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Secrets to success as a new remote employee – Part 2: You make your own success

By Cathy Planchart, Senior Project Manager

As you’ll know if you read part 1 of this blog series, I recently transitioned from working in my local community of Hancock County, Maine, to working remotely with MKP communications inc., a company based in New York City. For the last 30 years, I have worked in traditional, in-person office environments where I had an office or cubicle and co-workers in close physical proximity. In this environment, it was easy to get facetime (note all lower case) with my manager, interact with co-workers on both personal and professional levels and lead meetings around conference room tables where every seat was filled.

So, how do you build relationships with co-workers when you work remotely? How do you make yourself stand out and get recognized for your good work?

I will be the first to admit that many of the ideas I share below are effective strategies for success in traditional, in-person office environments as well as remote work situations. However, as a remote employee I put more effort, focus and intention into doing these three things.

Building relationships with my co-workers

During my first week at MKP, I got some index cards and wrote each co-worker’s name on a separate card. As I learn something about them, I write it on their card. It might be their tenure with the company, their job title, where they went to college, what sports team they like, a hobby, the name of their spouse or dog, their favorite flower or food, etc. I listen during conversations and make notes.

Getting to know others on a personal level, and letting them get to know you, is how relationships are formed. In a traditional office environment, this can happen organically. In a remote setting, I feel it takes more effort. I use the information I gather to nurture and grow relationships with my co-workers and to ask questions (like, “how is your dog doing?”), which shows I take a genuine interest in them as individuals. The more you know about them, and the more they know about you, the stronger your connection will be.

Finding something to do when I have nothing to do

In any job, the workload ebbs and flows, especially in the early days as you move up the learning curve. Rather than folding the laundry, washing the dishes, or prepping the next meal (common distractions for remote employees), I try to find ways to add value to the company.

Here are four productive things I do when working from home, which help me stand out in a positive way and increase my own success and that of the company.

  1. I complete assignments on time or, better yet, deliver them early. The first few weeks at a new job provide the luxury of some free time on a soon-to-be crowded calendar, which allows me to focus my attention and dive into the work. This is an easy way to quickly impress my manager.
  2. I let my manager know when I have capacity (i.e., have nothing to do). This tactic has been very beneficial. I’ve gotten pulled into a new project, invited to participate in additional training and asked to write an entry for the company blog!
  3. I volunteer when someone needs help, or something needs to be done. Taking initiative is a positive trait many employers value. By offering to help, it also shows I am a team player.
  4. I read all kinds of stuff. Acquiring knowledge about the industry, company and co-workers will always pay off, in my opinion. Therefore, I read industry news publications, dig deep into the company website including reading old blog posts, re-review project documents, poke around on the company server to see what I can learn about work done in the past and learn more about my co-workers by reading their LinkedIn profiles.

Staying “LinkedIn”

Once my job search was over, I wanted to run, not walk, from LinkedIn. As we all know, those who are seeking employment and those networking for new business rely heavily on LinkedIn. However, once I landed my new (remote) job, I made sure to take the following actions to expand and enhance my relationships on LinkedIn.

  • Updated my work history to show how proud I am to be part of this new team.
  • Connected with my new co-workers. Once connected, I can view their network and see connections we have in common. I can also learn more about them and their background by reading their profile, and they can learn more about me.
  • “Followed” my new employer on LinkedIn (and other social media) if I didn’t already do that during the interview process.
  • Made a point to like, share and comment on the social media generated by the company. As we know, sharing is the most valuable action. But, before I share, I make the effort to include a comment about why I feel the content has value.
  • Took the time to post my own content on my feed, routinely. I like to choose something relevant to my new job and industry.

Building relationships, adding value to the company and acquiring and sharing information help me as a new remote employee stand out and get recognized. I believe these same strategies to be equally effective in traditional, in-person office environments as well.

Don’t forget to check out part 3 of this series: How to build the relationship you want (and need) with your manager.

MKP communications inc. is a New-York based marketing communications agency specializing in merger/change communications for the financial services industry.