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Holding yourself accountable when working remotely

Here’s how you can keep yourself productive during these crazy times…

Well, I think it’s obvious why I’m writing this blogpost. Let’s just say that a particular pandemic created a whole new wave of remote workers, and most of them find themselves in a brand-new working situation. I’m one of these cases. I’ve had worked a couple of times remotely in the past, maybe for a couple of days to perhaps a full week each time, but it was never more than that. And if I’m being honest, during that time working remotely, I would have to say that I didn’t exactly do a fantastic job. Don’t get me wrong, I got the work done, but procrastination and inefficiency took over my life during those days. Looking back, my biggest issue was not making myself properly accountable for my own work when working from home.

With these recent developments and dark times ahead, I now find myself having another opportunity to give remote work a proper try. Well, it’s not exactly like I have a choice in the matter (#StayHome). So come with me on this journey as I try to figure out how to properly work remotely and ways to make myself accountable while ignoring the sofa that is so damn close to me.


Don’t put too much pressure on yourself

If this is your first time working remotely, my best advice right now is for you to not put too much pressure on yourself. It’s only natural that it will take some time to get adjusted and make out how to work in this new setting. You need to figure out a comfortable working system and establish a proper routine first before you even start thinking about any type of accountability. This environment change (and current events) is already stressful enough as it is, and trying to be efficient straight away is not realistic, and it can even be counterproductive.

It’s all about planning

I think this is a pretty basic tip, and that’s why it’s the perfect place to start (well, after the who not stressing out tip before this). Once you get your remote work environment set up, the last thing you need is for you to then feel lost and overwhelmed with all your tasks.

Planning your days and weeks is more essential now than ever before. When you write down everything you want to accomplish, it can help you feel more organized and focused. And when you check something out of your list, you’ll have a sense of gratification and feel motivated to keep going. You’ll feel like you are making progress, and that you are actually managing your work remotely. Whether you work remotely or not, planning and setting goals not only gives you a purpose, but it’s the easiest way for you to measure your accountability.

It’s very possible that your company already has some sort of shared project management system that can be accessed from any location and share across team members. Now, these systems are crucial for teams to work remotely, and you should take full advantage of them for all your work planning. And don’t be shy or afraid to share your daily plan with the rest of your team. The fact that you are putting it out in the open and be transparent will only give you that extra push to be productive and follow your plan — even if no one checks it.

Becoming your own manager

Congratulations! I don’t know if you are aware or not, but you have been promoted to manager, and your team consists solely of one person: you.

While working remotely, you need to review your own performance regularly, just like a manager would do. Reflect on how productive you have been, what areas you are falling short, and how you can improve in the future. This exercise creates discipline and, of course, accountability. A manager’s job is to hold their team accountable, and so, by managing yourself, you do a better job of making yourself accountable. Not only that but when you review your performance and see your own accomplishments, you’ll have a sense of empowerment that will serve as motivation to continue.

Communication is key

While you are working remotely, you need to have open and direct communication channels with your peers. And a great way to remain accountable to yourself is to stay accountable with a supervisor, which it’s all done by communication. Keep in mind the communication that I’m referring to is not meetings with your boss (unfortunately, those still happen regardless of working setting). This is about setting up regular check-ins with your employer about your work.

When a new project is assigned to you, ask for as much specific information as you can. Be specific and try to cover all the details of the project, from deliverables to deadlines. You can agree on sending in a daily or weekly list of accomplishments and updates on the project. And most important, don’t be afraid to ask questions to avoid any misunderstandings that can lead to stress and frustration. Communicating remotely is already a challenge, so don’t be scared to set up a video-call or send a simple slack message to get the conversation started.

Communication is about being proactive, keeping your employer up-to-date, and showing that you are accountable for your work. It’s important to note that it’s not micro-managing, and you shouldn’t slack your boss every time you finish the smallest task. Communication in the workplace should never be used as a disruptive medium to your boss or any fellow colleague, as they have their own work that requires focus. Communication should be used to build trust and establish credibility, to ultimately make yourself accountable while working remotely.

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