There are passionate advocates for working remotely who will tell you about the many benefits of having been or being remote employees: less time and energy wasted commuting, more productivity, better breakfasts, better work/life balance, and so on. There are jobs and companies that are incompatible with working remotely, too. Many kinds of business need people in the same space together on a daily basis. Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer famously banned working from home in 2013 as part of her effort to reboot that company and its culture. Let's take those discussions as read and respected.
Here, I want to draw on my experience, successes, and failures to give you a few tips and tricks on surviving (and being effective!) as a remote and making yourself a valuable resource to your organization. A ten point list can't hope to be comprehensive; I'd love to see your tips, trick, and hear about your experiences in the comments here!
How to succeed as (or with) remote employees
I have been a remote employee at Acquia since 2008. More than 5 years into this, I can say being a remote employee is something of an art. Here are a few lessons I have learned. (There are more.) Obviously, your mileage may vary; every situation is different. Let me know what has worked or failed for you in the comments!
1. You need a team and manager willing to work with you remotely. This may sound banal, but if anyone on either end of this situation feels forced into it, things will be tough for you.
2. Be willing to learn new stuff. We still have plenty of colleagues who got started before all-pervasive communication, shared documents and files, VOIP/video chat/IM, and so on. If someone won't change and adapt to working with you remotely, ("I've always done this with an Excel spreadsheet"), you are going to have trouble succeeding. If you can win that person over by teaching them new skills and technologies, not only can you succeed at your job, you will probably win a strong ally at HQ, too!
3. Define success based on specific goals. Your manager must be willing to define your success by achievement of agreed goals. This is crucial, probably the single most important point here. Your success at your job cannot be defined by old measures like "eight hours on seat, typing".
- Define clear, measurable, (reasonable) goals for your job as part of your planning process with your manager. These could be quarterly KPIs on deliverables, number of tickets handled, calls made, and so on. It really depends on your job.
- Deliver on those goals and make sure that is recognized and acknowledged. Tip: Send an email summing up your completed deliverables for the week to your manager. A quick "Yes, thanks, got it all." from your manager on record obviates later discussion.