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Staying Connected While Working Remotely

Ask The Expert

By Barbara Mitchell

Q: I just received permission to work remotely one day a week, but I don't want to lose my connection to my coworkers. What can I do to stay close to my manager and team when I'm not in the office?

A: First off, congratulations! I find when I work remotely, I am at least twice as productive, so I hope it works well for you, too.

You raise a real concern that many of us have: how to stay connected when we're not all in the same place every day. Here are some tips for you.

On the days when you're not in the office, stay visible through email. You don't have to jump every time your email pings, but respond to messages in a timely manner. This keeps you on your team's radar and in the loop so you stay informed about what's going on at the office.

Consider setting a time to connect with your manager. This can be in the morning to discuss your plans for the day or perhaps at the end of the day to get updated on what happened in the office. Either way, you'll make your manager more comfortable and keep up your "facetime" remotely.

All you have to do is continue to do a great job every day, whether you're in the office or at home, and make a conscious effort to connect.

One of the great things about working from home is that you have long periods to concentrate on a writing project or a particularly difficult deliverable. So, if you're going to take the afternoon to write, set a recurring reminder to check email hourly so that your colleagues see that you're actively engaging with them.

When you get a call from a colleague, take it or return it as quickly as possible. Of course, there will be times during the day when you can't answer your phone, just as there are times when you're in the office and not available. If you get a voicemail, return the call within a reasonable timeframe.

Make good use of video technology. Since many organizations now have staffers scattered all over the country or even around the world, holding virtual meetings can be extremely productive. But if an important meeting is scheduled on your remote day, consider attending in person and teleworking another day that week.

If a social event is scheduled on your teleworking day, participate. For example, if there's a good-bye lunch scheduled for a colleague who is retiring, show up if you can. This will send a very clear message about your commitment to your team.

Your organization obviously trusts you—otherwise your supervisor wouldn't have extended this privilege to you. All you have to do is continue to do a great job every day, whether you're in the office or at home, and make a conscious effort to connect.

Barbara Mitchell is a human resources and management consultant and author of The Big Book of HR and The Essential Workplace Conflict Handbook. Do you have a question you'd like her to answer in "Ask the Expert"? Send it to [email protected]

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