As millions of workers are mandated to work from home, NOW is the time to show your managers that you can excel in your new environment. Be twice as communicative, focused, and aggressive. Show your colleagues and bosses that you actually perform BETTER working at home.
Our country is going through a giant experiment with teleworking. Managers across the nation are looking to see if working from home can be a successful way of getting things done. Even the fustiest managers who swear by “face time” are having to give working from home a chance.
Don’t mess this up.
If you have a day job but really want to start a second career – here is your chance. You need to CRUSH working from home. Earn the respect from your managers and peers. Show them it doesn’t matter where you are located. Because when the time comes to reconvene at your office, you will have demonstrated that you are trustworthy. That is, your manager can trust you when you’re not working on the premises. That’s when you say something like this:
“Remember when we all had to work from home? I got twice as much done. I’d like to work from home a couple days every quarter.” And then show them the data and metrics (see below).
If your manager is the least bit rational, he or she may grant your request. You may be able to turn the current situation into a permanent one: working from home once a quarter, month, or week. Instead of spending your time commuting or partaking in office chitchat, you can invest in developing your second career.
4 Tips on DOMINATING Working from Home
- Write a regular status report – The military uses a status report known as a SITREP or Situation Report that summarizes the key activities and priorities of a command. Every SITREP begins with a bottom line that is the primary takeaway of the message. You can write a similar type of report for your manager and colleagues. While you’re working from home, write a recurring SITREP that shares your overall progress. Then give key points as to what you’ve accomplished. It’s important to make your SITREP regular, say weekly or even daily, so that your manager is ALWAYS in the loop. They shouldn’t be left guessing about what you’re doing. You need to be in your manager’s inbox early and often – a reminder to let them know “Hey, I’m here. And I am working my you-know-what off!” Just as you need to have good “optics” working in the office (nicely dressed, working at your desk), you should also demonstrate good optics working at home. Writing a regular report is one of the best ways of exhibiting good optics.
- Track and Share Metrics – Every SITREP should have metrics that track your success and productivity. It’s hard to deny cold hard numbers, and this is what you’ll use to ask for more work from home time in the future. If you work in sales, you could report the number of prospects, leads, contracts. For example — Bottom Line: I closed 10 leads today, which is a 20 percent increase over last week. This will help us exceed our quarterly goal. If you don’t work in a group in which metrics are easy to track, then create metrics of your own! You could track the number of emails you sent, percent complete a task is, and how many man hours were put in a meeting. The key is to boil down what you do into data and then DRIVE those numbers up when you’re working from home.
- Quick response times – Many managers are nervous about work from home arrangements because they don’t trust their employees. Maybe they think workers will be watching The Irishman on Netflix or shopping for organic hand sanitizer spray on Amazon. You can allay this concern by responding instantly to your manager. I know people who assign a special ringtone for calls from their manager (or assign a unique color to the flashing light on their smart phones). When I worked in banking, I treated an email from my manager like it was from the Almighty. I would stop whatever I was doing (getting a haircut, attending a wedding, in the middle of a music gig – yes seriously) and respond. When your manager knows that you are available, they will be at ease. While you’re at home over the next few days, be proactive and CALL your manager and ask about their work AND their families. Show that working from home doesn’t diminish your responsiveness let alone your empathy.
- Keep to a schedule – Structure your days. When you work from home, it’s easy to sleep in later and let things drift. It’s important that you have a regular routine so that you move through your tasks with diligence and briskness. Before you go to sleep, check your calendar for the next day and week so you know what’s coming.
Start Your Second Career: A Personal Example
I can’t stand face time. When I worked in banking, I made it a point to be even more communicative after hours and on the weekends. I eventually earned myself enough freedom to skip certain meetings. But you know what didn’t suffer? My performance. In fact, I grew revenues because I was more economical with my time. I focused on the tasks that NEEDED to get done.
And what did I do with my free time?
I wrote a book. Actually, I wrote five books while I worked in banking. I spent nights researching and writing. I knew that I would eventually leave my day job and that I would no longer have a business card that had the name of a prestigious bank. Instead, I wanted to “write” my own business card, in the form of a book, which detailed what I had learned working in finance. And indeed, I wrote the New York Times bestselling Coined: The Rich Life of Money and How Its History Has Shaped Us.
[While on a business trip in Japan, I spent the weekend going to the currency museum in Tokyo, where I researched for my book]
My point here is that when you work from home, you’ll be saving time on your commute and sitting through unnecessary meetings. Do something with this time. Invest it in your curiosities and passions. Build your second careers. Get something else going in your life besides your 9 to 5. Because when the time comes to leave your current job, you’ll have something else to fall back on. Not only that. You may have a second career that sets your heart aflame.
A Final Word
This is an unprecedented and consequential time in our country and your career. If you’re looking for another vocation, you’ll probably require more time. Dominate the next few days and weeks while you’re working from home. And put yourself in a position (and arm yourself with the data) to change more than just your workplace – but your life.
Kabir Sehgal is a New York Times bestselling author of fourteen books, Multi-Grammy Award winning producer, US Navy Veteran, CNBC Contributor, and ex vice president at J.P. Morgan & First Data Corporation. He was selected as a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum. Learn more about him at his website and follow him on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook.