The modern office doesn’t always look like, well, an office.
NB Consulting has been working remotely since we were formed in 2006. Over time, we’ve found tried-and-true ways to being an effective remote worker—while remaining an essential member of the team. Read on for keys to becoming a remote workgroup rockstar.
- Backup Internet
Losing your internet connection temporarily cuts you off from your workgoup and it can be more common when working from home. It’s a good idea to have another means of connecting to the internet even if the bandwidth is lower. Check to see that your laptop can connect to a hotspot from your cellular service or purchase a USB or other alternate internet connection for your laptop.
- Technical connectivity on your own time
Smart remote consultants always ensure, in advance, that their personal laptops can connect to the client’s systems. Do your connectivity setup on your own time, outside of business calls and appointments. You’ll hit the ground running while respecting the client’s time.
Both PC and Mac are now used in the SAP industry. Mac’s connectivity has become much easier in the last 5 years and it is a viable option for your remote resources. As a consultant, your client may prefer to provide you with a laptop, and it may be either platform. Make yourself versatile and prepare for both platforms.
- Working along with virtual private networks (VPNs)
Clients frequently use a VPN from your machine. But the remote consultant often needs to do research online or contact a resource pool to answer the client’s questions. It is best when the VPN does not block a contractor from sending email, instant messages, or searching the web. Explaining this to the client early on can reduce surprises and help build a solution in advance.
- Stretching across time zones
Spanning multiple time zones is almost standard practice in consulting. Despite tight schedules, it’s still best practice for the consultant to be fully available to the client. Committing to working during their working hours shows dedication to the project and keeps you in their loop as a team member.
- Availability during working hours
Consideration of others’ schedules is always a priority. As a consultant, staying online during working hours and after hours, as needed, still counts. If you must be away for an appointment, always inform your client workgroup in advance of:
- The date and times you’ll be absent
- The calendar, if shared with client, to be updated
- An email and cell phone number where you can be reached
- Noise? What noise?
Working from home seems to require the impossible: a live-in workspace without the background noise of life. But home offices really can be much quieter with the cooperation of others living there. As a work-from-home consultant, you should remind those in your home:
- To be quiet if you are wearing your work headphones/headset
- To quietly check if your headset is on when they arrive at home
- That your headset can go on at a moment’s notice and all noise should then stop
- That as a consultant, you are working from home for at least 8 hours a day; matters outside of work must wait until afterwards
- Online meeting etiquette
Be available for any and all meetings. Sometimes customers call them at the shortest notice! Brush up on your professionalism (as needed) for remote meetings below. It’s probably one of the top keys to becoming a remote workgroup rockstar.
- Muting, Part 1: Mute yourself when not speaking. There is always background noise, even when your workspace is quiet.
- Muting, Part 2: Be aware when you are muted. Being reminded that “you’re on mute” by your customer more than once a week is a bad sign. They may wonder what else they are missing.
- Video: Before meetings, check the angle of the camera and the lighting to put your best non-zombie face forward. Make this effort to “show up” and look like a pleasant, approachable team member.
- Screen sharing: Make sure everything on your desktop is work related if you are going to show your screen. Keeping your screen uncluttered (and professional) helps everyone visually navigate.
- Vocal clarity: Make sure you have a high-quality headset. Splurge for a noise-canceling microphone and your workgroup will thank you.
- Punctuality: Meetings should be joined 5 to 10 minutes before they start where possible. It is easy to forget about a meeting when your head is down working in the detail. Get in the habit of arriving early—just so you don’t miss it entirely.
A dependable remote consultant is every workgroup’s dream. Become that essential ingredient and you’ll be the rock star team member that upgrades everyone’s work experience.