There are many perks of working remotely – but enhanced visibility isn’t one of them. You can work diligently all day, ploughing through your jobs and delivering all tasks on time, but without sitting in the same room as your colleagues, many people may not be aware of your efforts. “Out of sight, out of mind” rings sadly true for a lot of remote work, but it’s not insurmountable.
The rise in remote working as been met with a rise in technology specifically designed to keep remote collaboration transparent, and the asynchronous nature of remote communication strongly lends itself to company-wide transparency. To give you an idea, here are just four ways to keep remote work visible.
1. Track it
Tracking your remote work is perhaps the most obvious way to keep it visible. While this has traditionally been a frustrating and inefficient process, involving manual timers and note taking, these days it can all be done automatically. A good automatic time tracker will capture all the work you do in a day for you, down to the time you spend in individual tools. You can see how long tasks take, including all the internal communication and task management that go into them.
The most advanced time tracking tools further reduce any self-reporting admin by categorizing your work for you. Apps like Timely use AI to draft a daily time sheet from your automatically captured activity. Employees can review everything before making them publicly viewable to their team. As an added bonus, these logged hours are pulled into real-time team dashboards, so remote team managers can effortlessly keep an eye on overtime, capacity, activity and workloads for everyone, wherever they are.
Considerate communication lies at the heart of remote team visibility. It requires you to think beyond your immediate present to understand exactly how your work may impact other people in the coming weeks. As such, it’s important to consider who you need to coordinate with and regularly share your plans to ensure you’re still aligned.
For full team visibility, it’s a good idea for everyone to provide a brief post at the start of each week detailing what they worked on the previous week and what they’ll be working on in the forthcoming one. This communication should have a dedicated space; ideally on a centralized global channel like Basecamp, which will automatically update everyone with new posts. It ensures everyone knows where to look to check on the status of work.
Beyond this, you might also want to time block your weekly work on your public calendar. This serves a basic protective function – ensuring people don’t double book you – but it also helps colleagues and managers know what you’re working on. Team planning tools are a great for this, providing one clean space for synching colleague calendars and booking in time for thoughtful collaboration.
Sharing a high-level overview of your plans isn’t enough by itself… you need a way to map out any work that requires help from other colleagues in detail. Task managers are great for this – helping you keep a running to-do lists that stays accessible to everyone. Trello is one of the most popular options here, and its clean, colorful Kanban boards help everyone see which projects people are working on, as well as their current status.
No matter where you’re working from, tools like Trello allow you to create to-dos and checklists, organize projects, notify colleagues of any changes or updates, search past projects and tasks, and keep work discussion together in one ordered space. It acts as an asynchronous hub for project communication, which keeps work transparent by documenting all developments and actions.
Smart tools clearly have a lot to offer, but they shouldn’t be treated as a replacement for communication. As a remote worker, you are going to have to self-advocate a lot – regularly updating people on your progress, blockers, challenges, and achievements. You need to be able to ask for help when you need it, and also blow your own horn to bring attention to successes. It can feel a bit weird, but it’s essential to ensuring nothing gets lost or overlooked.
There are lots of small things you can do to build your digital presence and maintain strong working relationships, starting with having weekly team check-in meetings to summarize your progress. Programmers and designers can share short Loom demos or screenshots at the end of each week to briefly present their progress. Having a dedicated global. Slack channel is also a great way to keep company-wide communications transparent, and share weekly team wins with other departments.
As a company more widely, everyone should try to think as “asynchronously” as possible. This means making synchronous communication available for asynchronous consumption – like recording all video conference meetings so people can see what was discussed when it suits their schedule. It also means over-communicating – providing colleagues with as much context and detail in your messages so they can crack on, knowing exactly what is expected of them.