How to work remotely -- successfully
There are many benefits to flexible work arrangements and not just for employees — people who have the opportunity to work remotely say they're less stressed, miss work less often, and can be more engaged and productive.
At Leidos, we've taken notice and have committed to offering more remote work opportunities. In fact, more than 4,000 of our employees already work remotely, and 300 of our open positions currently offer that option. These numbers have earned us a spot on three of FlexJob.com's lists: Fortune 500 Companies with Remote Jobs, 250 Companies with the Most Flexible Jobs, and DC-area companies that lead for flexible jobs.
But we don't just hire remote employees. We also aim to support them in their roles and unique circumstances. That's why Leidos has CORE (Collaborative Outreach with Remote and Embedded Employees), an employee resource group that strives to empower our virtual, embedded, and remote employees. CORE connects remote workers with one another, while also serving as a resource to communicate, escalate, and resolve any issues unique to remote employees. In this way, we show every employee, regardless of where they're located, that they're a valued member of our team.
In the spirit of offering support to our current and future remote employees, we've spoken with Adele Marlin, a 22-year Leidos veteran who, for the past 12 years, has worked remotely while managing a geographically-dispersed team. She kindly shared her advice on how to achieve success in a remote role.
3 self-management tips for remote workers
Some of the biggest struggles reported by remote workers are unplugging after work, effectively communicating and collaborating with colleagues, and avoiding distractions at home. Here are Marlin's tips for avoiding those pitfalls.
1. Designate a specific area for work. If working from home, set up a spot where you can consistently spend your working hours. This is a great way to help you mentally switch from home mode into work mode.
“A home office is the easiest way to separate yourself from the distractions of home, like housework and children," Marlin says.
2. Set consistent hours and let people know when you'll be available. Remote workers can better maintain balance when they manage others' expectations, especially when it comes to response times.
“Always be responsive while you're working, whether it's via IMs, texts, email, phone calls, or web conferences — whatever avenue works best," Marlin advises. “But know when to shut it down. When you're off, you're off. Don't work 24/7. Instead, create sustainable expectations because if you're no good to your family and your health, then you're no good for your company."
3. Stay on top of your workload. For some people it's harder to stay on task when no one is around to monitor their breaks or see what they're doing at any given moment.
“Set up reminders for yourself to ensure that you follow up and follow through. Schedule important tasks in your calendar, and even set alarms to keep your days on track," Marlin says. "Knowing how to effectively leverage technology is key when you work remotely."
Marlin also points out that it's better to prioritize your tasks and then err on the side of over-communicating. Acknowledge the information that you've received and then provide a timeline for when your colleagues can expect something to get done.
4 tips for managing remote teams
Every manager has to cover several fronts: quality output from their team, nurturing a positive team culture, and developing their employees, to name just a few. When a manager oversees a remote team, they must do all those things without regularly seeing their direct reports. So, they have to get creative, especially when their team members are spread across various locations. Having done just that for more than a decade, Marlin offers her best advice.
1. When holding regular team meetings, rotate facilitators. This not only holds everyone accountable, but also ensures everyone's voice gets heard.
“Each meeting a different team member has to contact each of their teammates to put together the agenda. They must be well-informed and ready to run the meeting," Marlin explains. “This is great both for establishing better connections among your team and for providing professional development opportunities."
2. Find ways for team members to connect in person. People often have a better chance of developing positive relationships and establishing trust when they've gotten to spend time together in person.
“Start budgeting for an all-hands get together. If that's not possible, consider whether there are regional areas to get a greater mass of employees together and then leverage conferencing technology to include everyone else," suggests Marlin.
3. Schedule regular one-on-one meetings. Designate a 30-minute time slot for each of your direct reports to personally touch base with you. This gives them focused time to catch up with you, escalate any issues or concerns, share their ideas, discuss their current workload, and even get some "water cooler" time to further your relationship.
“There is a comfort just in knowing there is a scheduled time where employee and manager can connect," Marlin says. “As your working relationship builds, you may find that you can reduce the frequency of these meetings with some of your employees."
4. Don't forget to recognize a job well-done. Whether via text message, during team calls, or sending an email in which you also copy upper-management, recognizing remote employees is a great way to show them how valuable their contributions are — something that may be more difficult for them to realize when they're not in a company office.
“Recognition can go a long way toward making remote workers feel like part of the bigger team," Marlin says.
If you work remotely or are simply hoping to land a remote role, we hope these tips will help you get the most out of your opportunity, whether it's with Leidos (check out our relevant open positions at Leidos) or elsewhere.