1. Communicate well.
The key to making a manager comfortable is to communicate well. Determine which method of communication they prefer, in case an emergency pops up, and you do not have access to email. Also, determine how often they like to perform check-ins, and be detailed about how you’re progressing in the assignments they have vested interest in. Do not hide from your manager, just because you no longer have to see them in the office everyday. It will make them anxious and may prompt them to check-in on you more regularly. Remember to communicate well with your team members and other departments, too, not just your manager–otherwise, your manager will hear from it, and this will just cause him headaches! If you need tips for changing your communication style to be more effective online versus in person, try to get your coworkers better or pick up the phone to navigate tougher conversations and mitigate the risk of miscommunication.
2. Be consistent with your schedule.
You can no longer slink into your desk when you’ve showed up to work at 7:08AM, eight minutes past when you are normally scheduled to start. However, when you’re working from home, it may be tempting to sleep an extra hour, because you think your boss won’t notice or that it doesn’t matter as long as you’re completing your tasks on time. The truth is that managers, now more than ever, are concerned about their employees putting in the 40 hours required of them. Thanks to Skype Business, managers can track when you login, and it stresses them to watch employees like hawks.
If Billy and Yolanda were supposed to have logged in at 8AM and it’s now 9:47AM. Does he/she text them, or just wait until 10AM? Maybe it’s a personal matter, and he doesn’t want to appear insensitive. How much flexibility should he allow during coronavirus? Rule #1 to keep in mind is to not purposely make your boss’s job harder, especially when you’re trying to advance, so just be consistent. Showing up to work on time is an expectation managers still have, whether you’re working from home or not–unless you’ve agreed to something differently ahead of time on a specific week.
3. Show up to meetings on time.
You have cookies in the oven, kids in the bath, or needed some extra time to get your lipstick just right, and couldn’t quite log into that meeting on time. Or maybe your Outlook calendar didn’t give you the reminder notification as early as it should have. Whichever way you put it, it’s going to come across as “I meant to, BUT…” and that irritates people (not just managers), because it shows disrespect. It all boils down to you didn’t think it was an important enough meeting to show up early enough to avoid all the “issues” which supposedly caused you to be late in the first place.
4. Don’t make excuses.
If you forgot about a deadline, haven’t been contributing to a project as much as expected, or simply haven’t been yourself lately, take the time to figure it out and address it before your boss notices it and brings it up. Working from home is typically harder than it seems and if it’s been an adjustment for you but you’re afraid to admit it, you don’t have to tell your manager, but once it starts trickling into your work life and affecting your habits there, you’ll have to be upfront and not make excuses. But at the same time, don’t come up with random excuses so you can slack on your responsibilities (i.e. your dog stepped on your computer, your laptop charger got lost, you didn’t hear your alarm, you took a longer shower than expected) to not perform well or meet the standards of what is still a workplace environment–albeit a virtual one.
5. Minimize travel.
There are many companies who still have travel restrictions for their business areas unless a trip is deemed essential or critical to a program. However, there are employees who are working from home who have told their managers they will be moving back with their parents or closer to their real homes (rather than their rental apartments) in order to save money this year. Additionally, other employees may be opting to travel on road trips or domestic trips within the New England area if they have been forced to cancel more extravagant vacation plans for the year. The people who are still insisting that they will risk traveling whether it be on a cruise or to states where the coronavirus rates are high could cause tension or make it difficult for managers to track safety guidelines before and after they travel.
6. Be positive.
There are days when you may want to throw your computer out the window and just take a long bath before the work day is over, but just remember that in order to make the best out of your working from home experience, you have to do everything in your power to stay positive. Negativity spreads quickly, and when managers are doing everything possible to discover virtual team bonding activities, bad vibes are like poison to a team working from home. Encourage team members, thank other departments for answering your questions quickly, try to have patience with coworkers who do not share your perspective, and remember that at the end of the day we are all in this together trying to be optimistic and grateful to be healthy during pandemic times.