit around waiting for things to happen, make them happen. Get ahead of tomorrow’s work if you have extra time today. Being proactive shows your boss that you care deeply about the work you’re doing. If you didn’t, then you wouldn’t be thinking about the future and doing your best to make sure everything goes as smoothly as possible.
When it comes to impressing your boss, the same general rules apply even when you’re working remotely. Your boss wants to know that you care, so try to do one thing every day to show them just that. It doesn’t have to be a big thing either! Something as small as putting on a nice shirt or completing an assignment ahead of schedule can go a long way with your boss.
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