How to Thrive as a Remote Professional?

By Freelance Contributor | Strong Female Leaders

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How to thrive as a remote professional?
Because of the coronavirus (COVID19) outbreak, companies are instilling remote work for undefined periods of time. Remote work isn’t new to everyone, and has proven to increase productivity in some industries. According to a research by Prithwiraj Choudhury and colleagues of The Harvard Business School, “letting independent workers choose their locations can boost companies, employees, and even the economy.” The study showed that companies that allow their employees such flexibility have benefitted by seeing an increase in productivity, lowered turnover rate, and less organizational costs. Overall, companies with remote working arrangements, such as NASA and Github, gain an average of 4.4 percent more productivity.
"To thrive in a changing environment, the strong must adapt."
Remote work, however convenient, isn’t for everyone. Professionals with jobs that require less coordination with co-workers do better in a remote setup. Employees in project-based work environments, however, have varied results. These jobs require brainstorming, collaboration and in-person setup, and heavily depend on a robust and healthy team culture.

Whichever type of job you have, in order to slow the impact of the virus, you and your team must adapt to working remotely. Your schedule will pivot; the line between home and work lives will blur; and, you will run into challenging issues. Our tips below won’t resolve all of your issues, but can help you through the adjustment period.
1. Know that success is a mindset.
You can succeed anywhere, even in the comfort of your own home. If you do great work, carry a positive attitude, contribute to the team, is a valuable asset, and consistently "show up", your efforts will be noticed. Yes, being physically away from your team feels awkward and can arouse frustration, but it is your mindset that sets you up for success, or leads you to failure.
2. Set up a place to work.
Just because you are physically "free" does not mean that you can focus anywhere. In the kitchen with the rest of your family during lunch? Probably not a good idea. Even if you are home, you are still "on the clock". So behave like you are at work, and find a quiet area that you can be productive in.
3. Dress up.
Even if your workplace allows casual dress code, you still won't show up in pajamas. Each morning, dress up, do your hair, and wear appropriate makeup. Act as if you are going to the office. This will help you continue that "working girl" enthusiasm.
4. Get fast internet.
Slow connection speed causes frustration. During this tender time, when everyone's life is disrupted, the least you could do is to maintain normalcy with fast connection. What you want here is minimal setback. So err on the side of robustness by purchasing faster tools and upgrading networking plan. You might have to pay out of pocket, but please realize that in the digital age, you can't be a first-class professional on second-class technology.
5. Connect with your team members.
Instilling camaraderie in a remote team may sound like overkill, but it actually is necessary. Remote professionals often feel excluded; and with the entire team geographically dispersed, everyone feels isolated. Getting the team on the same page creates meaningful connections.

One effective method is to invite team members to watch the same TED talk, read and discuss the same article, or take the same online course. Another way is to inject non work-related ice breakers during virtual meetings. Or, host a virtual gaming session. These activities enable team members to collaborate and build trust in a relaxed setting.
6. Check in, check in, check in.
Check in with team members, work friends, mentors, clients, and everyone you can think of. Do it as often as you can, even if it's a 10-second IM conversation filled with emojis. Frequent check in's, no matter how tedious, strengthen relationships. They also minimize confusion in communication.
7. Establish and follow team norms.
Remote teams require different norms than in-person teams. Having an underlying process that everyone understands serves as a communication framework that mitigates future misunderstandings.

Some common team norms include how the team communicates, when to communicate, and who to include in meetings. Each team member operates differently. Having a solid framework helps move the team in forward momentum.
8. Specify intermediate milestones.
To make tracking a virtual team's progress easier, you can try crafting intermediate milestones, instead of depending on a gigantic end goal. To ensure accountability, add these milestones to a virtual team board that everyone can access. Using an online collaboration hub encourages accountability.
9. Remember to celebrate accomplishments.
Virtual teams have less opportunities to come together and celebrate their wins. In order to strengthen relationships and boost morale, it's important to celebrate even when team members work away from each other. You don't need to go all out. A simple email will do. Or, you can send everyone a gift card to their favorite vendor. The goal is to let team members feel appreciated. How you do it is less important.
Parting Words
As the coronavirus mutates, we must also learn to change our ways. It helps to accept the challenge of altering routines, and learn of new ways to work. Understanding and practicing new rules of engagement can only increase our skillsets and value. Even before the outbreak, work places are going remote. To thrive in a changing environment, the strong must adapt.

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