How to Impress Your Boss When You Sit in a Remote Office
It’s a tough task impressing your boss when he or she is sitting in an office cubicle a few metres away from you. Now imagine trying to impress your boss when he or she is working hundreds of miles away. As the COVID-19 pandemic disrupts the way we used to work, working from home has become the new normal. In Asia for example, working professionals have mostly been operating from home for months on end due to safe distancing. This new working arrangement is here to stay: major firms, such as Facebook, Twitter and Shopify, are now planning a permanent shift to remote working. For instance, Twitter has given the go-ahead for its employees to work from home “forever” and Shopify’s CEO said that “office centricity is over”.
Implement Regular Touchpoints
According to Evelyn Stier, Head of IT Excellence Asia, Pacific Middle East and Africa at Siemens in her Tigerhall podcast, touchpoints in the form of weekly or biweekly 30-minute virtual meetings are a must-have. If you are feeling isolated, that’s likely because you lack these regular touchpoints to communicate with your boss. Reach out to your in-country disciplinary manager to diplomatically bring that message across to your functional manager. Otherwise, drop an email to your superior to arrange for a meeting by accommodating his or her schedule.
Once you have those meetings set up, come prepared. Speak about how you are doing, what you have learnt and which personal developmental areas you intend to work on going forward. If you are overloaded with work, do also take this opportunity to let your boss know. Sometimes your boss might not be aware that he or she is overloading you with assignments, as you are not working physically alongside him or her. Also, seek clarification for work-related matters.
Additionally, strive not to leave your colleagues out of the discussion. They are also key to making your voice heard at work. Be resourceful and build a network around the globe or the region, especially if you’re working in a multinational company. There’s usually a wealth of experience available if your company has an internal social media platform. Social media is also a great platform for you to be connected across different locations and with your team. An example of a company that has leveraged social media is IBM, which has more than 42% of its 400,000 employees working remotely at least part of the time. The multinational technology company soon found out that each social media tool serves its own distinct purpose, with wikis fostering collaboration amongst employees and microblogs encouraging casual conversation.
Use Digital Tools to Your Advantage
Besides establishing touchpoints, it’s also crucial to use digital tools to allow your presence to be acutely felt by your boss. Organisational behaviour professor Andy Molinsky recommends seeing virtual meetings as “an entirely different context, not simply an in-person meeting or class on a screen.” At the very least, turn on your camera when sitting in a virtual meeting. And as uncomfortable as it may be, look directly into your camera and not at your screen.
Also, try to speak up and allow your boss to hear the motivation in your voice. If need be, use an external microphone so that your voice can be crisp and clear. Keep hearing the echoes of your voice? You might not be surprised to know that interruptions are the top challenge remote workers face during remote working. Debug your virtual meeting software ahead of time.
In conclusion, remote working is here to stay given the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the public support in favour of it — eight in 10 employees in Singapore wish to continue working from home at least half the time or more after the Circuit Breaker. As times change, so must we. It’s time to adapt to the new normal and make your presence felt by your boss. You might have heard of the first half of the saying that absence makes the heart grow fonder, but you might not be aware of the second half.
The second half goes, “Presence makes the heart beat faster.”