WFH? How to Stay on the Same Page as Your Boss

Author: Casey Gale       

working from home

To prevent themselves from feeling isolated, remote workers should seek feedback time with their bosses or colleagues, one expert says.

In late July, Google announced that it will continue to allow the majority of its approximately 200,000 employees to work remotely through at least July 2021 due to the COVID-19 crisis. While some have returned to the workplace, a Gallup poll released in late May revealed that seven in 10 employees still were working remotely at least part time, and half of those polled expressed an interest in continuing to work from home because they prefer it, regardless of the status of COVID-19.

The continuation of remote work — most likely beyond the timeline of what some were anticipating when the COVID-19 lockdowns first started, has required many to adapt their work habits, including how they communicate with their boss. In a recent episode of “The New Corner Office with Laura Vanderkam,” a podcast that focuses on thriving in the new world of work ushered in by COVID-19, host Vanderkam touched on the best way to ensure you’re on the same wavelength as your supervisor and colleagues: actively seek out feedback.

working from home

Laura Vanderkam

“People who seek out feedback tend to be more creative, and are seen as more effective by their peers, supervisors, and direct reports,” said Vanderkam, a speaker and author of time- management books, including What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast and 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think. “Remote workers, in particular, can become somewhat isolated and stuck in our own routines, and we generally talk less to others during the work day — so we get less casual feedback.”

Vanderkam noted that requesting a check-in meeting can feel awkward if a supervisor or employee isn’t accustomed to these types of discussions, but can be as simple as calling them to ask for a spare moment or requesting they remain on a video call after the main discussion is finished. Asking for this type of meeting once could spur similar feedback sessions in the future.

The key to getting instructive feedback, Vanderkam said, is to get specific. A simple “How am I doing?” isn’t enough, as employees who are struggling with performance issues should already know about this without requesting a meeting for feedback. Instead, she suggested asking questions like, “‘Our client seemed a little distracted on that last call. What do you think I could’ve done differently to keep him more engaged?’”

Vanderkam also recommends soliciting a lot of feedback to gain different perspectives from colleagues, supervisors, and direct reports. A standalone comment might not hold much importance, she said, but hearing the same feedback repeatedly is “probably worth investigating.”

Casey Gale is an associate editor at Convene.

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