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Working Remotely? Here Are 4 Habits That Are Making Your Boss Doubt You

Originally posted on Forbes.

Working remotely sounded like a dream.  The perks of no more commute time, scheduling freedom and wearing pajamas were once beyond appealing.

And yet, these perks come at a cost. The truth is, holding yourself accountable and motivated to remain engaged at work is tough, and at times, it’s a struggle to remain professional. Nonetheless, if you want your boss to trust you with this responsibility, and you want to keep your job, you need to keep producing quality work, without getting too comfortable in your jammies.

Here are four mistakes you may be making that will set you on the fast track to looking unprofessional in your boss’s eyes, potentially putting your job in jeopardy.

1. You’re late for meetings.

Tardiness wasn’t great in the office, but it was more understandable, as you may have had to walk across campus between meetings, perhaps someone stopped you in the hallway to ask a question or a car accident caused a traffic delay.  When you are home, the expectation for promptness shifts. It’s a hard pill to swallow, but there isn’t really anywhere you could be to make you late.

Know this: a 2019 study found that tardy employees cost the American economy $3 billion dollars annually.  Those few minutes of being late to work or a meeting add up over time, especially when everyone does them. During a time when every minute and penny counts, don’t be the one showing up late on their dime.

Set alarms on your computer to go off ten minutes prior to each meeting call.  This way, you give yourself adequate time to prepare for the meeting or call, take a quick break to use the restroom or grab a snack and center yourself to call in. Part of this means knowing thyself. Do you tend to need that extra cup of coffee? Do you tend to need an extra bathroom break? Schedule from a place of reality, not optimism. As a career coach, I’ve found most that clients who are tardy often tend to be as such because they book meetings out of idealism, versus tuning in to what they need and scheduling accordingly.

2. You are inactive on your computer.

It’s a strange reality, but if you are using a work laptop or are connected to a corporate network, your employer can likely monitor your activity.  In fact, there are software programs that companies use to track keystrokes and online activity…  So needless to say, coming back to your computer every 30 minutes to move your mouse likely isn’t going to help you keep your job.

If you work for a company that utilizes communication software such as Zoom, understand that these features have monitoring features that can draw attention to whether you are actively engaged in the conversation.  For instance, Zoom screen-sharing features can track whether participants are focused on what is being shared.  Your manager will quickly know who’s engaged, and who isn’t by simply checking this tab on the app.  Zoom has lately been in the spotlight over their privacy features, so be sure to stay updated on what can and cannot be tracked.

The simple solution? Remove distractions from your environment, and know the triggers that are hurting your focus.  If you find yourself constantly scrolling social media instead of working, take the time to set limitations on the amount of time you can access these apps every day, or set your phone to grayscale to make the visuals less appealing. Is the TV blaring in the background while you work? Disconnect your cable during work hours.  Set yourself up for the results you want.

3. You keep your work progress to yourself.

Even if you are working very hard and staying on top of things, your manager isn’t easily privy to it, given that they cannot physically see you working in this remote setup. The last thing you want is for your manager to track you down and request updates.

Take ownership of your productivity and results by keeping your manager in the loop on what’s being done. Since there is a balance between under and over sharing what you do. Consider sending your manager a weekly email with updates on the tasks you completed or the metrics that matter most (leads generated, sales completed, manufacturing lots finished, etc.) When in doubt, don’t be afraid to ask your manager what would be most helpful, by saying something like:

“In an effort not to overload you with updates, I was curious… Is there a preferred method for me to keep updated on my projects and their status at work each week?”

This will position you as proactive and supportive towards your manager.  It is also a great way to take initiative and set up a system for everyone else on the team.

4. You show up unprofessionally.

Like it or not, appearance places a role in how others perceive you, even on a screen. The data is in and people with attractive and groomed appearances are perceived to be more trustworthycompetent and approachable.  If you call into every meeting with your pajamas, the TV booming and kids screaming, it’s going to make your boss wonder whether they can trust you to get work done. Chances are, you aren’t.

Turn to the small things to appear more professional.  I’m not saying you need to put on a full suit and complete an entire makeup reign.  Follow the basics. Commit to complete hygiene, and wear fresh clothing. A smile goes a long way, although these may be frustrating and stressful times. In fact, smiling actually releases the hormones dopamine and serotonin that create sensations of euphoria. When one individual smiles, it causes a chain reaction due to what is known as “sensorimotor simulation” in the brain.  When you smile, you cause others to smile back and release those same happy hormones. I

What once was the future of the workplace, has now become a living reality.  Remote work is here to stay for the foreseeable future, and if you want to thrive in this environment it’s time to do an audit on your professionalism.


Ashley Stahl helps job seekers find their purpose, land more job offers and launch their dream businesses. Sign up here for her free jumpstart course on how to land a new job you love.

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