Smashing business goals as a remote employee doesn’t have to be hard. In fact, it mostly requires you to be savvy with your online client communications.
We are seeing hundreds of thousands of our global users and millions of employees who are used to the structure and systems of an office environment needing to quickly learn how to be proficient at working from home — which is no small task.
It’s not only small companies scrambling to have their employees shift to working remotely: Amazon, Microsoft, Facebook, and Google have also asked workers to stay at home.
Most likely, your boss is well aware of the many difficulties that come with managing a remote workforce, as well as those faced by employees working from home.
Nonetheless, COVID-19 has probably forced their hand into allowing you to skip the commute and work remotely.
With COVID-19 spreading throughout the world, working from home increases social distance and gives you the best chance to avoid contracting the virus. Some local and state governments are urging all non-essential businesses (and employees) to stay home to slow the spread of the disease.
However, even before COVID-19, there were a plethora of reasons for wanting to work remotely.
The biggest reason most people want to work remotely is the opportunity for a better work-life balance. That starts with removing the commute to work; the average American spends 200 hours a year commuting — that’s nine days! Imagine having all that time back.
Additionally, you can save a lot of money by working remotely: you don’t have to pay for transportation to work and can lower expenses associated with eating lunch out.
Of course, in times when COVID-19 isn’t putting you on lockdown, working remotely means you can work from anywhere — opening up all kinds of possibilities! FlexJob’s 2018 survey found that 65% of respondents were more productive in a home office than at a traditional workplace.
Working remotely isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. There are some real pitfalls to consider.
One of the largest hurdles people face when they are new to working remotely is allowing for interruptions.
There is often some fluidity between work and the rest of your life when you are working from home. This can lead to every family member’s call, knock at the door, or bark from the dog dragging you away from your computer.
Though each distraction you face might only seem like a minute here and there, it takes about 23 minutes to refocus after each distraction. This means that unless you create a healthy, distraction-free workspace in your home, you are prone to lose hours a day to distractions.
Another issue that people don’t anticipate (though many are now facing in light of the current crisis) is the impact of not having regular in-person human interactions you have in an office space. If you find yourself struggling with loneliness, you can either schedule social breaks into your day (such as meeting people for lunch), or you can try working at a coworking space or coffee shop.
Obviously, with COVID-19 driving people to work from home at the moment, you should avoid leaving the house for social reasons. However, if you successfully convince your boss that you’re more productive remotely, despite the difficult circumstances, then co-working spaces or coffee shops could be good outlets to help with loneliness in the future.
The other primary difficulty of working remotely is ensuring that your team (and your boss) are aware of the work you’re accomplishing. This can be especially difficult in sales when your success rate ebbs and flows with market conditions and other factors outside of your control.
When it comes down to showing your boss that you are the type of person who not only succeeds but excels in a remote-working environment, it all comes down to two things: communication and demonstrating productivity.
There is no better way to have remote work privileges taken away than going MIA without explanation. While the current state of affairs makes remote work essential — you should be thinking to the future if you like the arrangement and want it to continue on indefinitely.
Remote work often gives you a lot more flexibility when it comes to your schedule. However, your boss still needs to know when they can count on you to reply to urgent emails, answer phone calls, and respond to client needs.
By clearly communicating your availability on any given day, you allow your boss and the rest of your team to work together to ensure no deals slip through the cracks.
Your boss needs to know when they can count on you to get back to them when they have questions. One of the best ways to do this is to create (and share) a schedule for your remote work hours.
This schedule should include times that you will be available ASAP (being super responsive to their needs), as well as times you’re available for remote meetings and calls.
Don’t forget to block off chunks of time for deep work and getting in touch with prospects. These are times you will be working but won’t be responding to messages, in order to stay focused on the task at hand.
By using Cirrus Insight’s Calendar Sync — which automatically syncs Salesforce with your Outlook, mobile, and Gmail calendar — you can ensure your boss is always kept in the loop about your schedule.
This productivity tool ensures that all calendars are matching and updated every hour. Furthermore, any meetings or events associated with a specific lead or contact will be synced to their account in Salesforce.
One thing to keep in mind as you rapidly adjust to communicating with your team and boss remotely is that you can’t over-communicate — at least not when you’re working from home. There is more room for misunderstandings and confusion when you are working remotely if you don’t make an effort to communicate what you’re working on.
So, err on the side of sharing too much. Doing so will not only lead to fewer misunderstandings but will also result in better teamwork and stronger bonds of trust.
Though it might go without saying, it’s worth mentioning that you should be completely honest with your management team when working remotely. Trust between you and your boss is vital.
When you are working from home, there are fewer chances to have in-person interactions that are filled with nonverbal cues that help build trust. This means that what you say takes on even more importance.
Failing to communicate issues or telling “white lies” about why things are behind can undermine that trust and erode the necessary foundation for working remotely.
Lastly, don’t hesitate to pick up the phone and call your boss (assuming that’s part of your communication plan) to quickly resolve an urgent issue. Emails create important paper trails and allow for better tracking of your work but sometimes a quick phone call can get the job done.
Unlike working in an office, the hours you work remotely aren’t what really counts — it’s the work being done.
If your boss is new to running a remote team, it’s absolutely vital to log all of your activities in your CRM. This lets your boss see that you're staying on top of your duties, not just sitting around at home watching Netflix.
In addition to shoring up any concerns management might have of you goofing off, logging your sales activity also gives them a clear picture of what’s getting done and where certain clients are at in the sales funnel.
The good news? You don’t have to log all of this information manually.
Cirrus Insight's Salesforce integration allows you to document phone calls with prospects and attach notes directly from your email account. It also automatically logs your email activity and other related actions (leads, contacts, opportunities, and cases) directly into your CRM.
As a remote worker, you need the right tools not only to improve your productivity but to track it so you can show your boss what you’re accomplishing in a remote work situation.
And, let’s be honest, not every call or email leads to a sale at that moment. It can often take weeks and months of nurturing a lead to convert them.
Of course, not securing the sale immediately doesn’t mean you’re not working. You just have to make sure management can see all the effort you’re putting in.
At the end of the day, the key to successfully working remotely is working smarter — not longer.
When working from home, there is a temptation to always be on-duty — especially if you recognize your importance to an organization. However, in the long-term, failing to establish a healthy work-life balance can be detrimental to your productivity and life.
The first step to protecting your work-life balance is shielding your private time. The reason you have a synced calendar is so you can establish times that you are working and times that you are not. If you are not scheduled to be working — don’t work.
Of course, emergencies can come up that require your immediate attention. However, unless your boss is reaching out to you on a communication channel designated for emergencies, don’t worry about it.
That means stop checking your work emails during dinner or your kid’s soccer game. Be present in your life.
It’s all about setting and keeping work-life boundaries. If emails have to be sent at a certain time, you can leverage tools like Flight Plans or Gmail’s Send Later feature to get them delivered while you’re focused on your personal life.
A morning and evening routine can also go a long way toward preventing you from burning out while working from home.
Your morning routine can include breakfast, showering, dressing in your normal work clothes, a workout — anything that helps your mind and body shift from bed to work. Think of it as a healthy replacement for your morning commute.
Your evening routine is just as important as your morning one as it will help you wrap up work for the day instead of letting it drag into the evening and deep into the night.
When work continues to interrupt your personal time in the evening, you are neither being productive at getting sales taken care of nor being present in your life — it’s the worst of both worlds.
“It's definitely important to have a hard stop. There is always work to be done and you'll have to accept that it's not possible to finish all of it,” Zapier Community Manager Esse Parker says. “If you try, you will burnout. I've done that to myself in a previous job and it's not fun and you grow easily exhausted”.
However, moving to a remote sales team can be daunting for supervisors and subordinates.
By being incredibly responsive and hitting productivity goals, you can prove to your boss how (when you have the right tools) you crush the sales game when working remotely.
Start your free 14-day trial of Cirrus Insight’s suite of powerful tools for remote sales teams today!