// 12 mins read
As our country continues to struggle with COVID-19, the concept of remote work is shifting from a temporary crisis response to a lasting reality. Whether you’re loving the WFH life or you really miss the energy of a buzzing office, it’s time to start thinking long term about growing your career.
When quarantine hit in mid-March, ThreeSixtyEight rapidly shifted to 100% remote work. And we felt lucky to make that transition pretty seamless. For the first month or so, the name of the game was surviving. I think that’s a time we’ll all remember–adjusting to a new world order all at once.
Survival was, and is, important. Morning routines, work-life balance, productivity management, and mental health are all important aspects of the conversations surrounding WFH. But as the world sorts through redefining our future, we must also find our sea legs and refocus on the goals and aspirations we may have put on hold.
While the world may feel on pause, your career is not. Use this guide to thrive in your career and create a positive impact on your team.
Hi! My name is Tara. At this point, you might be wondering why I’m writing on this topic. How could she possibly have this figured out already? And that’s a damn good question. I’m sharing my experiences and insights from the nearly-two years I’ve spent working 100% remote for ThreeSixtyEight from my home base 1,200 miles from HQ.
After three years of living and working from Baton Rouge, I made the move to Colorado to follow my passion for the great outdoors. I feel lucky for this opportunity to have my cake and eat it too–doing work I love every day with the best team while surrounding myself with an environment that fuels me. But it’s also come with a unique set of challenges. My top concern was maintaining influence as a leader among the team from a remote location.
Two years later, through lots of hard work and a wild ride, I’m proud to say I’ve grown my role from senior strategist to our company’s first Director of Strategy. Now, I’m excited to share some of the practices that have gotten me here and helped our team continue to create mind-blowing work through the pressure test that is 2020.
This may feel like a no-brainer, but it’s all too easy to fall into habits of working independently and only reaching out when you need something from a colleague, especially if your role doesn’t call for frequent collaboration. You may feel isolated or find you’ve lost touch with the cadence of your company’s other teams.
In a remote setting, we must make communication a daily habit with two goals in mind:
- Get the contextual information you need to do your job well. Go out and seek it; don’t just sit back and lament isolation. Among our team, this looks like staying in the know about projects that aren’t currently on your desk instead of waiting for tasks to be handed down. Forming habits focused on proactive communication builds trust and confidence.
- Be your own advocate. Many people see their productivity boosted in a remote setting, yet they are recognized less for their contributions. It’s not obvious to your team and your managers when you are putting in that extra effort or facing challenges. When you log off a video chat still confused, no one can catch you for further clarification on your way back to your desk.
Though it may feel uncomfortable at first, share your personal wins and challenges regularly with your team, and ask that they do the same. Everyone will benefit from the visibility and camaraderie.
2: Make space for creativity and collaboration.
Yeah, this one is hard. That’s why it matters. Working from home does not mean working in a vacuum. It also doesn’t mean working nose-to-the-grindstone from dawn to dusk.
Instead, we must all be intentional with how we plan our time to make space how and where we need it. This looks like paying attention to when you work best, mapping out your time accordingly, and setting daily goals. If you focus best in the morning, block that time for independent work and save meetings for the afternoons. If you need time to “wake up” and get in your groove, don’t plan creative concepting for 9 am. Instead, focus on rote tasks like reporting, answering emails, scheduling, or whatever that looks like in your role.
However you do it, make sure you make time to free your brain. It’s easy to jump from meeting to task to meeting without a break. But your brain needs space to digest thoughts, identify trends, build plans, and solve problems.
Make sure you’re reserving time in your day to pause, clear your mind, and reflect. Step away from your desk and take advantage of your favorite WFH perk–read an article, cook lunch, jump in a midday shower, jam on your instrument, walk your dog, the list goes on. This may not feel like tangible work, but clearing some headspace makes room for new ideas to emerge.
Alongside taking time for yourself, be a leader in proactively creating opportunities for collaboration. Just as you would pop by someone’s desk, pop into their DMs and request their feedback. A simple ask is usually all it takes to get eyes on your work or toss around a new idea.
Photo: Sneak peek into my workspace. My office mate and I clear our minds with a few throws of the frisbee in our back yard. 😉
3: Invest time savings in yourself and your team.
As a team, we all bring unique skills and experiences to the table. Our work is best when it’s the sum of the whole, when everyone is creating at their best. It’s up to each of us to be a positive part of that growth.
With the time you save from skipping the commute and other WFH efficiencies, find opportunities to learn something new every day. Maybe that means joining a new online course, participating in webinars, or simply spending time reading industry newsletters that you used to delete from your inbox every day.
Then, build on that effort by teaching your team and your clients. Sharing your learnings, show others how you think, and help them identify new perspectives and practices for their own self-improvement.
When you own the role of thought leadership in your team, you become a trusted resource colleagues turn to for help and answers. Making this mindset a habit radiates outward until your managers and clients are seeking YOUR input to solve their toughest challenges. Use this to your advantage to unlock opportunities for advancement and become a positive force in the growth of your team.
To-do: Adopt these three habits to advance your remote career.
- Overcommunicate with your team to build trust. Share updates, ask questions, be attentive, and share wins.
- Optimize your energy for creativity. Schedule space for thinking and seek out collaboration.
- Reserve time for learning, but more importantly, share your knowledge with others. Become the go-to for your expertise and problem-solving skills.
Whether you plan to remain working remotely for the foreseeable future or you’re counting down the days until you can return to your office, don’t let your career advancement sit on pause. Take action today to build habits that will pay off no matter what tomorrow holds.