In the last twenty years, the idea of “going to work” has changed dramatically. There was a time when working at a company meant that every employee worked in one particular shared location for a set number of hours per day. You worked in close physical proximity with your boss, for better or for worse. Today, thanks to technology, we can work more flexibility – be it from home, or in offices spread across the country. While this can be great in many ways, it can also prove challenging to work with a boss who lives hundreds of miles away from where you work.
At GuideStar, I regularly work with staff members across three offices in two time zones. My direct supervisor works from California, and with the bizarre weather on the east coast this year, I find myself working from home often. While I’ve learned a lot about effective collaboration from working closely with my fellow employees, I’ve learned even more by working with remotely with my supervisor.
Here are some tips on working effectively with a supervisor who is far away:
1. Agree on set hours to collaborate…
I work on the East Coast while my supervisor works on the West Coast, so we have a three hour time difference. Through trial and error, we’ve generally determined that we can work together most effectively between noon and 4 p.m. East Coast time. We try to schedule meetings or long working sessions during that time whenever possible.
2. … But be flexible
Sometimes “set hours” just don’t work out. Working remotely requires a bit of flexibility on both of your parts. My supervisor sometimes takes early meetings (7 a.m. her time) to accommodate 11 a.m. meetings on the East Coast. Once every few weeks, I stay at work a few hours late to take part in late-afternoon meetings on the West Coast. Fortunately, these meetings are not regular occurrences, but having a little flexibility goes a long way.
3. Use “off hours” productively
Uninterrupted, solidary time is just as important as collaborative time. It’s a great time to dig into heavy research or writing. Use large blocks of time to complete more challenging tasks to use all your time the most effectively.
4. Invest time and effort in collaborative technologies
Did you know how to share screens on Microsoft Lync? Or host a Google Hangout? Spend a little time and effort looking into the various technology platforms available. Once you decide which one to use, spend some time digging into them. It might be frustrating to get your video conferencing to work, but once it does, it will be a lot easier to hold conversations remotely. Investing time and energy into the tools that you can greatly increase your productivity.
Anisha Singh is a business analyst at GuideStar. She splits her time between the Strategy Team,
Finance Team, and Office of the President/CEO. Anisha is a graduate from Johns Hopkins University, where she majored in International Studies and Economics. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, finding the best restaurants in DC, and annoying her brother with her philanthropy chatter. You can reach Anisha at firstname.lastname@example.org.