You might be one of the many Americans who now know they like working from home. There are many advantages to working from home: going on walks, getting in shape, saving money from commuting, or syncing with a partner or family member. Sharon Koifman suggests that if you use the advice for employees in his guide, Surviving Remote Work  “you won’t just get comfortable with the new working arrangement. You’ll get your boss to start rethinking why he didn’t notice you for that promotion last year.” 

Getting and Keeping a Remote Job 

Let’s say you’ve been able to land a new remote job and there’s an onboarding phase – or there isn’t, and you know it’s best for everyone if you create one. Koifman suggests you ask lots of questions to get started: “Would you like me to prepare a daily task list each morning?” “Should I send you my completed tasks as the end of the day or week?” Find out what your manager values most and let it guide your choices. If you decide to ask about your boss’s thoughts on your ideas, be intuitive and recognize the difference between an enthusiastic ‘yes’ and a ‘whatever.’ 

To learn and join the company culture, find out the ways people connect and interact. Do they socialize in person? Join via tech or organize a virtual version. Make sure to become or stay socially connected when you work from home. The author says to prepare strategies like playing multiplayer online games and finding social meetups because you will probably feel lonely at some point. 

While mental health is a scary aspect of remote work, being able to be in control of your social experience will lead to a happier existence in the long run. In fact, based on MIT Sloan research, remote people are significantly happier. 

Show Off Your Unique Remote Working Strengths  

Koifman points out that you might be more comfortable or more experienced than your team or manager in an online work environment. Take advantage of this strength and show your boss how to use Zoom, Slack, or Trello. Share your own practices with new teammates. Go ahead and get used to “over-communication.” Balance that with not distracting as you write more concise communications and document progress in the tools provided.  

These alone can make you an instant hero because no one needs to ask you for what they need. 

Ultimately, show a willingness to accept feedback well, learn your company’s standards and meaning of accountability, and volunteer solutions for any failures. Koifman says, “find out what the most important values are. If they say accountability and an asshole-free environment, they’re inviting you to take more responsibility, and be willing to speak your mind openly and honestly,” all of which helps you excel at remote work.  

To Be Productive, You Have to Be Happy and Comfortable 

Koifman’s research and experience prove that to be more productive than the average office worker for a full day, you only need to create a three-hour uninterrupted chunk of work time in your home. Next, use the fourth hour to do lower-effort tasks – like anything you feel tempted to watch TV and do simultaneously.  

In one of the book’s best chapters, Koifman tells a story about accepting and overcoming the most common enemy of work happiness and comfort: procrastination. In the early phase of remote working, he played an online game all day instead of working on complex ideas for his business. He explains that under the pressure of information, our brains can quickly get overwhelmed. “Crazy, I know, but even the tiniest of tasks can eventually overwhelm your brain, prompting it to run away to somewhere less demanding.”  

He thoughtfully recommends tools he uses to manage information overload and eliminate procrastination:   

  • To-do list managers like NirvanaHQ  
  • RescueTime or SelfControl and other applications to keep you from visiting distracting websites for a certain amount of time (and that may have come pre-installed by your employer on the computer they provided). 

If you’re looking for remote work or making a pitch for continuing to work from home, Sharon Koifman’s guide gives you encouragement and practical advice for success. It’s also a quick and fun read! Next, read from the employer’s perspective in this companion blog. Order your copy of Surviving Remote Work on Amazon now.