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If you’ve read any business headline recently you know: the future of work is here, and it’s starting with an ever-expanding remote workforce. The pros of being a remote worker have been talked about ad-nauseam: the convenience and flexibility, cost savings, positive environmental impact and productivity gained. But here’s what’s not talked about: with the exception of a fully remote workforce, being a successful remote worker is much more difficult than being successful as an in-office employee. While the tide is turning, there is a reason why the vast majority of the workforce still contends with their commutes and heads into an office most days. As someone who has been a remote employee and managed remote teams over the last 15 years, here is a roadmap for actually becoming a successful remote worker:

1. Over-communicate (and then communicate some more)

    There is no such thing as communicating too much when you work remotely. While I would never advocate for meetings just for the sake of meetings (a productivity killer if there ever was one) make sure that you have regularly scheduled 1:1s with your manager, skip level meetings with your functional leader, cross functional meetings with your counterparts, and catch-ups with your peers. Come prepared with a substantive agenda, but also with the intention to create your own “water cooler talk”. Like it or not, that is how information is shared, context around your business is learned, and connections are made. And often, it’s how visibility is ultimately gained.

    2. The channel matters

      Be available on every channel when you work remotely. Period. If you aren’t, people will second guess your whereabouts and that is the single fastest way to lose credibility as a remote employee. But on top of just being available, understand how best to use different channels of communication for different purposes. Communicating on chat and email are preferred for quick exchanges where context or nuance isn’t vital. For everything else, make sure you work for a company with a great business phone system and video conferencing solution. These are the tools you should use for your most important conversations: those that require creative iteration, group discussions, or even difficult exchanges.

      3. Constantly drive alignment around scope and expectations

        Subtle cues around your performance or expectations for your role can be missed if you’re not consistently face to face with your manager. Make sure you have the opportunity for these transparent and explicit conversations, and not just with the person directly managing you, but also with your group’s leader and your HR team. Ambiguity can be the downfall of many remote employees. A lack of clarity around your role or performance can make you anxious and your job untenable. For a remote employee, information is power, so be sure there is consensus around where you stand.

        4. Don’t have a champion? Get some (including yourself)

          Make it a point to find personal advocates at your company outside of your direct manager. Doing stretch projects for your executives, partnering with someone influential outside of your team on an assignment, or getting involved in special interest groups at work are just some ways to expand your network and gain visibility outside of your reporting structure. And don’t forget: the best advocate, and the single most informed person about your achievements, is you. If you’re not comfortable with evangelizing your contributions, they may be overlooked.

          5. Whenever there’s a chance for face time, take it:

            Being a remote employee is great, but there is a reason why face time still exists. So when there are opportunities to come into the office or join your team at an offsite event, take it. If your company doesn’t offer the chance for face time, push to create the opportunity yourself. You, and your team, will be glad that you did.

            6. Be available when others aren't

              If there was only one tip I would give, this would be it. Being a remote employee may sometimes mean you have fewer opportunities to stand out, but you have more agility and flexibility than anyone else on the team. Use it to your advantage. Be available and respond during off hours when it’s important and works with your schedule. I’m not suggesting that remote employees be on call 24/7, but be strategic about how you use your time. Check your email in the morning or in the evening when others are typically commuting, and if something needs doing, be the one to do it. You will literally be showing the business case for having remote employees, and you’ll be helping the team. This will help ensure your long term success and may just convince your organization to add more remote workers. And that's how remote work actually starts to work.