3 steps to working from home greatness
From our guest author Annyce Davis

Stop the madness!

Working from home allows me the opportunity to avoid the hellacious commuting that is often typical of major cities. For the past several years I have had the opportunity to work from home a few days per week at my various places of employment. Traffic in a city
Further, I feel that I am more productive on days that I work from home than when I come into the office because I’m not distracted by the many “goings-on” that take place there.

Don’t be out of sight and out of mind

With that being said, I did notice a point in my career where I felt that my contributions were being overlooked. Worse yet, sometimes it seemed as if others were questioning my commitment to the company. Essentially the old adage, “Out of sight, out of mind” was coming to haunt me. So what could I do? Well instead of just having a wait and see attitude, I took decisive action and within weeks noticed a difference in the way my manager and colleagues perceived my contributions. You can do the same!

So here we go…

Weekly Reports

In order to help my manager gain visibility into my activities during the week, I established a “Weekly Plan” and subsequent “Weekly Status” Report. Now I know what you’re thinking: “Who has time to prepare reports every week?!” You do. It’s really not as involved as you may think. Here’s a very simple format that I use:

The Weekly Plan

To: <your_manager’s email>
Subject: Weekly Plan – 08/10/15

Hi <Manager’s Name>,

Here is my plan for the week. Please let me know if there are any higher priority tasks that you would like me to look at instead of/in addition to the items listed below:

Item #1 – (link to task in Issue Tracker, if applicable)
Item #2 – (link to task in Issue Tracker, if applicable)
Item #3 – (link to task in Issue Tracker, if applicable)

Your Name

See, that was simple and fairly pain-free; now on to the “Weekly Status” Report:

Weekly Status Report

To: <your_manager’s email>
Subject: Re: Weekly Plan – 08/10/15

Hi <Manager’s Name>,

I completed the following items this week:

Item #1 – (link to results, if applicable)
Item #2 – (link to results, if applicable)

I encountered the following blockers:
Blocker #1 – (provide additional information)

Your Name

STEP 1: The Plan

Simple, right? So how do you use these templates? On Monday morning send out your plan. Then execute, attempt to accomplish all tasks on the list by the end of the week. So don’t be ambitious and load up your plan with too many items;-) Often times I complete more than what is listed in my weekly plan and that’s when the status report comes into play. On Friday afternoon send out your status report; let your manager see that you accomplished your goals for the week, mention any additional work you completed and also include any potential blockers that you encountered which may have slowed down your progress.

Now on to step two…

STEP 2: Stay Connected

Many companies take advantage of an online chat system these days. If you happen to be at such a company, use it to stay connected. I have worked at companies that use Google Hangouts, Skype, HipChat or even Slack to share instant messages throughout the day. Whatever the platform, if you’re on your computer working, you should be logged in. Even if your coworkers do not engage with you often, they do take note of your presence, or lack thereof.

Beyond being plugged in, another way you can stay connected is by scheduling a weekly meeting with your manager. You can use this time to catch up and make sure you align your priorities with the general direction of the company or team that you work with. This is also a great opportunity to share your career goals with your manager and solicit feedback on your progress.

And the final step…

STEP 3: Increase External Visibility

This may seem counter-intuitive, you want increased visibility at work so you go outside of work? Yes! You want to help build your credibility within your field and establish yourself as someone who is an expert in your space. Well how do you do it? You, start small. Begin to connect with a few of your coworkers on LinkedIn or Twitter. Then establish a pattern of posting industry related updates to your chosen network on a weekly basis. Once you have a healthy number of connections, you can move on to the next step.

Create a blog. There are endless numbers of blogs these days, so why not jump in the mix. A blog is a great way to begin crafting your “narrative”, who you are and what you know. Make it a goal to post something once a month and then of course share that content with your network.

If you have a little more time on your hands partner up with some coworkers and host/attend industry-related meetup events. This allows you to have face-to-face time with others centered around your field of expertise.

If you incorporate these three changes into your weekly routine you are well on your way to make working from home work for you!

Let me know how it goes => @brwngrldev (Twitter)

About the Author:

annyce davis
Annyce works as a Senior Software Engineer at The Washington Post. She has spent the past 4 years developing applications for the Android ecosystem across multiple form factors. She loves mobile development but enjoys the challenges that come with building database-backed web applications. She is active in the Washington, DC tech scene and assists with running a local meetup focused on innovation in the media industry.