And no one can see how truly impressive you are in your slippers.
The big issue for you is Presence.
Any leader needs to make their presence felt — in the room or from afar.
If you want to build credibility and influence you need to build up your personal presence. It’s harder as a remote employee, but not impossible, and even more important.
Face time first
Every time I have had a remote assignment or managed a remote employee I required a 2-4 week break-in period where the person begins the assingment in the office with the team.
If you “live” with people for awhile first, you’ll do MUCH better later.
You will build up some social comfort with each other, and then remote is not nearly as distant. I would not accept a remote assignment if this was not how it began.
If you are in the middle of the remote assignment, and you can get approval to work on site for 2-4 weeks, arrange it. It’s never too late. Your productivity forever after will increase.
In today’s economic climate, travel budgets are frozen so this is not posible. And many managers and employees who have come together because of re-orgs have never met. This is not ideal and it is hard.
If you can’t establish the face time, the ideas below are even more important.
Don’t Hide on Conference Calls
Don’t dial in 5 minutes late, do your email and not speak. Instead dial in 5 minutes early. Greet everyone who joins.
Tell them about the weather where you are at and what you have been working on. Learn about their life. Then don’t check out during the call.
Participate, interrupt, contribute. Make your presence felt.
Make people feel like you are “in it”.
I have to say that I am blown away by Skype video. I have clients around the world who I have never met, but after a hours of conversation with a webcam and skype video I feel like they are colleagues that I know personally.
Skype is really easy to set up, and it is free.
Just install your webcam, then install Skype. Then make a call and it just works.
Unfortunately many corporate firewalls do not allow Skype. If I were a remote employee, I would encourage all of my key colleagues and stakeholders to take a Skype call with me from home once in awhile (convenient in their time zone), so we could connect “in person”. It makes a huge difference.
(Skype is not paying me!)
Step forward when things need to get done. Take the lead. Put yourself in the center of a project even though you are not there.
Of course it needs to be something you can succeed at remotely, but don’t fail to ever take the lead just because you are remote.
If you want to be relevant — be relevant!
As a remote employee you miss the company lunches and the discussions around the coffee machine. But you don’t need to miss connecting with people. Identify people in the company you need to have a relationship with, and build a relationship with them.
You should spend at least an 2 hours a week (if not a bit more) just connecting and talking with people at your company. Live connections = presence.
Share photos with your colleagues. Enable them to remember what you look like. Where you have key relationships invite them to connect with you on Facebook. Keep yourself current and present in their thinking. Learn what they care about and enjoy. Contribute things of interest.
Share your ideas and knowledge
Write an internal blog. Become a thought leader in your area of expertise. Share interesting news that people at corporate don’t see. Seek out external information relevant to your business and be the one to share it. Have a point of view.
Just because you are remote, doesn’t mean you need to be invisible.